First, think of a few things you are naturally good at. These are your current skills. Education, practice and/or training can help you develop these skills and build new ones. While many skills are acquired through academic education, others are gained through experiential opportunities. For example, working in a clinic may enhance your competency in working across language barriers.
Next, think about how you spend your free time. What would you choose to do on a completely free day? What kinds of topics do you enjoy reading about? What projects are most rewarding to you? These activities are most likely aligned with your true passions and interests. Ask your friends, teachers, supervisors, and co-workers what they have observed to be your strongest skills. They may see qualities in you that you may not see in yourself.
Assess your skills and interests and how they align with careers. To the right are some resources you can use to investigate and assess your skills and interests, and see how they match up with different occupations. This is not an exhaustive list, but a starting point.
Checkpoint: What do you do if your interests and skills do not match the profession you're most interested in?
- Assessing your skills and interests allows you to identify and evaluate areas that are challenging for you. Know that circumstances beyond your control may influence your path as well. Ask yourself these questions, before deciding on a career path:
- What are the specific challenges/barriers to pursuing my career of interest?
- How can I strategize to overcome these barriers?
- What are possible alternate plans to my career of interest?
Examples of potential barriers may include:
- Competitive admission pools. Many health professional programs have a larger number of applicants than there are slots for admission. As a result, some well-qualified students may not be offered admission.
- Challenges with math and science courses. Almost all health professional preparation programs require strong competency in math and science.
- Emotional resiliency. Health professionals are often required to work under stressful conditions and with vulnerable people. How can you learn to remain positive and energized in this kind of environment?
- Proximity to people. Many health professions will require you to deal closely with people who are ill. This may involve handling blood, body fluids, needles, etc. Will this be a challenge for you to overcome?