On normal occasions, the staff who work within the healthcare industry are in a unique position to witness first-hand the stresses that often come with the job. With circumstances that occurred due to the pandemic, healthcare staff experienced packed out hospitals, extra-long shifts, minimal staff, and the drive to get as many people vaccinated as possible. It is understandable that you might now be feeling exhausted and disinterested in your career, looking forward only to getting the next shift over. If this is the case for you, read on for a guide to refreshing and reinvigorating your career in healthcare so that you look forward to going to work again.
Return to school
If your current role is in general healthcare – for instance, as a registered nurse – you might wish to specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as family nursing or pediatric care. However, in order to do so, you will usually be required to take a master’s degree in your chosen specialization in order to gain the relevant skills and knowledge and clinical experience. However, how can you fit an intense university master’s degree around a full-time job? Many colleges are now recognizing the importance of study flexibility in their programs and have responded by creating online nurse practitioner programs that provide the same high level of teaching while removing the need to stick to a rigid timetable of weekly campus classes. This way, you can pursue your master’s degree while also gaining valuable clinical experience in your full-time healthcare role and also fulfilling other family and life commitments.
Transfer to another facility
If you are happy with the daily tasks and responsibilities of your current role but nevertheless feel less than thrilled to come into work each day, it might be a sign that it is the facility, rather than the work, that should be changed. Clashes of personality with colleagues, workplace politics, or simply becoming bored with your surroundings might all be signs that it is time to move on to another facility. Make sure that your resume and covering letter is updated to show off your skills and qualities to recruiters, then regularly check job postings and apply to as many as possible. Alternatively, you could make an appointment with your manager or HR department to discuss where else in the facility you could move to; this is a particularly beneficial option if you are keen to gain experience in a particular area of healthcare.
Consider non-traditional settings
Traditional healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, provide healthcare professionals with a large proportion of job opportunities. However, people can experience medical emergencies in any setting, and, as such, there are healthcare career opportunities that can be found in non-traditional settings. For example, if you are a keen traveler, you could consider working onboard a cruise ship as a nurse or physician. This role will see you dealing with common travel ailments, like sunstroke and food poisoning, as well as more serious medical emergencies that can befall a person at any time, like heart attacks. Or, you could enroll in the army and become a military nurse in order to provide servicemen and women with the vital medical assistance they need during times of combat and on tours of duty. Though healthcare job openings in non-traditional settings might not be as frequent as in hospital facilities, with perseverance and experience, they can provide a fulfilling and exciting career path.
Pay attention to your own mental and physical health
As a healthcare professional, you dedicate your life to ensuring that clients can enjoy the best possible health – but what about your own health? Shift work and long hours can result in poor eating habits and sleep deprivation, which can, in turn, have a detrimental effect on your physical health. Furthermore, you are likely to be involved in life and death situations and witness people at their most emotional and vulnerable, which can take a toll on your mental health if not dealt with effectively. Make an effort to pre-prepare healthy meals in bulk so that you do not rely on grazing on unhealthy snacks, and ensure that you are getting enough sleep. Regular exercise is beneficial for both your mental and physical health. To go one step further in looking after your mental health as a healthcare professional, you could consider speaking to someone to help you process particularly traumatic situations and build coping strategies for dealing with stress on the ward.
Reduce your hours
Reducing your hours is a good option if you are not in a financial position to take full retirement but would still like more downtime to spend with friends and family and participating in fun hobbies. There are, however, some considerations to keep in mind if you are serious about reducing your hours. Firstly – and perhaps most importantly – reduced hours mean a reduced pay packet, so make sure that you are in a financial position to live comfortably on a lower income. Furthermore, some organizations may be more amenable to altering working hours than others, so book a meeting with your HR department to find out whether or not this is possible. If not, you might consider a job move to a part-time position at another facility.
Switch to a non-clinical position
If your entire career thus far has been spent working in a clinical setting, such as caring for patients on a ward or providing essential home healthcare, you will no doubt have built up a vast bank of experience and knowledge of service users’ wants and needs. As such, you could consider switching to a non-clinical role within healthcare to harness your experience with the aim of implementing policy changes to improve the level of care that patients are receiving. While such roles will take you away from the hands-on process of caring for patients, you will be in a position to make real policy changes.
If you are looking to fall back in love with your healthcare job, consider the above guide for help and advice about how to achieve that.