Finding a Medical Field Job
If you're interested in a medical field career, you have plenty of jobs from which to choose and not all of them require years in school. You don't have to limit your choices to doctor or nurse or doctor's office or hospital. Myriad job opportunities exist at all levels of health care, and with the way things change so quickly in medical field careers, it appears medical jobs will always be in high demand. Jobs within the medical field range from medical secretary to physician and medical researcher, both of which require a medical degree. Before deciding what you want to do in medicine, you need to map out your long-term goals.
A résumé is often the first contact one has with a prospective employer, so it's best to put one's best foot forward. Spending time crafting a solid professional résumé is time well spent. Books are written about how to construct a proper résumé, and there are plenty of Web sites dedicated to the topic that can help someone prepare their résumé, or curriculum vita. Many of them have several résumé examples to use as a guide. This is a brief overview of how to get ready to get your biographical information out into the world.
At the top of your résumé, the very first bit of information an employer should see is your name, address, and contact information. This info should be centered, with your name in bold type, at the top of the page. The next section the reader should see is your career objective. This is a statement asserting what you want to do with your medical career, i.e. labor and delivery nurse with fifteen years experience looking to enhance managerial skills.
A summary of qualifications should be listed next. This allows a prospective employer to see a list of positive attributes right away. It will be one of the first things to make an impression on anyone doing the hiring for an organization. Certifications and computer proficiencies would fall into this category. Follow with a section highlighting your professional accomplishments where you should describe any achievements you've attained as a student or during your professional career.
Founding a student nurse's association at your school, improving patient history forms on your medical unit, etc., could be listed as professional accomplishments. Emphasize your work experience after your accomplishments. List your most recent workplace first and go back from there. Keep work experiences to within the past twenty years. List any supplemental experiences next. These might include any volunteer activities in which you engage and if you coordinated any efforts in the community or former workplace, for example "volunteer coordinator." Finally, note your education listing your highest degree attained first. Try to keep all of this pertinent information on one page and definitely fewer than two pages. Employers welcome having fewer papers to deal with and appreciate people who can provide information succinctly; doing so illustrates your ability to get your point across quickly and professionally.
Once your medical career résumé has been accepted and you've been invited in for an interview, you need to start practicing for that all-important meeting. As with researching the best résumé template and sending out a polished résumé, so must you prepare for the job interview. You put your best foot forward with a great résumé; you need to follow it up by dressing and showing your most professional self during the interview.
Before you do anything else, research the hospital or medical company with whom you will interview. Go armed with questions for the interviewer (you're interviewing them as much as they will interview you) and be ready to share informative tidbits you've discovered about their organization. Proving you've researched their corporation shows committed interest - that you've invested time looking into how they run their business. Be sure to know important names in the organization - the CEO of a hospital, for example, or founding partners of a medical group.
Dress appropriately. For both men and women it's best to wear a suit when interviewing for a position in the medical field. If you don't have a suit or cannot afford one, be sure to wear a clean, pressed shirt and nice pants or slacks. Make sure your hair is neat and clean, that your hands and nails are clean and trimmed, and that your breath is fresh. Shake hands firmly with the interviewer and make eye contact throughout the meeting. Averting someone's gaze makes a poor impression. If you can't look the interviewer in the eye and make them feel comfortable in your presence, how will you come across to patients? This is definitely something to which an interviewer in a medical facility will pay close attention. They want to hire medical personnel who can communicate well with patients.
Be prepared to answer some "typical" interview questions - like where you see yourself in the future, your opinion about the current state of health care or any local or state legislation pertinent to your area of expertise, your strengths and weaknesses - because although cliché, interviewers like to test their potential employees by putting them on the spot with these types of questions to see how they handle themselves.
It's a good idea not to broach the subject of salary in a first interview. Organizations often inquire about salary expectation on application forms; if you find this to be the case, good advice is to answer "negotiable" if prompted. Many corporations - medical and otherwise - leave salary discussions to those in human resources, thus taking the burden of money matters off the interviewer. This allows the focus of conversation to remain on job-related topics. If the hospital or practice decides to hire you, salary discussions will ensue at that point.
The Encarta World English Dictionary (2009) defines intern as "a doctor who has recently graduated from medical school and is receiving practical, supervised training in a hospital, and an assistant or trainee working to gain practical experience in an occupation." Both of these definitions apply to those working in a medical field career. Of course, the first meaning describes all doctors, as all physicians are typically referred to as "interns" during their first year of practice. Different conditions apply to medical (MD) interns versus osteopathic (DO) interns. They each take different exams prior to starting their internships and must meet slightly different standards as interns. Both types spend the majority of their lives in the hospital that first year out of medical school taking calls and receiving valuable on-the-job training. Medical interns work in hospitals affiliated with a medical school and serve out the remainder of their residencies in the same facility. The second definition can apply to anyone else in medicine who trains for a future position in health care. The best place to start looking for internship opportunities is with the organization for which you hope to work. Many health care associations post internship jobs on their Web sites. Internships benefit the employers as much as they help interns themselves because interns, while paid as employees, are a cost-effective alternative to having a staff of full-salaried employees. Interns are often paid on a lower scale than regular full-time employees and usually don't receive benefits. Those interested in serving a medical internship should check with local health care facilities for opportunities, but for those willing and able to travel or train in other areas of the country or abroad, check out international health care organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the American Public Health Association (APHA). Each of these organizations has different requirements for entry into their internship programs, so check their Web sites for instructions before applying. Some of these internships are paid, some are not. Some want candidates to be enrolled in a graduate degree program before they will allow you to intern. The World Health Organization states they require their interns to "be enrolled in a degree program in a graduate school and must possess a first degree in a public health, medical or social field related to the technical work of WHO" (2009). The American Public Health Association offers unpaid internships for anyone working toward a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in areas such as communications and the nation's health, e-marketing, government relations, and public health policy. Internships are a great way to obtain practical real-world experience, and employers look favorably upon them when reviewing résumés.
Having a list of professional references speaks to your character and worth as an employee. References can speak to your qualities and capabilities in a medical career. As you work your way through college or medical school, it's a good idea to develop strong bonds with professors who can act as references when it comes time to find a job. Do the same with employers. Previous employers make wonderful references, as they are able to speak directly to your work ethic. Professional colleagues can provide the same information for those considering you for employment in their organization.
There are several rules of thumb to which one should adhere when addressing the issue of references. First, speak with those you intend to use as references before actually putting them down as references. These people need to be notified of your intent to use them as references before they receive a phone call from your prospective employer. They should have their statements formulated prior to speaking with anyone on your behalf. They also need to consent to be used as a reference. Secondly, do not list your references on your résumé. It's no longer acceptable to state "references available upon request" because this is assumed. Sometimes people include a "references page" with curriculum vitae. This page lists all references' names with job titles and contact information. It's a good idea to keep several letters of reference on hand. If you've had a positive experience working for or with someone you know will be difficult to reach in the future, ask that person for a letter of reference and offer it when prompted at a later date.
Discuss with your reference what you would like him or her to highlight about you when he or she speaks with your potential employer. Remind him or her of any special accomplishments or how you improved how work was accomplished at a former job. If there is any issue or point you would like this person to avoid, make sure you bring it to his or her attention during this conversation. Remember to thank this person for speaking on your behalf and follow up with a handwritten thank-you note for agreeing to be one of your references. Many references want to know how things worked out for you, if you were offered the job, etc. It's nice to keep your references informed of how their personal testimonial benefited you. A thoughtful gesture would be an offer to return the favor, should it be appropriate. You can offer to be a reference for a colleague, but not a former professor, for example. References can make or break your chances at securing the job you want in the medical field; make sure you contact those who can best attest to your attributes as a medical professional.
Last Updated: 03/14/2013