How to Visualise Your Future Healthcare Career

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As far as we know, we human beings are unique in our ability to think about things that don’t yet exist or haven’t happened yet. When we think of something new, like a career in healthcare, our imagination creates a picture that isn’t real. 

This “dreaming” happens in our minds, so, to turn a dream into reality, we have to do practical, real things. 

As the backbone of our healthcare system, nursing is the example we will use.

You dream about being a nurse, but you need qualifications to work as one. But what do you need to enter nursing school? How much will it cost? What if you took the wrong matric subjects? How do you get there from here?

Imagine You are Already There

Imagine for a moment that you are already a nurse, experienced, working the night-shift at the maternity ward at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, crumpled uniform, tired feet, your nurse’s badge pinned on your shoulder with pride.. As you help a nervous mother nurse her tiny baby, you remember how you started your career in healthcare as a community healthcare worker…

Visualising – using our imaginations to paint a clear, detailed and specific picture of the future we want – helps you to achieve your goals. Your brain actually struggles to tell the difference between reality and a detailed visualisation that includes senses and emotions. So when you imagine being that nurse on night shift, with sounds and smells and feelings, your brain thinks it is real – and you are more likely to achieve success. 

It also helps to write your goals down – in handwriting. When you write something by hand, a brain-to-hand connection happens that helps your brain remember information better in different ways.

So, start drawing your map to success by seeing yourself in that position, with all the senses and feelings you can imagine, and write your goals down.

Person pointing to a map planning their healthcare career.
Map out your future healthcare career by working backwards

Fill in the Gaps

Now you know where you’re going and need to fill in the map of your journey – this is when ‘working backwards’ becomes useful. Start with your visualisation – you are a fully qualified nurse, then start asking – so how did you get here from where you started? 

The most direct route to be a registered nurse is 4 years of full-time study to earn a Bachelor Degree – but perhaps right now you can’t afford 4 years of study or you need better marks to qualify. But then how did you become a registered nurse – as you imagine? 

You need to do some research – that practical work again. Research helps you fill in the details of the whole ‘map of nursing’ and find all the choices you have, not just the first route you know. 

You need 4 years of study, but don’t have it – so how can you build to 4 years? You could start with studying for 3 years for a Nursing Diploma – and then a supplementary course to complete your Bachelor Degree. But what if you haven’t yet studied for 3 years? 

You could study for a year for a higher certificate to be an auxiliary nurse, then complete your Diploma and Degree through a bursary scheme. And start it all with a learnership you take as a community healthcare worker, which you qualified for after improving your maths marks by writing a supplementary exam – which is where you are now, as a school-leaver.

Working backwards from your future healthcare career to research the practical ways to achieve it, helps you find the options that best suit you and your current resources.

Find a Great Role Model

The next step is to start practising how to achieve success. 

We all have someone we admire and respect for what they’ve accomplished – and when we think of other people and interact with them, we can start picking up their habits and behaviours. Even our brain waves can change and start looking like the other person’s. So the people we hang out with make a difference in how we think and act.

This means that no matter your final goal, positive support and encouragement from your friends and family will help you achieve – and spending time with people who say you’ll never get there, or that you don’t need to study or get a better job, will make you feel like that too. 

So start hanging out with people who are also setting goals, who are also prepared to work hard or study further to achieve success. And practise thinking like your confident, strong, hard-working role model to train your brain like theirs – confidence really can be contagious.  

Be Prepared to be Surprised

As you develop your roadmap to success, be prepared to be surprised and always learning. The world changes quickly these days – and your dreams may change to keep up! 

South Africa desperately needs more qualified healthcare workers, especially nurses, so we have healthy people able to work and build our country. And the work of a nurse will change and grow too, as we create new ways to provide quality healthcare to everyone.

We’ll use technology and telemedicine to ‘bring’ specialist doctors to rural areas, working with local nurses. We’ll have new diseases and medicines, and new things we discover about our bodies and how they work. 

Change will create new choices and different opportunities that didn’t exist when you first laid out your map to success, so staying curious about the world and open to learning new things will help you adapt and evolve your plans as life changes. 

Start Today

By creating a clear roadmap to your future healthcare career, it’s clearer to see the results of choices that you make, including the ones you make at the beginning. 

Your subject choices today will affect your future healthcare career plans.

Choosing between Maths Lit and Pure Maths in school may seem not that important – when you’re in school – but looking back as a time-travelling, experienced, qualified nurse, you can clearly see the different roads that lead from that choice, some ways smoother and faster than others.

So, start drawing your roadmap to success today, with the resources you have right now – goals and ambitions are what make a dream a reality.