It’s thrilling for parents to see their teen’s light up when they imagine their future careers, and your teen might be interested in a caregiving profession. Whether you work in the caretaking industry or not, it’s important that you research how your teen can get involved with the various occupations that might appeal to them. Your support can help your teen decide if caregiving is the right industry for them, or how they can use their talents to make the biggest impact. Here are some tips to help inspire your teen to learn more, and hopefully take the next step to accomplishing their dreams.
Visit a Career Fair
Traveling to a career fair hosted as a college, conference center, or healthcare facility is a great way for your teen to meet professionals and ask questions. We recommend that your teen interacts with nursing students, facility administrators, hospital directors, hiring managers, caretakers, hospice workers, and more. This is critical for teens because at this age they have a cognitive bias to only consider a few options. There are probably dozens of jobs in this industry that your teen has never heard of, so meeting as many people as possible might help your teen find a specific occupation they really connect with. From there, your teen can ask appropriate questions, such as what education and experience is best for becoming a nurse, or a hospice worker, or a hospital director. Plus, you might even find someone who can write a recommendation for your teen when they apply to a new and exciting program.
Tour Healthcare Facilities
A lot of hospitals and nursing homes offer regular tours, which can be very inspirational for your teen. It would give your teen firsthand exposure to the daily ins and outs of different caretaking and healthcare facilities, which can help inform your teen’s decision to get involved. These tours might show your teen that the social environments or personalities of different facilities can vary, demonstrating the importance of finding a location where your teen feels comfortable. This is also a chance for your teen to see which environments don’t feel like a good match, so they can rule out certain occupations. Maybe caretaking for the elderly isn’t up their ally, but your teen really felt a connection at their local children’s hospital. These experiences are crucial in helping your teen get excited about their future career options.
Explore Nursing Schools
To learn more about the educational requirements of a future in nursing or caretaking, we suggest you take your teen to a few different schools. This way, your teen can interact with students closer to your teen’s age and ask them about their experience. This is also a great way for your teen to plan out what classes and programs they might want to take in high school to become a better candidate when applying to college. There are also a lot of inspirational books that teens can read outside of the classroom to help them accomplish their goals. The admissions offices at these schools can also provide informational resources to your teen and teach them about the different majors and degrees offered at different schools. Seeing what it takes to make it in a nursing or pre-medical program might inspire your teen to work even harder in high school to be successful and get into a program they have their eyes set on.
Find Volunteer Opportunities
The healthcare industry is always looking for volunteers, which is an opportunity for your teen to find different opportunities that they enjoy. We recommend that you and your teen do some research together to find out where your teen can volunteer their time helping at a hospital, hospice center, or nursing home. Being able to assist with the work at these facilities might make your teen feel really good, and that they are making a difference in the lives of others through their time and effort in this industry. They might also find that certain career paths might seem appealing, but aren’t as enjoyable as your teen imagined. Either way, your teen will have useful experiences that can help them identify what job might be the most rewarding and fun for them to pursue.
Encourage A Conversation with Their Doctors
Another way to inspire your teen to follow their passion of working in caregiving or related fields, is to encourage them to speak with their primary care provider or other doctors. It might be the case that your teen has been seeing the same doctor for years, so your teen would have a trusted resource to reach out to. Maybe when your teen goes in for their next appointment, they can ask their doctor about their experience working in the healthcare industry and about the variety of different roles required to make a healthcare facility function. Having a close, trusted doctor provide insight could be very inspiring for your teen to continue to research a path in caregiving or medicine.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.
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