4 Things to Consider Before Taking a Job in Health Care

A physician's view of the medical profession

Portrait of confident doctor holding medical record in hospital corridor
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By Dr. Gregory Wayne Nabers

Due to advances in technology or a decline in demand, some jobs are destined to become obsolete. The medical profession, however, shows no signs of losing steam; health care is on track to create an estimated 5.6 million new jobs by 2020. As long as people get sick, injured and become older, there will be a demand for nurses and physicians to take care of them.

As a member of the medical industry, this places you in high demand. You may need some help deciding which job to take instead of deciding how to get a job, which is a good problem to have. Before you commit to any job opportunity, consider these four factors.

1. Will the position help pay off your loans?

Before you became a physician, you had to foot a hefty bill for medical school. The median education debt for 2012 med school graduates was $170,000 before interest, and doctors and students have a combined burden of $730 billion in outstanding student loan debt, according to FinAid.org. You'll need a job that will help repay this debt.

Some positions in the medical field come with lofty paychecks, but others specifically help you repay what you owe in loans. For example, the Army Reserve Medical Corps actually repays up to $250,000 in student loans. Any pay is good when you're repaying loans, but knowing that you're receiving help can be comforting when you're deep in debt.

2. Are there leadership opportunities available?

Don't take a job where you're destined to become lost in the shuffle of other employees, processes and everyday work life. A fulfilling position will allow and encourage you to move up in the ranks and take on new roles and responsibilities.

Assess the people you would work with. Are your superiors encouraging, and do they value training at work? Opportunities to train and lead others are vital to your career success. The ability to advance and grow in your field in general is something you should confirm before taking a job.

If you're beginning hospital residency, your advisers and doctors should tell you how many resident physicians end up staying at the location after finishing their residency. They might be able to tell you how often residents advance at that specific location and for which positions. This makes it easier for you to decide if there is room to grow after your residency is done.

3. Can you focus on your patients?

This is a growing issue in the medical field. Physicians are spending more time dealing with paperwork, government regulations and insurance necessities instead of focusing directly on the patient. When red tape consumes physicians' time and attention, the quality of patient care decreases and makes your job less enjoyable.

Before committing to a position, ask about how the hospital, family practice or other facility deals with government regulation and insurance processes. How much time do physicians typically spend with each patient one-on-one? If a facility is known for poor patient care and interaction, then you don't want to offer your services there.

4. Do you have access to new technology?

Just as it is important to advance in your position and cultivate your leadership skills, it is also important to have access to new equipment, knowledge and medical technology at your job. Without access to the latest technology and treatment techniques, you can fall behind in your field, which makes you a less valuable asset to any facility.

If your facility's equipment, tools and techniques are outdated, consider that a red flag that it may be time to leave -- or look for a job elsewhere. Don't work somewhere that doesn't make advanced patient care a top priority.

How I decided

When it was time for me to choose a position in the medical field, I found aspects that were most important to me offered in the Army Reserve Medical Corps. ARMC offers assistance paying off my school loans, an opportunity to advance in rank throughout my career, direct contact with the patients I serve in many parts of the world and access to cutting-edge medical technology and treatment techniques.

Talented, hardworking individuals are always in high demand in the field of medicine. You have choices, so consider what is most important to you in a medical position. Work where you will be happy, successful, and most of all, work where you can make a difference.

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Gregory Wayne Nabers, M.D. is a resident physician at Louisiana State University Health Science Center – Shreveport. He is a member of the Army Reserve Medical Corps, where he has enjoyed gaining unique experience and utilizing advanced technology to advance his career.

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