The Things I Wish I Knew Before Working in a Hospital

Updated on December 16, 2021

Leave aside the technical side of working in a hospital, or even the qualifications and training it takes to get there. Let’s discuss the physical, emotional, and practical side of working in a hospital. There are several elements that I wish I had known before starting work there. I am not referencing the various myths and misconceptions about working in healthcare; this article is about the personal grounded experience you are likely to undertake when you start working in the medical industry as a whole, and especially when you work in a hospital.

It Can Be Likened to Factory Work

This sort of revelation is probably very common in the real working world, especially when you consider how many working roles are romanticised by TV and movies. You see waitresses with perfect hair and garage workers with rippling muscles. You see medical shows with doctors making dynamic decisions and nurses stepping in to stop the bleeding and save the day. The odd part is that things like this happen, but for the most part your day is pretty predictable. In fact, your usual working day is so routine and regimented that it is like working in a factory. You do the same things over and over again to larger or lesser degrees.

There is no defining factory role, but some feel more factory-like than others. Working in the labs feels very much like working in a very clean factory. Many elements of nursing feel like factory work because the same tasks need doing every day without deviation. Even making the morning rounds as doctors and consultants and working on paperless work in the evenings feels like a combination of factory work and schoolwork. Where the medical industry as a whole is a great place to work, it isn’t anything like what you see on TV or in movies. The exciting high-octane things “Do” happen, but for the most part, it is pretty much an unchanging routine. 

You Become an Actor if You Wish to Be Good at Your Job

Perhaps I am stating this one a little too poetically, but it relates to how it is very difficult to have a bad day when you work in the medical profession. It is a similar problem that firefighters and police officers face. The notion that you may enter work in a bad mood and stay that way all day is very frowned upon by the general public, and it is unprofessional as a whole.

Since it is childish to inflict your bad mood on other people, you have to become somewhat of an actor. It is similar to putting a brave face on things but extends a little further into your working life. For example, in a fast food restaurant, you take the order, you smile, you say thank you and that is the extent of your interaction. 

In the medical profession, every member of the team, even including the cleaning staff, is going to be exposed to the general public for extended periods of time. You will see the same people over and over again, and it is your job to maintain your professionalism. You may be worried because your dog is sick and you are sure your spouse is at home cheating on you right now, but you cannot let it show, you have to stay professional.

If you do not wish to be good at your job, then you can speak very little, you can be impersonal, you can be uncaring, and you can limit your interactions with other people as much as possible. However, if this is your goal or even your default position, then why pick a career in the medical industry at all when there are hundreds of thousands of other jobs where interpersonal relationships are not important?

You Will Take Your Emotional Baggage Home

This is a tricky one to explain. You often see in movies and on TV shows how people are able to “Leave it in the workplace.” It is based on the premise that you are going to see bad and upsetting things while working in a hospital. You have to learn how to leave your emotions surrounding it at the workplace so that you may function throughout the rest of your days and your home life.

However, this notion of leaving it in the workplace is pure Hollywood fiction. It was created by people who have never done a day’s work in their life not to mention ever working in the medical industry. You do not leave it at work. There are things that will affect you when you are at home, and there are things that will probably stick with you for the rest of your life.

The things you see will never become less painful or jarring. You do not heal your emotional wounds with time, “You Simply Become Better At Handling Them.” This is probably the most defining feature of people who work in the medical industry and I imagine for people who work as medics for the military. You do not become numb to what you see and you don’t leave it at the workplace. 

You do lose sleep, it does change you, and you do have to live with what you experience, but over time you become better at tolerating it. You learn how to handle the emotional burden a little better, and if you don’t, then you fall into depression, self-destruction, and typically you fall out of the profession. That is not to paint medical workers as heroes or monsters, it is simply to highlight that if you think you can walk into the medical profession without being influenced or affected by it, then you are in for a rude awakening when you finally have the qualifications you need so that you may work in a hospital.

Should I Work in the Medical Industry or a Hospital?

As a way to obfuscate some of the negative elements that have been brought up in this article, I should go on to say how working in a hospital is rewarding and how the career is a safe and reliable one. However, it is important that you understand that the things mentioned in this article “Are Not Negative.” The fact is that a career in a hospital is not a career for everybody. There are some people who will not like it and there are some people who are simply not suited for it. This is not a medical-only problem, the same could be said for everything from prison guards to childcare professionals. 

As an online journalist said in this healthcare piece, “A healthcare job is challenging, and rewarding, depressing and enlightening, but it is rarely boring.” And those contradictions are what lead to the issue being raised in this article. The point of this article is to remove the rose-tinted shades that the modern media has set up about working in a hospital. If you have read this article and still want a career in the medical and healing industry, then you can rest safe in the knowledge that you have a fair idea of what to expect. It allows you to make a grown-up, mature, level-headed decision about a career that could become a very dominant part of your life.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.