I know that most teenagers change what they wanna be hundred of times but I’ve really taken a liking to the medical field. I love watching tv shows such as untold stories of the ER. But when my Gma went into the hospital and had to have some things done I’d seen in the shows, I started second guessing myself on whether I want to go into the medical field. Is it just because it was family or is this a sign that I don’t have what it takes to go into medicine in real life? Thanks for the advice!
-Future Medical Guy?
Dear Future Medical Guy?,
Thanks for asking for my input. I think it is too soon to tell. It’s hard to watch a loved one go through any type of medical procedure, so I wouldn’t walk away from the entire medical field just yet. If you could get some job shadowing experience observing a medical professional at work, that could give you a better idea about what you’re specifically interested in and what you can/can’t handle. There are many different types of careers within medicine and many of them don’t involve blood and guts. Some examples are: ultrasound, X-ray, pharmacy and lab technicians, medical administrators, and physical therapy assistants. There are also people who work in a medical setting (such as a clinic) doing dental, psychology, and social work.
If you have a family member or family friend who is a medical professional, or a family doctor that you like, call or email that person and ask if he/she would be willing and able to let you shadow him/her on a set day and time. You could even set up a schedule that runs for a few weeks, if possible. (If you’re on summer break right now, this could be the perfect time.) If you don’t know anyone well who works in the medical field, ask your parents, teachers, or coaches if they know of someone. You can even call local clinics and hospitals to see if they have a job shadowing program or if someone who works there would be interested and able to let a student come observe him/her even for a few hours on an arranged day and time.
What to know about job shadowing:
- Even if this person can only pencil you in for a few hours one day, be sure to thank him/her when you’re there and send a thank you card after the observation.
- Arrive early to discuss ground rules about confidentiality and where to sit or stand so that you aren’t in the way.
- You want to show this medical professional that you can act professionally and are sincerely interested, so come prepared in appropriate clothing and shoes.
- Bring a pencil and a sturdy pad of paper to take observation notes. Unlike working as an intern or as an employee, job shadowing is all about observing vs. gaining hands-on work experience. So the more notes you take, the more you’ll soak up and remember procedures performed, what the workplace environment is like, his/her range of duties and responsibilities, how time and workload is managed, challenges faced, personality traits that help in this work environment, training and degrees required to obtain that position, and questions to save when it’s convenient for him/her to answer)
The more experience you get around medical professionals, the more you’ll be able to see if this could be a good fit for you or not. You may discover that the realistic side of that particular job vs. the glamorized version of it on TV is or isn’t for you. Either way, it’s a great way to really learn more about specific jobs in the medical field.
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