Parents’ checklist: choosing a career

Choosing the right career is a difficult decision - even for healthy people. People with a congenital heart defect need to take a lot of different things into consideration. Here are some issues that might be important when you´re talking to your son or daughter and the reasons you should discuss career plans with the cardiologist.

Points to consider before choosing a career:

  • Encourage your child to learn as much as possible about his or her heart defect. Doing so will improve the quality of their (working) life and their long term health prospects.
  • Your child should choose a vocational field he or she is interested in, so, try to find out together what sort of work your daughter or your son feels drawn to. Professional careers advice can be helpful, and a range of books and websites can help your child focus on what is most important and motivating to him or her.
  • The higher a person’s educational level, the better their chance of continuing to work throughout life. This is especially true for people with congenital heart defects.
  • Try to build a set of transferable skills through paid or volunteer work, hobbies, sports, or other life experiences that you can take with you from one job or career to another.
  • Avoid heavy physical jobs and work that is highly stressful because of the strain they place on the heart.
  • Some careers (for example, pilots and other specialised military careers) are out of the question, even with a simple, corrected heart defect.
  • Some diagnoses can prevent you from getting a license to drive taxis or heavy vehicles.
  • If your child tends to faint or collapse because of their heart defect, s/he should choose a job where there is limited risk of injuring himself/herself or others.

Why discuss career and education with a cardiologist?

A clear understanding of how best to manage their own health and work around any medical limitations will enable your child to reach their potential. The cardiologist will be able to explain about aspects of work to avoid and, most importantly, to help your child think about how to get as near as possible to cherished goals.