From a young age, I knew I wanted a career where I could provide help, support and guidance to others. What that career would be I was unsure of until after graduating college. However, I knew I wanted it to be in the healthcare industry in one form or another. My first job out of college was at an ear, nose and throat doctor’s office where I learned my fair share about hearing aids, patients, health issues and basic career skills. Simultaneously, I worked as a physical therapy aide and learned how to perform electrical stimulation, heat therapy and various exercises to help rehabilitate patients. Reflecting back on the patients I helped and the positions I held, there are three important and unified lessons that have helped me as I entered the world of healthcare PR: patience, empathy and time management.
Not everything will come to fruition immediately and often the process may take months whether it’s a medical diagnosis or byline. Patients often believe their symptoms will be cured immediately after a visit and often that is not the case. As for PR some projects and articles take time and several review cycles before a byline or article is ready and even then it may take months for an article to run.
You never know what a patient or client may be going through on a personal level and understanding how to empathize with them is key. There were days when a patient would be short or irritated and it took time to learn that they might be experiencing a personal issue or medical complication that was affecting them in every aspect of life. The same applies to clients that we work with, some conversations may not be as pleasant as others, but that may be because there is some larger issue at hand separate from work or internal pressure from a boss to hit metrics.
I often observed how one appointment with a patient could go from a half hour to an hour quickly. Leaving other patients waiting and irritated, learning to help others manage their time and remind them. Working in PR now I have to be very strategic about how I structure my day and spend my time. If I end up spending too long on one project I place my self and team in a tight spot to deliver what is needed to our clients on time. Staying on track for tasks is key for both industries to be successful.
Working directly with patients (although brief), helped me define a comprehensive outlook, a strong work ethic and a lasting impact on what it means to provide a service and support to someone in need. The healthcare industry prepared me to roll with the punches and helped me build my confidence. Treating patients and PR has shown me that not every day will be the same and I am never done learning new lessons.