If you’re looking to enter the medical field, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that now is a better time than ever to join. The medical field has long been short-staffed, with professionals required to work long hours and deal with traumatizing events on a daily basis: it was never a job for everyone and requires adequate preparation to deal with its hazards.
However, there are also problems inherent to the field that are only now beginning to be discovered and properly addressed that have contributed to this shortage.
The Situation: Why This Long-Term Shortage Persists
Take physicians, for example. According to Dr. Allen J. Frances from Psychology Today, there’s an inherent bias in the physician field that pushes a lot of med-school students towards specializations, resulting in a shortage of general practitioners.
Moreover, there’s also a shortage of residency positions available because of a lack of federal funding. This means that as much as there’s a need for physicians, there’s a lack of ability to properly train them, resulting in fewer positions available overall. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, by 2034, we will have a physician shortage on our hands of around 37,800 to 124,000 people.
For your purposes, this means that while there are positions available if you’re looking to become a physician, getting that position could be extremely difficult. And that’s just in one subset of the medical field: each has its own systemic problems that hinder the hiring process, making it more difficult for candidates to get in.
With Preparation, Anything is Possible
However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible. The medical field is constantly looking for new workers amidst a variety of disciplines, and if you’ve taken the time to invest in the requisite education, all you really need to do is crush your interviews.
Whether you’re looking to take your first steps into the medical field or you’re looking to expand the scope of your career, here are some common questions asked by interviewers you need to have answers prepared for.
Talk About Yourself: How Did You Get Here?
This is a common question asked by interviewers across disciplines, as they want to get a measure of your passion for the job and where you see yourself going years down the line. In a healthcare interview post-COVID, however, this question also allows them to test how resilient you’re going to be.
Healthcare workers are currently quitting in droves due to the burden being placed on them in the midst of COVID, having lost their passion for their work and believing that none of it makes a difference. Choosing to display your passion for the profession when an interviewer asks this question will help them know that you’re in it for the long haul, that you believe in the work you want to do, and that you want to put your efforts toward caring for others in this time of turmoil.
Testing Patient Rapport
Your interviewer may ask you how you plan to navigate communicating with patients and their families, a question that may have come up before the pandemic but is even more vital now. Patients who have contracted COVID are separated from family members, and so a greater burden falls upon physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals in general to keep families up-to-date on their condition in a sensitive, compassionate manner.
With this, you’ll want to lead with examples of how you plan on keeping families in the loop. Some solid answers given by other candidates include calling the family regularly, placing phones in plastic bags and allowing patients to speak with family directly, and similar measures.
Questions will also likely be asked about how to communicate bad news to a patient. In answering this question, show that you know essential steps to convey such matters properly:
- Gather all required information before addressing the patient to make sure all questions can be properly answered.
- Make sure the patient is alone, or only with people who they want to hear the information as well. Get their explicit consent for anyone still in the room when the news is delivered.
- Explain the situation frankly but kindly, not glossing over anything and using plain, easily understood phrasing.
- Answer all questions, and tell the party about the next steps before leaving the room.
Measuring and Coping With Risk
You will also likely be asked about how you deal with high-stress, high-risk situations. The chances are that if you’re planning on entering any position in the medical field right now, you’ll encounter someone who has COVID, whether they’re displaying symptoms or not.
If the interviewer asks this question, you’ll want to have thought about potentially risky scenarios that you might get into, such as treating a patient with COVID firsthand or interacting with coworkers who may have the disease. Explain that you are aware of the risk involved, and list some measures you would take to keep yourself safe, as well as any measures you can take to make sure your mental health is taken care of: healthcare providers are becoming aware of the importance of their staff’s mental health, and showing you’re ahead of the curve can be valuable.
Whether you’re planning on entering a competitive field, like becoming a physician, or whether you’re planning on starting smaller, like a hospital tech, preparing for the above questions will help you crush the interview and land the position of your dreams.