Want To Make a Difference In Your Community? Consider Working in Healthcare

Tiffany Stronghart September 29, 2023
Close up of a doctor taking a woman by the arm

If you’re looking for a field in which you’ll leave work everyday knowing you made a difference in someone’s life, consider working in healthcare. 

Jill Saxton, a nurse practitioner who teaches in the RN-to-BSN program at UW-Milwaukee, started her nursing career right out of high school. She took a job as a CNA in a nursing home at 18, and found that caring for her nursing home residents didn’t feel like work. 

Quite simply: “People needed help and I was able to help them,” she says. “That gave me fulfillment.”

Jill also realizes that while direct patient care may not be for everyone, there are other ways healthcare workers can fulfill their passion for helping others.

“Even if you’re not doing the direct care, there’s so many ways that we can gain fulfillment in our career versus just going in and punching a clock 9 to 5. There are many jobs that don’t use medical skills.”

Because of the large number of job openings, healthcare workers can also try a variety of roles if they choose.

“If you’re in one job that’s not giving you all you need, you can find another one that fits you better,” Jill says.

Being a nurse educator can also provide you with fulfillment. Jill enjoys being an instructor because, like all nurses, she’s an advocate for patient care and loves working with students to help them learn how to give the same terrific care. The nursing courses she teaches are challenging, “but that’s because we have people’s lives in our hands,” she says. “After giving 20 good years of nursing I had a lot to share from my own experiences.” 

Nursing educators can give their students evidence-based education to help them thrive while still maintaining a compassionate side of nursing.

“You want to put your own family in the case of our patients – how would you want them to be treated? You need to convey that, and hopefully help [students] gain those qualities. As educators, you are role models, and you get that fulfillment out of helping more students become nurses.”

Abigail Sincoular, who is working toward earning her BSN in the UW Flexible Option RN-to-BSN program through UW-Milwaukee, shared a similar sentiment while working with new nurses.

I want to be a positive influence to educate and support nursing students and new nurses,” she says. Through experiences both in nursing practice and schooling, Abigail quickly adapted to her role in precepting and as a stat nurse, and realized how much she had learned in a short amount of time. “I was able to answer questions, help out and even pass on tips to new nurses that I had learned and worked well for me. I have always loved helping people, which is my obvious draw to nursing, but being able to teach nursing has been a big inspiration in my drive to continue my education.”

And if direct patient care isn’t for you, there are other job opportunities in the healthcare field that make a huge impact. One example of a healthcare role in which patients are being helped directly – though not necessarily through bedside care – is information technology. 

Lucas Pralle, a cybersecurity master’s student, is currently working at Marshfield Clinic Health Systems as a PC Maintenance Technician. He began working in this role after realizing his own passion for helping others. He had taught basic digital literacy to adult learners in Rhode Island who were financially limited in resources and brought laptops to class they’d bought secondhand. These computers constantly suffered malware attacks, and Lucas fixed their machines on the side since most couldn’t afford to take them to a computer repair shop. He took a few cybersecurity courses at this time to help him fix their computers, and even received a security certification. After moving back to Central Wisconsin, where he was raised, he enrolled in the UW cybersecurity program and pivoted his career to IT. 

His goal is to eventually land a role in information security, knowing the importance of protecting environments like hospitals and clinics from outside threats. 

“When these attacks happen, because of the digital nature of this stuff, entire operations can grind to a halt, which can be deadly in a healthcare environment. And the thing about healthcare that makes it very unique is that these organizations are very complex business operations. You’ve got your laptop, where you’re looking at your email, or you’re looking at the medical records. And you also have an EKG machine hooked up to the network that needs to work or an MRI machine or a helicopter. Or a dispatch for an ambulance. They are very complex organizations. I do like being in health care because I always want to make sure that, in my life, I want to feel like I’m making a difference.”

While Lucas may not be physically caring for patients as they recover from surgery or an illness, he’s caring for their personal information and ensuring all of the technology used to power the machines or communicate with the ambulance they arrived in is working properly. Data hygiene is almost as important as physical hygiene – without these preventive measures, a patient’s health and financial information can easily be in jeopardy.

“When I’m walking around, when I’m seeing patients, when I’m helping out providers and different staff and things like that, there’s never a day where I go home and I wonder if I did something that mattered, because it’s clear. And that’s exactly where I want to be.”

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