The Greater the Education, The Greater the Reward (and Risk)
Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Whitney Bator, Doctor of Dental Surgery, who began her pursuit of a profession in medicine beginning in high school and ultimately found success after years of education and training.
I ask my son often what he wants to be when he grows up because I am genuinely interested in and delighted by what ideas are driving his unique mind, and what lights his soul on fire. Without fail his response is always along the lines of paleontologist, conservationist, or zoologist –he loves animals and facts and research and the list goes on. Do you remember your own unwavering conviction when adults would ask you, with earnest (or perhaps they were just making child appropriate small talk) what you wanted to be when you grew up? Your response likely changed any number of times, but whatever that dream career was in the given moment that the question was asked, you were unshakeable in your response…that is until you had your first encounter with doubt and uncertainty.
Despite our ever-evolving interests and passions, there are certain career paths that necessitate certainty (even if only temporary) in their pursuit due to the financial, personal, and educational sacrifices required.
According to data recently published by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) the United States will see a shortage of up to nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032 due to demand increasing at rates faster than supply can meet.
- The shortage will include both primary care and specialty care providers.
- The major factor driving demand for physicians continues to be a growing, aging population.
- The supply of physician assistants (Pas) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) is projected to continue to increase ultimately leading to an over saturation of providers in these fields.
- The shortage will most drastically affect historically underserved and rural areas, but will be felt (and already is) by patients everywhere.
The Risk | Our nation is facing a dire shortage of medical providers.
The Reward | For those interested in pursuing a career in medicine, there is job security, opportunity, and a 6-figure salary on the other side of all the sacrifices made.
Health-care and medical pathways have always been at the forefront of interest for high school career education programs, but the pandemic has only further accelerated this demand according to EducationWeek.
- Students see a need and want to be a part of the solution.
- “Health care, like most career fields, took a massive hit in the immediate wake of the coronavirus, with 1.5 million health-care jobs lost from February to April of last year. But as the virus spread, health care lost fewer jobs and bounced back more quickly than the U.S. labor market as a whole.”
The Risk | Hands-on training is a challenge, both for high school students in work-study and job-shadowing positions and in residency programs and placements for medical students.
The Reward | The predicted physician shortage will be met with a supply of adaptable, innovative, and compassionate providers who received their education in the midst of a global pandemic. Students are not being scared away from the profession, in fact, one of the educators surveyed by EducationWeek noted that of her “18 seniors in the medical pathway last spring, a dozen were put on the state’s nurse aide registry after graduation.”
Is There a Doctor in the House?
The truth is, if you, or someone in your life wants to pursue a career in medicine, it is never too late to do so, and there are many ways to climb the rungs on the ladder to achieve a successful career filled with rewards after taking calculated risks along the way.
- Explore Your Options | If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in medicine, investigate the profession as much as possible before you begin climbing the ladder. Interview local doctors and specialists, seek out clinical experience and job shadowing, and ensure the rigorous coursework is worth the rigor.
- Experience Other Things | In our interview with Whitney Bator, DDS, she offered this advice to her younger self and those interested in pursuing a career that requires financial, personal and educational sacrifices like medicine and law; she advised listeners to take time to explore other interests and pursuits to ensure the sacrifices to be made won’t be made in vain.
- Do Your Homework | Know the academic prerequisites for admission, find an academic advisor who will help guide you in your endeavors, and take advantage of secondary and post-secondary opportunities like concurrent credit courses and medical certifications. Pursue extracurricular activities that will set you apart while also providing practical experience and a front row seat to the impact of your future profession; consider scholarly research positions, working as a medical scribe, or volunteering at a local clinic.
- Fund Your Future | While debt is an inevitable risk for the reward of a career in medicine, you can mitigate how much of that risk you take on by being proactive in finding funding. Here is an incredible resource compiled by Kevin Keith, a third-year medical student at the Medical University of South Carolina on getting started.
- Set Your Course & Your Boundaries | Once you’ve determined your educational and career path, it’s important that you know what to say NO to so that you can preserve your YESES for the ones that are the best. You will likely have years of saying NO to things you would like to do in order to say YES to the things you have to do in the pursuit of your goal. Find the people you can turn to who will understand your current sacrifices, who will support you, and who will love you through this season.
“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela
With every career path there are risks and rewards, and sacrifices made in the pursuit of becoming a paleontologist or a pathologist. If it sets your soul on fire, the sacrifices are never made in vain.