The field of healthcare is one that is rife with many potential career opportunities. From physicians to technicians, there are an abundance of jobs to choose from that vary greatly in both the type of work that is done as well as the advancement opportunities available. That being said, a great many of the more prominent positions in healthcare can be challenging to become qualified for.

If you are looking to start a career in healthcare, it is important to understand that you will need to dedicate a great deal of time and energy into the process. For instance, anyone looking to become an M.D. will need to be prepared for at least seven to eight years of schooling followed by several years in a residency program before they can be qualified to practice independently.

The role of physician is far from the only one that requires a significant investment of time in regard to education and preparation. Nurses, dentists, physician’s assistants, and many others dedicate a great deal of time to acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge for the job they are looking to fill.

Although there is no way to drastically reduce the amount of time that one must spend on education and preparation for a job in the medical world, there are ways of quickening the process in some instances. If you are eager to begin your career in healthcare sooner rather than later, here are a few things that you can consider doing in order to achieve your full potential as a healthcare worker in as little time as possible.

Accelerated Programs

It is no secret that there is a troubling lack of qualified physicians and nurses within the healthcare community at the moment. Furthermore, this is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. As more of the population enters the latter stages of life, quality healthcare workers are in demand now more than ever.

For this and other reasons, many institutions that provide education for physicians, nurses, and the like have created accelerated programs that are designed to provide the necessary education and training that are needed for a certain role faster. While not everyone looking to obtain a certain degree will qualify for such programs, there are plenty of instances in which such a program would be applicable.

One example where an accelerated program would be advisable is if an individual already holds a bachelor’s degree, but would like to obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in order to become a fully qualified nurse. Such an individual can choose from a number of excellent accelerated nursing programs online that would allow them to complete their BSN in as little as 16 months.

While the process of applying for and obtaining a nursing license will remain the same, an accelerated program can be a great way to expedite the education and training process required to become a qualified healthcare worker in certain cases.

Choose a Combined Program

Traditionally, someone who wanted to become a physician in the U.S. would first need to attend a four-year university course and complete a pre-med or some other applicable degree. Once that degree was completed, they would then sit for the MCAT and apply to medical school once their results were in. Medical school typically takes another four years to complete, depending on your pathway.

However, there are a few schools that now offer students the chance to enter into a combined program. This essentially involves getting accepted to a school for your undergraduate degree and medical degree at the same time.

While some such programs will still result in eight years of schooling, others can be completed in as little as six or seven years. Moreover, they provide the assurance that you will be accepted into medical school without having to take a gap year.

It is not uncommon for students applying to medical school to not be accepted the first time. This means that they will need to either retake the MCAT for a better score or do other things to make themselves stronger candidates for medical school. This can result in a loss of time, so to speak, of at least a year if not two. By getting accepted into a combined program right off the bat, you will not risk the potential of taking a gap year, something that can greatly prolong your journey to becoming a physician.

Know Your Goals

Another thing that can stand in the way of starting your career in healthcare sooner rather than later is not really knowing what you want to get out of such a career. With so much time dedicated to the education and qualification process, it is easy for goals and aspirations to become convoluted.

Perhaps you were not entirely sure at the start of your bachelor’s degree precisely which degree would best suit you, so you opted for a degree in biology instead of choosing something like chemistry. Later down the line, it occurs to you that your preference would be to pursue a career in medical research instead of as a physician. This can mean that you will need to go back and ensure that you have completed all the required coursework that you need to have under your belt in order to be accepted to a good graduate program.

Instead of simply figuring things out as you go along, do your very best to set out clear and defined goals for yourself in regard to your future career. While it is always possible and not at all unlikely that your goals will change along the way, you will not be likely to start your career any sooner if all you have in your mind is a vague idea of a career in medicine.

Prior to starting your education at all, take the time to sit down and engage in some real self-reflection. Having a clear picture in your mind of what you hope to achieve will allow you to make the right decisions along the way.