1. Shadow a healthcare professional. One of the best ways to get a feel for a particular healthcare profession is to plant yourself in the environment. Afton Yurkon, associate director of management and student affairs at the National Community Pharmacists Association, says this is an effective method for prospective pharmacists. "If you're interested in pharmacy in general, find local pharmacy owners and see what a typical day is like at their stores," she says. "[Or] intern at a hospital and see what a day is like there."
2. Join professional networks. Linking up with a professional healthcare network can be crucial because it solidifies old connections while opening doors to new ones. Investigate which associations or organizations are most worth joining. Some might require a small admission fee, while others are free.
3. Educate yourself. Whether you're taking a continuing education class in a popular massage therapy technique or combing through case studies on the latest pharmaceutical drugs, you should gain as much training as you can and follow the latest industry trends.
Laura Allen, a nationally licensed massage and body worker at THERA-SSAGE in Rutherfordton, N.C., says those interested in a massage therapy career should remember that training never ends: "My advice is to get the best education you can and realize that education does not stop at the massage school door. It's just beginning," she says. "Be as current as possible on research because there is a lot of it being done on massage therapy."
4. Attend seminars. Whether it's a one-day refresher course on paramedic dos and don'ts or an hour-long tutorial on Swedish massage techniques, seminars are chock-full of data that's beneficial to healthcare workers.
5. Seek a mentor. More often than not, there are a handful of established workers in a given field who seek to impart guidance to newcomers. These advisors abound in the pharmaceutical field, Yurkon says. "Any pharmacist would be more than happy to dedicate some time to speak with a student about what they do on a daily basis and kind of help them navigate the whole pharmacy school process, too and [guide them] on how to apply and where to find jobs," she says.
6. Tap into client concerns. People want to feel good, says Ruth Werner, president of the Massage Therapy Foundation in Evanston, Ill. That wellness-wish is physical as well as psychological. "There has always been an interest—but maybe it's rising—about looking for healthcare that does not involve knives or needles or drugs," she says. This switch in sentiment has prompted some healthcare professionals to practice alternative forms of medicine, Werner says. "So at this point, we're talking about complementary and integrative healthcare and we're talking about interventions that look like massage or meditation or yoga or tai chi," she says.
7. Volunteer at a health organization. Volunteering at a health clinic or hospital not only benefits others; it also spurs personal growth and networking opportunities, says Cynthia Ribeiro, president of the American Massage Therapy Association."You learn things you're not taught in massage school," she says. "I believe that volunteering in a hospital is very important. Giving massages to people in need can only bring growth and possibilities and more business for you. Once you give, you get back. It's part of life."
8.Embrace the variety. One healthcare profession can serve as a springboard to another, says New Jersey-based critical-care nurse Linda Gural. "If your personal feeling is for management, you can go into it—not just in nursing—but through the corporate end of healthcare," she says.