If you dream of starting a career in medicine, you’re setting yourself up for a rewarding life of service. Medicine is one of those areas that always needs more good people. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to find employment, and you’ll be able to make a direct, powerful impact on countless lives.

You want to make sure that you set the conditions for success early, though. The medical industry is fast-paced, high-stress, and requires total focus. You can’t afford to be distracted by worries outside of the exam room, and if you have these five essentials, your career will be much easier.

1.   A High-Quality Education

Before you can become a doctor, nurse, or caregiver, you need training. The quality of the training you receive will shape your performance for the rest of your career, so it has to be good. Not only that but getting a medical degree is expensive, no matter where you go. You want your education to be worth the investment.

 When you’re selecting which medical school to attend, the Association of American Medical Colleges recommends you focus on the following points:

  • The admission requirements
  • The type of medicine you want to practice
  • The cost
  • Average class size
  • Your preferred learning style

2.   An Efficient System of Organization

Life as a medical professional is hectic. Ask anyone who’s done a stint in an ER and you’ll get an idea of just how quickly you can become overwhelmed. As your caseload and responsibilities increase, you’ll need an effective system to organize your workload so that you can manage it easily. To develop a great system, focus on these key factors:

A Central Location for Important Information

Keep all of your important information in one place. Whether that’s your notebook, your cell phone, or your computer doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a single place where your important notes are stored. This will save you time and help keep you from misplacing important information

Prioritization

As your list of things to do grows, you’ll have to decide what to address first. Prioritize your tasks so that they don’t become overwhelming, and address the most important things at the top of your to-do list.

A System of Deadlines

If you take as much time as you like to complete tasks, you’ll never get anything done, and your workload will become unmanageable. Always set a time standard with your tasks, and abide by your deadlines. If you need more time, return to your list and either set new deadlines for your other tasks or return to your current one later.

3.   Protection From Harm

Medical professionals are people too. That means they get stressed, they get sick, and they get hurt. In particular, surgeons have to be very careful with their bodies. Their work is so delicate that even the slightest twitch can lead to irreparable harm for a patient. Any injury to a surgeon’s hands, eyes, or brain can signal the end of a career.

Think About Your Own Health Too

As you continue throughout your career, you need to follow the same advice you give your patients: take care of yourself. Maintain a healthy diet, get at least three days of exercise a week, and always be cautious. Your risks are even greater than most people’s because you’ll be working in an environment filled with diseases. Taking care of your body will give you a healthier immune system and help prevent illnesses.

Protect Your Future

Additionally, take steps to ensure that you’ll be able to support yourself if anything ever does happen. The best treatment is prevention, but you can’t account for everything. Have protections in place so that if you ever do become injured or disabled, you’ll still be able to support yourself and your family. It may be depressing to think about not being able to do your job anymore but it’s something you have to prepare for.

4.   A Willingness to Learn

There’s nothing more dangerous than a doctor or nurse who thinks they know everything. A whitepaper by BMC Medical cited that in nearly two-thirds of all cases of misdiagnoses, overconfidence was the cause. If you ever get to a point where you think you’re never wrong, hang up your white coat, turn in your stethoscope, and go home.

As you progress in your career, always look for new opportunities to learn. Medical professionals have to get so many continuing education credits each year to keep there license anyway, so enjoy the opportunities you have to expand your knowledge.

5.   The Determination to Keep Going

So let me tell you something that’s going to happen to you, numerous times, once you start practicing medicine – you will want to quit. I don’t blame you a bit. The long hours, the extreme stress, and the overwhelming sadness that comes from not saving a patient will start to wear down on everyone.

If you’re someone who is easily discouraged, then I promise you, healthcare is not for you. We’ve talked about just how much goes into establishing a career, and how much more it takes to keep it going. As you progress, you’re going to have moments where you question your decision to join the profession. In those moments, remember all the things you’ve sacrificed so far, all the hard work you’ve given, and most importantly, all of the people you’ve helped.

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