Transitioning from college to career, these tips can help you evaluate opportunities coming your way.
At this point, you probably already accepted a job for your clinical fellowship or have whittled down to your favorite few. Regardless, these next few years are like dating. You’re young, single and looking for the ideal career path to settle down with. As you evaluate these paths, try looking at them through three different lenses: setting, lifestyle and finances.
Setting—Would you rather work with adults or pediatric? Do you prefer a laid back environment or something a bit more fast paced? Do opportunities to move up into management interest you? Do you want to study possible innovations in treatment or use these evidence-based practices in clinical settings? It’s very possible you have a strong opinion on this lens already, but don’t be surprised if that changes after your first job or two. By the way, it’s totally fine if it does!
Lifestyle—Certain job settings provide more flexibility and work-life balance than others do. If you love taking off on long travel adventures, two straight summer months free in most school positions might tempt you. Do you want to treat adults of all ages and work with other medical professionals? Sounds like a hospital setting to me. Perhaps improving quality of life for older patients in a skilled nursing facility appeals most. And one unique option available to the wanderlust-infected practitioner involves working as a travel clinician. Particularly for those new in their career and unsure of what they want, a travel clinician opening generates an easy way to experience different settings.
Finances—Your first big financial issue usually involves student loans. Remember the scene in “The Matrix” where the oracle points to the Latin sign that translates to “know thyself”? Turns out it applies to sci-fi saviors and student loans. You can’t properly evaluate your financial situation without knowing the details of your debt. Start with your loan types and balances. If you want to pursue loan forgiveness, a non-profit or government setting becomes a must, at least for the next five to 10 years. These are the loan types that qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness program:
- All Direct Federal Loans, including subsidized, unsubsidized, undergraduate and graduate loans.
- Federal Family Educaiton loan (FFEL) and Perkins Loans if they’ve been consolidated into a Consolidated Loan.
Roughly the same rules apply to teacher-specific programs, except that Stafford Loans, part of the FFEL program, do not have to be consolidated for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.
Be wary of consolidation. There are times it makes sense to do it, but often it’s unnecessary and can actually cost you more. For example, if you try consolidating loans that don’t qualify for forgiveness with ones that do, the whole consolidated loan becomes disqualified.
As for non-student loan financial considerations, total income looms the largest. If broken down by an hourly basis, there’s often not a large difference between the pay of school-based and healthcare-based professionals. However, a hospital-based practitioner usually works more days of the year, so their total annual income will generally be higher. That said, don’t fret if you prefer the school side of things. Working a summer camp or taking on a few private students can often make up the difference.
Ideally, you’ll find a position offering some of your desired characteristics from all three of these lenses. It might not happen right from the start, however, which is fine. Just because you went out on a couple dates with a certain work setting doesn’t mean you have to marry it.
Jacob W. Parish, a certified financial planner™ professional, focuses on helping audiologists, SLPs and other young healthcare professionals navigate financial planning issues. Visit his website, Schooner NextGen or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Securities and Advisory services offered through Geneos Wealth Management, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC