When we talk about a job in care, we don’t just mean carers. A job in care can be any profession where your main responsibility is to look after another person; a carer, a nurse, a doula, even a midwife and doctor. There are many levels of the different roles, however, they are all centered around looking after a person who is unable to do it for themselves. Within the US there are around 10 certified nurses to ever 1000 people, and a good number of those nurses work within the care-home sector instead of in hospitals. In the US a midwife is very uncommon. With only 101 certified midwives in the country, there are, however, nearly 12,000 certified nurse-midwives who are fully qualified for the job of delivering a baby. Compare this to the UK, whose midwives number around 11, 200, but are still short around 3,800 as of this year. You might be asking why are they short when the UK numbers nearly match the US one’s and in such a smaller country. Well, in the UK, births are all handled by midwives – a person trained in every aspect of delivery, before and aftercare, and most things surrounding babies and pregnancy.
No matter what country you are in – there is always a need for more medical and care professionals. With the average age of a human increasing each year, care homes and residential homes are on the rise. Just because a person can live longer doesn’t mean that their bodily functions can keep up with them. Nor does it mean that age-related diseases like alzheimer’s aren’t going to affect someone later on in life. With more elderly people, the more careers are needed to help them in this chapter in their lives.
But as needed and as rewarding as these roles can be – they are not for everyone. These career paths take a certain type of person to do them, to do them well, and to continue to do them for years to comes. Caring for someone is more than just bandaging a wound or tucking them in at night. You take the well being, and often the life, of a person into your hands, and it is up to you to ensure that they are cared for, as healthy as possible, and, hopefully, improving. If you are a doctor or midwife, your diagnosis can change a person’s life and is the springboard into one course of treatment over another. If you get it wrong, that’s on you. Any person in the care industry can cause serious harm, and even cost someone their life if they make a mistake.
Not only that but for the most part, the wage doesn’t reflect the level of responsibility you have in these roles. Nor does it compensate for the long hours spent on your feet at work, the physical strains of the job, nor the mental issues that can accompany the role.
A role in the care industry can be one of the most rewarding things – you can save someone’s life, help cure an array of ailments, and even help ease someone’s passing. The later doesn’t sound like fun, but it can be the last kindness that person receives. With all that in mind – is it the right career for you? A job in care has to be taken on because you love it. It is one of those jobs that you can only do if you love every part of it – well, you might not love the long hours, sore feet, and dealing with loss – but you have to love the rest of the job enough, that is made up for the horrible bits.
Depending on what role you are going for, you will need different levels and types of education. The person who has to study the longest is a surgeon; University followed by Medical School, followed by Surgical Training. Then you have doctors – however, to become a specialist doctor, you need specific training following medical school. Midwives and nurse need a degree in their chosen area. A career can have a degree, however, you don’t necessarily need one for this role. You will, however, need some basic qualifications in life support and first aid – but many care homes will provide in-house training for applicants. Remember that, in many cases, there is more than one path to achieve the job you want.
When you are in charge of a person’s well being, they are at their most vulnerable. You will see them at their weakest, where they have to trust you implicitly to maintain their dignity and pride. Your bedside manner is the only thing that will help them get through this time. Some people think that a good bedside manner is being quick and quiet, and that does work for some patients. But for others, they need some of your time, for you to listen and to go that extra mile, even though your days are long and you have a million and one things to do. Imagine that you are on your deathbed, and all you wanted was a chat to brighten up you morning, and the person who is supposed to be caring for you can’t spare five minutes? Imagine if that was your parent or grandparent? If you don’t think that you would be able to do any of these things, then this isn’t the right path for you.
Strength is arguably one of the most important traits you need to have for a role in the care industry. Strength of mind, strength of heart, and strength of stomach. You will see and experience things that you couldn’t ever dream of. They will be horrific, heartbreaking, and stomach-wrenching. You will see lost babies, festering wounds, amputations, cancer, and so many other things that you could happily go your whole life without seeing. But it’s your job to go in there and deal with it all, compassionately and with sympathy. You will see people die, and may have to prepare the body to be moved to the mortuary. Do you think you could do that? If you’re a radiographer, one of your roles is to x-ray the deceased before an autopsy. You will can to give life-shattering news to people every day. No one can go through all of that and not have it affect them in some way, and some things will stick with you for the rest of your life. But your strength will help people find their own to fight a disease, or to come to terms with a loss. Your strength will ensure that a patient’s dignity and pride is kept as much intact as possible – they might feel disgusting and embarrassed, but if you can do your job with nothing but a smile and sympathy – you’ll make them feel so much better. Your strength has the capacity to save so many people.
As we mentioned before – this job isn’t a cushy 9-5. It’s long hours, nights, weekends, school and bank holidays. Even Christmas. People don’t stop needing care just because it’s a Sunday or Christmas Day. The average shift is 12 hours in length, and it is very likely that you are on your feet for those full 12 hours. You might not be able to take your break at a decent time – if a baby is on it’s way, and you’re on your hands and knees guiding that little one out, while holding back the cord which oh-so-conveniently wants to be wrapped around the bambino’s neck, you don’t really have time for a cuppa. Often, people with small children are given preference at Christmas and school holidays, but they do try and rote each year. Whether you work for a private hospital or not, finding the right job that can give you some flexibility can be hard – Staffnurse.com boasts the best ones in the UK. No matter what, though, be prepared for some long days and even longer nights.
Being a carer in any capacity isn’t for the half-hearted; it’s a job that you have to throw yourself into without reserve.