What to Know About Pursuing a Career in Health Care


08.16.2021

Pursuing a career in the health care field can offer a number of rewards ranging from job security to control over your schedule to limitless employment paths. But starting a position in this industry requires intense schooling and notable extracurricular activities.
 
You should consider the following as you make decisions about your future career:
 
Schooling
Nursing School
Laurie Castellano, RN, an education specialist at Palomar Health, recommends doing well in your required courses, including chemistry, physics and biology. She also doesn’t sugar coat the difficulty of this decision. “Nursing school is hard to get into, and has a long waiting list,” she says. “So, take your classes seriously.”
 
Medical School
Depending on the type of program you choose, you will most likely need to take a standardized test for admission, such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) or the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). You are looking at four years beyond an undergraduate program for a standard medical degree award, and years beyond that for surgical specializations.
 
Experience
Once you finish your degree, you need to start paying off those school loans. But getting hired without experience makes the process much more difficult. You should look into volunteering or an internship while you are a student to put you ahead of your competition.
 
Volunteering
Volunteering can include anything from spending time at a retirement home to extracurricular activities that put you in contact with doctors or patients.
 
You can find suitable volunteer assignments based on skills, preferences, location and experience. Palomar Health offers volunteer opportunities in the surgical waiting room, birth center and emergency department, among others.
 
Internships
Internships allow students to serve alongside health care professionals in many facets of the industry, working together to provide patient support under the guidance of staff in the provision of a safe and comfortable environment.

Palomar Health provides a Pathmaker internship in which interns are on-boarded every three months.

“I really enjoyed getting a ton of hands-on direct patient experience during my internship,” says former Pathmaker intern Marissa Signer. “My favorite rotation was in the labor and delivery unit. I was able to attend several deliveries.” Signer notes that being a Pathmaker allowed her to also give back to the community, whether it be making someone more comfortable by getting them a blanket or taking them for a much needed walk around the hospital floor.
 
She says even the application process itself was beneficial practice for graduate school and physician assistant school applications. Pathmaker used the multiple mini-interview style similar to medical school interviews.
 
Networking
Hiring managers or hiring doctors often prefer to employ those they know personally or come via a recommendation. Joining networking groups in your community or even nationwide can expand your contacts. This can seem daunting, especially for those who gravitate toward smaller in-person connections. To combat this, you can focus on developing one or two relationships a week to make networking more palatable.
 
If you are interested in the Palomar Health Pathmaker internship, you can apply online.
 
If you are at least 18 years old, can commit to 100 hours of volunteer service throughout a year and are interested in volunteering with Palomar Health, you can apply online. (Please note: Palomar Health employees are unable to serve as interns or volunteers.)

​Photo caption: A health care career requires specific training and relevant extracurricular activities before you get hired.


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