Ask the Experts

Helping Through Healthcare

My father was a doctor, and growing up he told me two things: first, that I should choose a career that helps people; and second, that I should not be a doctor, because his hours were terrible.

And they really were terrible–he was on call for the emergency room a lot when I was growing up, and I didn’t get to see him as much as I would have liked. So I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a doctor like him, but I do want to help people, and I am drawn to healthcare. What can the experts tell me about careers in healthcare that can help me make an impact like doctors can–without having to work their hours?

There are plenty of ways to help people, and just as many ways to turn a calling into a career. If you feel strongly about helping others heal and stay healthy through your work, you should have no trouble finding a job that fits the bill–even if you may have some trouble, as you point out, finding one that fits your schedule!

Doctors are, of course, one example–and you’re correct to note that their hours can be rough: only 50 percent of doctors report working less than 60 hours per week, and most of those work for more than 40. No wonder, then, that 65 percent of physicians say they are overworked! With that said, though, doctors don’t all work the same hours. Time commitments and call schedules can vary widely between specialties and employers. An emergency room surgeon will, of course, be on call a lot–a pediatrician, not so much.

The same is true of nurses, who can work in environments as different as trauma centers and physical therapy offices. A nurse with a RN (registered nurse) degree will get different opportunities than ones with a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) degree, and those choices aren’t mutually exclusive; some nurses choose to go to a RN to BSN program later in their careers. Some even choose to go to medical school and jump from nursing to a career as a doctor.

Doctors and nurses are on the front lines of care, but they’re not the only people working to make others healthy. Hospitals need administrative staff, too, of course, as do all medical offices. Pharmacists are essential to our healthcare system, too, as are the individuals who develop, test, and eventually market the medications that doctors prescribe.

And it’s not just medicines; doctors and patients need to be able to rely on medical devices, from things as simple as crutches to things as complicated as pacemakers. Getting complex medical devices ready for market is no easy task, say the medical device consultants at Global Regulatory Partners. Experts need to craft safe and effective devices that pass regulatory muster and deliver on their promises.

In short, the healthcare industry is an industry like any other, featuring not only doctors but also businessmen and women, researchers, marketers, and all the other employees big companies need to do what they do–even (and perhaps especially) if what they do is save lives!

“Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head: (not, how can I always do thing right thing for myself, but) how I can I provide for this right thing to be always done?” — Florence Nightingale

John Regan is a former Director of Sales for equity research.