Narrowing Down the Choices
Once you have made your lists of attributes and considered all of your possible skills and talents as well as your personal preferences, you will need to begin to research the various health care careers and compare the requirements and expectations with your lists. You may want to make new lists of side-by-side comparisons of the requirements and attributes of the profession in one column and your personal characteristics and attributes in another column. You might even find that you have more in common with a career than you thought, or that you have nothing in common with one you have long considered to be your primary choice.
Once you have narrowed down some of your choices, you need to begin to investigate the profession further. Here are a few suggestions:
Find opportunities to observe these professionals at work. Contact a facility where these professionals work, and inquire about a tour of the facility and the possibility of shadowing the professional for a day. Make an appointment and call to confirm. Be on time.
Contact the professional organization and request information about the profession. Ask if they offer any mentoring programs or shadowing opportunities for potential students.
A number of health sciences camps are becoming popular all over the country. They are offered primarily by colleges, universities, and professional organizations to provide high school students with a week-long, in-depth view of the profession. (See Appendix A, search the Internet for “health sciences camps,” or search by vocation such as “nursing camps.”) The camps offer experiences such as shadowing opportunities, CPR certification, and peanut-gallery views of such sites as the ER and of diagnostic and treatment procedures, such as CAT scans and hyperbaric chambers.
Be sure to research the prospective job opportunities in your area. You can do this through classified ads in your local paper. You can also search the Internet at sites such as Monster.com, CareerBuilders.com, HealthcareJobs.org, or Medzilla.com.
Many health care education programs limit the number of spaces available for students. This is due in large part to the shortage of qualified teachers in the particular area, and may also be due to the shortage of available facilities willing to allow for clinical rotations. Therefore, it is essential that students entering the programs have an understanding of what they're getting into so that they have a better chance of graduating from the program as well as entering the profession.