Personal Habits That Could Kill Your Health Career

You have the degree. You have the right license and certification. You have all the right acronyms and initials after your name to qualify you for the job. However, your professional and educational attributes may not be enough to get you the job. Most hospitals hold their employees to exceptionally high standards, including personal background, and personal health.

As a healthcare worker, you deal with sensitive information, personal health records, narcotic drugs, expensive equipment, and your actions can directly affect the lives of others. One mistake on your part can cost a life. Therefore, hospitals need to ensure that not only are you qualified from a professional standpoint, you have the personal integrity to work in a role that requires you to handle sensitive issues. If you want to work in a hospital, you will need to have a clean background and show that you have no bad personal habits or issues. Below are five personal issues that could cost you the job.



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Did you know that more and more hospitals are banning smokers from hospital employment? The trend is growing, and soon it may be impossible to get hired by a hospital if you are a smoker. The good news is that there are so many great products and programs on the market to help you quit ​smoking if you are currently a smoker. Additionally, smoking has been linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke, and numerous other health issues. Quitting smoking could not only help you get hired, it could also help you add years to your life. Quit for your career and for your health!


Criminal Activity

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Background checks are standard for most healthcare employers. Typically, the higher level position for which you apply, the less tolerant the employer will be of any criminal background issues. Different employers have different policies as to what will be allowable in one's background, including the statute of limitations, severity of the crime committed, and number of transgressions.

Some employers may forbid any criminal history, whereas others may be tolerant of a misdemeanor, or even a felony if it is far enough in the past, beyond a pre-determined number of years ago. Typically there is a place on the job application form to indicate if you have EVER been arrested for ANY crime (misdemeanor or felony). Some ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Be sure to answer truthfully, even if the truth is that you have a criminal background. If you are caught lying, you will be excluded from consideration. If you manage to lie your way into a job, and your lie is caught later, you will most likely be terminated from employment.


Substance Abuse

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Depending on the healthcare profession you wish to seek, a substance abuse problem can prohibit your employment. Physicians, for example, can lose their DEA number, which allows them to prescribe narcotics to patients. Without an active DEA number, physicians cannot fully treat their patients. Additionally, CRNAs, NPs, and PAs also prescribe or administer drugs that can be lethal if not prescribed or administer properly. Therefore, a history of substance abuse can be prohibitive to these careers as well.


Negative Online Image or Over-sharing via Social Media

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Are you a social media junkie? Social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can be great resources for job search and career advancement, especially in the healthcare field. However, if used improperly, social media can hurt, more than help, your career. There have been several cases of healthcare workers, and even medical students, who have been dismissed from school or work due to sharing sensitive or personal information online about patients. Also, posting any content that could be considered offensive, may put prospective healthcare workers at risk of being passed over for a dream job in healthcare, or cause current healthcare professionals to be terminated from employment.


Personal Appearance (Tattoos, Piercings, Overweight, etc.)

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Even your personal appearance and weight could be a factor in your employment by a healthcare employer. In addition to weight issues, some employers prohibit piercings, tattoos, fake fingernails, or certain hairstyles, for example. Some of the rules are based on sanitary issues, others are based on patient safety, while some are based on your ability to perform your job duties effectively and safely.

As of 2012, only one hospital in the U.S. openly admits to having an official weight policy for new hires. The hospital, located in Texas, has imposed caps on all prospective employees' BMI (body mass index).

Additionally, some healthcare jobs may require heavy lifting or maneuvering of patients or heavy equipment, standing for long periods of time, and other physically challenging tasks. Therefore, even if your employer doesn't have a weight limit hiring policy, being overweight or out of shape could, in some cases, prevent you from fulfilling all of the physical aspects of your job, in which case you would not be eligible for employment.​

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