A Day In The Life Of A Health Care StudentJun 10, 2020
A health care student generally leads a busy schedule that includes theoretical and clinical studies as well as practical lab work. Along with managing their workload, many health care students may also participate in extracurricular activities and hold part-time jobs. Being on the go for the entire week can be stressful for some students, and they may feel overwhelmed and find it hard to maintain a proper work-life balance. To counter this, it is a good idea to set up a routine that allows for enough rest and exercise and to maintain a supportive social network.
What Do Health Care Studies Cover?
Health care is a diverse field that is concerned with providing a range of health-related services to patients of all ages and backgrounds. If you want to get into a health care program, it helps to have a sound knowledge of biology and other life sciences. You will be able to choose from nursing, physical therapist assistant, dental assistant, dental hygiene, sonography and more.
Many of these are programs that will offer you a diploma, an associate degree or a bachelor's degree. However, you can also opt for shorter-term study programs that will lead to certificates and diplomas. You can take health care courses at community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools, online schools, and regular universities.
People with health care certificates, diplomas, and degrees can find work in a variety of capacities. These can include working as registered nurses, dental assistants, dental hygienists, massage therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and pharmacy technicians.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for health care jobs is positive. There is likely to be a 14% job growth in the health care sector in the 2018-2028 period (1).
What Does a Health Care Student Study?
Health care students have to study a wide range of subjects, and these can vary according to their specific field. To give an example, a health care student, who is specializing in medicine, may study palliative care, patient safety, nutrition, geriatrics, health diversity, health care reform, and exercise and sports medicine. On the other hand, someone who is focusing on pathology may study cell pathology, immunology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and pharmacology.
If you are unsure about which courses will benefit you for your intended career in health care, it would be a good idea to get advice from a professor or a counselor. You can also research online and have discussions with senior students in your health care field.
At the start of the health care program, you should figure out when you study best, and you should structure your study routine accordingly. For some people, early mornings offer the most productive scope, and they can get a lot done by waking up early. Others might find it more convenient to study in the evenings.
While everyone has their own study method, you will benefit from reading the study material and books before your lectures. It will make it easier to understand what the professor is saying, and you can also jot down questions to ask in class. Additionally, you can make note cards of important points and look through them every day. Daily preparation will serve you better for the exams than last-minute studies.
What Are Some Health Care Courses?
As mentioned before, a wide range of programs come under the gamut of health care. Here are some of them:
- Health care management
- Geriatric nursing
- Medical assisting
- Pharmaceutical science
- Alternative medicine
- Public health
- Emergency medicine
- Critical care medicine
- Intensive care medicine
- Health care IT
- 2D Echocardiography
- Pain management
- Massage therapy
Each course will cover relevant topics that will give you a deeper understanding of the subject matter. For instance, if you pick health care management, your studies will include human resources management, compliance and risk management, and operations management. You will also study health care finance and accounting, marketing and information technology, medical ethics, and public health care regulations.
In many cases, practical training and laboratory work will be part of the program. The training will increase your health care knowledge and skills, and provide you with a better understanding of how to recognize and deal with issues that could affect patient health and safety. If you are a medical assistant student, for example, the skills you will develop can include understanding medical front office procedures, laboratory diagnostic procedures, medical terminology, and the body systems. You will learn how to carry out venipuncture and EKG. You will also get practice in administering medications.
What Is a Typical Day Like For a Health Care Student?
Health care students usually have a full day of lectures, clinical work, and group studies, and have to chalk in time for independent studying as well. Their exact schedule will, of course, vary according to their specialization and year.
Here's what a typical day is like for a health care student:
Many health care institutions have early morning timings. Health care students may wake up around 4 a.m. and study until it is time for college. They may have to attend their first lecture of the day at 8 a.m. There will be different course lectures, depending on the program. For instance, a medical student may have lectures on antibiotics, urinalysis, hyponatremia, aortic stenosis, and liver pathophysiology.
The lectures may last for two hours, and most students will take notes or audio recordings during them and ask questions to clarify the parts that they don't understand. To get the most out of the lectures, it will help to pre-read the material before classes and identify key points. By getting into the habit of self-directed learning, you will be able to deepen your health care knowledge.
Undergoing Clinical/Practical Training
Depending on what the health care specialization is and the year of study, students may have to attend clinical and practical training before their lectures or after. Practical training can range from taking vital signs and blood, urine, and tissue samples for lab analysis to carrying out more complicated procedures. In later years, there will be more emphasis on clinical training.
Health care students must learn how to calmly and compassionately provide patients with information about their particular health conditions and the treatment methods for these. As part of their training, health care students may have to make presentations before groups of people. To do this effectively, it will be necessary to develop good public speaking skills.
Participating in Extracurricular Programs
While the health care curriculum can be demanding, health care students need to make time for extracurricular activities to gain additional knowledge and experience. These activities may also help you with developing a network in the health care field and with finding work after you graduate. Check if your college has a program or club/student organization that volunteers in the local community or collects much-needed supplies for people in need. You can also look for other opportunities such as assisting with medical research, working at a local clinic, doing a stint as a teaching assistant, and participating in science fairs and competitions.
Health care students may participate in these types of extracurricular activities in the evenings or on weekends. However, the extracurricular programs don't always have to be health care related; you can join an art or music program if you enjoy those. The point is to find things to do that can either help your future career or help you become more well-rounded, which will again help your career in the long run.
Socializing With Other Students
Socializing with your peers, seniors, and juniors is an essential part of college life. It can also prove to be as beneficial for your future as studying and participating in extracurricular activities. It will allow you to build strong relationships and support networks. These social associations can prove to be invaluable in helping you to stay focussed and gain more health care knowledge. Your older friends, for example, might help you out with notes and study tips. By providing you with the psychological support you need, they can also play a crucial role in keeping your stress levels down.
These relationships will stand you in good stead after you graduate and are looking for a job. You may learn about available positions that many health care employers don't advertise on regular job boards. Later, you will also be able to share and receive medical information with your network to find new and upcoming treatments for your patients.
Whether they are morning people or night owls, most health care students establish and follow a regular study routine. It can involve reading through course textbooks and other assigned reading material and taking detailed notes. These notes, especially with the key-points highlighted, can help them better understand and remember the coursework. It is far better than cramming, which most study experts don't recommend. They do, however, advise health care students to review their study materials and notes daily.
Cracking open the books right before an exam or a quiz is not ideal. It may help you pass, but you shouldn't forget that you are studying for a long-term career, and you need to get a handle on the main concepts for that. If you are part of a study group, you should review how it is working out for you. While it may work for some people, that type of study method isn't for everyone, and you should back out if you are not benefiting from it.
To focus on your studies, you need to cut out all distractions. That means, during study hours, you need to switch off the smartphone, not check email, not surf the internet, not watch television, and not talk with friends.
Quick Tips for Smart Study Habits
Health care courses can be challenging and require students to pack in a great deal of information. If you know how to study, however, it can give you an edge in both theoretical and practical learning.
Here are some tips for smart study habits:
- Establish a regular study routine, be it in the morning or the evening, and stick to it. You will benefit more from studying daily than a week before the exam.
- Try to understand the concepts instead of memorizing the text. You will not learn much by cramming.
- Read ahead of your lectures, so you are not totally at sea about what the Professor is saying.
- Take notes while you read and highlight key points to review again.
- Study on your own, as it can be distracting to study in groups. People may ask questions or discuss things, and even if these are on topic, it can break your concentration.
- Turn off the television and don't check the phone or surf the internet during study hours. Focus entirely on your work.
- Collect copies of previous tests and answer as many questions as you can.
- Don't just stick to your assigned materials and books, but read as widely as possible on the given topics.
Additionally, you should eat well, exercise adequately, and get enough rest to stay fit and healthy.
As most health care students have to juggle a heavy coursework schedule, developing good organization and time management skills is a must. By meticulously following a regular study routine, you will be able to keep up with your studies and graduate with good grades. And the habit of being precise in your work will benefit you in your subsequent health care career.
1. "Occupational Outlook Handbook: Healthcare Occupations," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm