Common Healthcare Career Myths

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Whether you're a veteran healthcare worker or just starting out, some long-held myths about working in healthcare industry can hinder your career -- or stop you before you even get started. Monster asked healthcare professionals about seven common healthcare career myths. Learn the truth to avoid falling for these fallacies.

Myth 1: The nursing shortage guarantees me the perfect job when I graduate.

"While the shortage of nurses is acute across the United States, great locations and great organizations turn away candidates," says Neill Marshall, managing partner with Marshall Koll & Associates, an executive search firm specializing in hospital and healthcare. "These organizations have their pick of the best and brightest."

Myth 2: If I attend only a two-year college, I won't be a real nurse.

"An associate's degree in nursing (ADN) is required to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination along with students who have earned bachelor's degrees in nursing," says Val Richardson, director of workforce development for Palmetto Health in South Carolina. ADN programs are offered at local technical colleges.

Myth 3: I need a four-year degree to be a practicing radiology technician.

"Radiology technicians usually complete a two-year program at a technical college," Richardson says. "Rad techs are sometimes confused with radiologists. Radiologists are physicians who¿diagnose and treat disease using X-rays."

Radiologic technologists, on the other hand, undergo one to four years of training, leading to a certificate or an associate's or bachelor's degree. Their job responsibilities are broader in scope than those of radiologic technicians.

Myth 4: Continuing education (CE) is important only if I plan to pursue management positions.

On the contrary, CE credits are usually required to maintain licenses and certifications. For example, radiologic technologists must earn 24 CE credits every two years.

CE could also prepare you for a lateral move to a different team, department or organization, or it could simply help you improve your performance in your current position, says Julia Hooper, director of hospital education and workforce development at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital.

"What do you want in your career?" Hooper says. "I have asked employees off and on over the last 20 years and have experienced a range of emotions, from eye rolling, laughter, shrugged shoulders, frustration and, most often, tears. It's a question that cuts to the core of us, because it is that important to our very being. Continuing education needs to start with you so that you can best describe who you are in relation to your career."

Ellen Lipman, MS, RT, director of professional development for the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, agrees. "Continuing education can be more rewarding for individuals if time is taken to identify career and personal-development goals," she says. "Aim for focused, self-directed and self-initiated learning opportunities. All healthcare providers must remember that ultimately, we are in this business to provide quality patient care."

Myth 5: Once I become a clinician, I will be stuck in my role.

"Today, there are hundreds of different opportunities for clinicians outside of standard clinical roles," Marshall says. "Many pharmaceutical companies are looking for clinicians in a variety of roles. Consulting companies are always looking for seasoned clinicians. Management always beckons for those willing to acquire advanced education and gain the necessary skill sets.

Myth 6: To protect my patients and myself from emotional stress, I must not establish a relationship with them.

"The provider/patient relationship requires respect, integrity, trust and compassion," says Dr. Georgianna Donadio, founder and executive director of the New England School of Whole Health Education. "Without creating an equity-based relationship built on these values, the provider cannot facilitate patients' healing in an authentic and appropriate way."

Myth 7: A degree in healthcare will allow me to help other people in the way that I want to.

"Helping patients looks different from each specialist's perspective," Donadio says. "Some of the interactions can be rewarding, but, often, unless you are a licensed provider of a healthcare treatment-focused specialty, you will be asked to do the grunt work so that the practitioner can have more time to spend with the patients."

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