When thinking of what it takes to be a successful health science student – and professional – I keep coming back to these three things: curiosity, compassion and courage.
You probably already have these characteristics, but have you thought about how they might be helpful in your career?
A career in the health sciences requires you to be a life-long learner. The best practitioners are those who regularly read journals, attend conferences and learn new skills to stay on top of what is happening in their field.
Students are often drawn to the health sciences because of their compassion for others. This is an important part of what it takes, but equally important is learning to treat yourself with compassion. That’s right. In order to be truly compassionate to others, you must also learn to be compassionate with yourself. There is actually something called “compassion fatigue” that occurs when someone overdoes caring for someone else, at their own expense. You may have heard the saying, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be of any good to anyone.” It’s true. Practice treating yourself as you would treat your loved ones.
Have you ever spoken up or taken action to defend someone? It’s not an easy thing to do. Have you ever spoken up in your own defense? Getting a little closer to home, can you imagine saying, “I will be studying,” when you’re invited to THE party of the year? Or, can you imagine leaving the party after just an hour or two – and with your faculties still intact? That takes courage. Choosing to intervene when you see a peer (whether it’s a classmate or a work colleague) about to make a mistake, takes courage.
Continue to practice using these traits as you prepare for your profession. It’s not an easy road to travel, but the rewards of learning, caring and helping are life-giving, life-changing and can be practiced at any age or any stage of training.
To learn more about your own strengths, go to https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/. Registration is required, but is free.
Under “Questionnaires” chose the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. This survey focuses on what is best in you and is at the center of the science of well-being and positive psychology.