Pursue a Health Care Career While You Are Still in High School

Students at a Scrubs camp event next to an EMS helicopter.=

Which health care career interests you the most? Of course, there are a lot of students who want to be a doctor or nurse. These are highly respected professions. But there are vast possibilities you have never even heard of. Some students have specific and less common interests, such as “I want to be a radiologic technician.” Or, “I want to be an anesthesiologist.” It is certainly not necessary to choose a specific field while still in high school, but being interested, being inspired looks like a lot more fun than being uninterested. In fact, inspiration is the only secret weapon to achieve a rewarding career. Beyond that, it takes hard work to gain knowledge and skills.

From Exploration to Experiences

How do you develop a strong career interest?

  • Start by exploring careers. This website allows you to explore a wealth of valuable information as well as videos showing careers in the work environment.

    Once you learn a bit about the range of health care careers that exist and can name a few that you want to know more about, be sure to talk to parents and relatives about it. These adults can suggest ways that you can interact with those that work in health care. You can learn a lot by speaking with health care professionals if you can access them through your network of friends and family.
  • Students who gain a strong interest will often point to their experiences. A student with a broken bone learns first-hand what a radiologic technician does. A student who needs surgery may be reassured and impressed by an interaction with an anesthesiologist. Other students may interact with health care professionals when a family member is treated.

Of course, we don’t want our family or ourselves to need medical treatment, so what other ways can you get experience with health care careers?

Health care poses some unique challenges to gaining experience. Even while in high school, you can design and build something for engineering experience or start a small venture for business experience, but diagnosing or treating patients requires knowledge, skills, and credentials. There are also limitations on tours and job shadowing due to patient privacy and to ensure that care is not affected. On top of all that, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited entry to care facilities to prevent spreading the virus. This raises the importance of online and virtual experiences.

HOSA-Future Health Professionals is another great way to gain health science experience while in high school. Minnesota HOSA is the Minnesota affiliate of this international student organization that develops leadership and skills in health science through motivation, awareness, and recognition experiences. HOSA is student-led, and the student leaders provide the best introduction to why you would want to join.

Join Minnesota HOSA

If virtual and organized experiences described above fuel your desire to learn and do more in health care, you should consider getting a part-time or summer job in health care, either volunteer or paid. The roles that you can fill before you are an adult and before you obtain higher education are limited, but they do exist, and they can be very rewarding and a rich source of experience. Long-term care and senior care provide your best shot at work experience while you are in high school. And, it is great experience no matter your health care career goal – audiologist, clinical laboratory scientist, nurse, neurosurgeon, phlebotomist, physical therapist, or whatever – all entail either providing care or helping those who provide care. See more about working in senior care.

Any experience you get providing care will help you in your career pursuit and development. Plus, you will increase your opportunities to interact with healthcare professionals and learn from them. If you are working, they will know that you are serious.

A quick google search for “long-term care facilities near me” will provide you a list to contact. Call and ask if they provide volunteer or paid work experience for high school students, and if so, how you can be considered for one of these jobs. If you do this soon, you may find that opportunities are currently suspended due to the COVID pandemic. Access to long-term care has been restricted to prevent spreading the virus to residents. So, while this strategy is highly recommended, it will need to wait until after the pandemic.