A healthy career

I want to work in the health industry but my future is a blur. 

That’s just how it should be, says our elder. Keep an open mind and you will find your path.


Dear EWC

Hi, I am a high school student and my future is a blur. I honestly do not know what career is right for me. All I do know is that I want a career in the health industry. In the past, I’ve wanted to become a GP or surgeon. But after doing some research, I’ve come to find out that you need a super high OP/ATAR for that. I don’t really think I’ll be able to get that high of an ATAR. Plus, becoming those professions takes quite a long time of studying/medical school. I’ve also considered becoming a nurse, but I must say I’m not the best at communicating, which is an important skill one must have to deal with patients. And now, I don’t really know what I want to do anymore. Here are a few things about me. 

– My favorite subject in school is Math and Science (especially Biology) but not Physics. 

– I enjoy helping people. 

– I’m not so good at communicating (especially when explaining things). 

– I want to make a change in the world 

My possible subject selections for grades 11 and 12 are: English General, Math Method, Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, Health. 

Please ask me anything you would like to know. Thank you.


Cairnie replies

What a generous heart you have to be pursuing a pathway in school to prepare yourself to help people. Thank goodness for people like you!

I say this without irony – I am almost happy to hear that your future is a blur. You are in high school. There are many careers that you don’t yet know about, and by keeping your options open you may be more ready to see other opportunities. There are many careers that help people, and many ways to help people outside of a specific career.

For example, there are several jobs in nursing that do not require patient contact. Nursing is a terrific field, one that will always be needed. At the same time, communication is a skill that you can learn. You will take courses in nursing that will help you talk with patients, sometimes even a script with questions to ask and information forms to fill out. The more practice you have at that, the better at communicating you become. So please don’t eliminate nursing as an option for you at this point. You can learn to communicate well.

There are other health professions that require less communication, too, such as phlebotomy (drawing blood), working in the lab, working in the pharmacy, becoming a hospital dietitian, a health administrator, etc, etc. And there are many health professions that occur outside a hospital setting, such as health educator, physical therapist, epidemiologist, environmental health specialist, health officer, quality control specialist, health policy analyst, etc. So know that there are many options in the health field.

I write this to reveal a much wider world of career options (and these are only in health, there are many professions that help people outside the health field). Talk to the career counselor in your school and explore some of these options. Do an internet search for health care jobs, public health careers, etc and see what you learn. Go to job listings for these fields and read the job description to see what skills and education these employers are looking for. Consider going to your local university and seeing their course descriptions, job posting board, etc to learn more about different options.

You can also look at the professional association websites in your area and country for health – public health association, nursing association, etc.

Yet, the most important advice I can give you is not to decide at this point. Go to university, consider a liberal arts education while you are thinking about a career. Take courses in subjects that you know nothing about. Maybe you want to be a journalist, an environmental scientist, an art teacher, a zoologist, or other careers you don’t know about at this point that will also make an important difference in the world. 

I love your goal of wanting to make a change in the world. Yes! Follow your heart, keep your mind open, keep reading, talking with people, and seeing what the options are. You have time to start narrowing your choices as you advance academically.

And nursing is a wonderful profession if that’s what you decide to do. So have confidence in yourself, know that you have time to strengthen your skills and learn new things. And keep two other things in mind: your first job is not going to be your last job (people often change jobs and even professions), and that you can change the world with your avocation (hobbies, volunteer work, community service, etc) as well as with your paid profession. 

People change the world in all sorts of ways: adopting a child, creating a community garden, helping animals, engaging with senior citizens, etc, etc, etc. You will find your way to make the world a better place. I just know it.

Rather than think about your future as a blur, think about it as an evolving piece of artwork. As you live your life, it will emerge and change as you do. How exciting is that! Your pathway will be curvy, and sometimes you won’t be able to see around the corner, but know that as long as you are moving forward, you will get where you need to when you need to. Trust yourself. Surround yourself with people who love you and who make you happy. 

I see a wonderful life in your future. That’s the future I see for you.

Article #: 440847

Category: Career

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