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Being a doctor or another front line health care worker is a tough job, especially in the last year. But health care workers have been an inspiration during this unprecedented pandemic.
Just in case they've gotten you thinking about becoming a doctor one day, we asked two doctors at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to share some advice for aspiring docs.
Be ready to study a lot, but you don't have to be an ‘A' student
It's important to remember you'll have to spend several years in school before becoming a doctor, first in medical school and then training in a specific field of medicine. Patients expect their doctors to have the knowledge and skills to care for them.
But the key is a love of learning, said Dr. Ericka Lawler, orthopedic surgeon. If you're willing to work hard and spend a lot of time studying, 'then you can be successful,” she said.
It's equally important doctors be compassionate and be able to build good relationships with their patients, said Dr. Sharon Beth Larson, a cardiothoracic surgeon.
'In medicine, it truly is not only preserving but improving the quality of life for your patient,” Larson said.
Don't worry if you don't know what you're interested in
Nowadays there are plenty of opportunities to 'subspecialize” in a field of medicine. For example, you don't just have to be a heart doctor. You can be a heart doctor for children, or you can specialize in heart transplants.
You don't have to know what you're interested in right now. Larson said medical school will expose students to many different fields they might not have considered before, both in hospital and clinic settings.
Find ways to learn about jobs in health care
Anyone interested in health care should take advantage of volunteer opportunities at hospitals or nursing homes, or opportunities to shadow doctors on the job. Students also can explore the field through STEM programs offered at schools or through colleges and universities.
Even if it turns out you don't want to be an MD, there are many different jobs in health care and numerous careers that use science and medicine that might catch your eye.