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How You Can Improve Your Healthcare Career

by Louise W. Rice
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When it comes to your healthcare career, you are the only one who controls it. This means you need to work hard at your career and improve it in any way you can whenever you can. Any opportunities that arise are yours for the taking, but spotting those opportunities and taking those chances isn’t always easy. Read on to discover how best to make your healthcare career, whether you’re a doctor, a nurse, a surgeon, or any other kind of healthcare provider, the best it can possibly be.

Set Small Goals and Update Them Regularly

Having one main aim in your healthcare career is partly good and partly bad. It’s good because it’s vital to have an end goal in mind, the place you want to eventually get to in your career and even in your life. However, it’s bad because having just one large goal is going to feel extremely daunting. It’s going to potentially even mean that that goal, whatever it might be, is much harder to achieve because although you know what it is, you don’t know how to get there or what choices to make to keep you on the right track.

It’s far better to look at your ultimate goal and work backward to the place you are now, breaking down each step of the ladder into smaller goals that you will be able to achieve much more easily. There will be many different steps between your starting point and your endpoint, and if you know what each of those steps is, you can achieve them all in order without any stress.

Of course, once you have created your list of steps to get you to your goal, you’ll need to update that list regularly. It might be that you have achieved some elements before others, or perhaps you have realized that you want a different end result. By checking your progress regularly, you can ensure that you will always be able to make good choices and reach whatever goal it is you want to reach.

Stretch Yourself

The road to success isn’t necessarily going to be an easy one, and it might be that you need to stretch yourself and leave your comfort zone once in a while to achieve what you want and need to achieve. However, don’t let this hold you back. On the contrary, by doing something new, even something that scares you a little, you are learning and experiencing more than you ever would if you stuck to your tried-and-tested knowledge and experience.

Whatever it is that you don’t currently feel you are capable of or good at, you need to progress your career in healthcare, and this is where you need to focus your efforts. For example, it might be that you don’t like giving your opinion, but to be a leader, you need to do just that – in that case, you might ask to give a talk to your colleagues, or perhaps offer to guest post on someone’s healthcare blog. The more you do the things you are afraid of, or think you’re no good at, the less concerning they will be, and the more you can progress through your list of small steps to reach your ultimate goal.

Get Feedback

It’s great to have a good idea of where your own strengths and weaknesses are. If you know this, you can improve your strengths and work on your weaknesses so that they don’t hold you back. However, it’s hard to be entirely objective when it comes to yourself; many times, we’ll either be too lenient or too critical and never quite accurate.

This is why it’s crucial to get feedback when you want to improve your healthcare career. Hearing what others think about your skills and knowledge, or what they suggest you need to do to make any necessary changes, is extremely helpful. In addition, you will be able to use that feedback to ensure you are enhancing the right areas of your learning and personality.

It can be difficult to take feedback on board if it’s not something you wanted to hear. Perhaps you think you’re great at communicating, but your colleagues suggest this is something you need to work on. Don’t get upset and ignore the advice; knowing yourself is much more difficult than knowing other people, and that feedback could be exactly right. Think about what you are being told, and don’t get angry if it’s unpleasant; consider how true it is and do something about it if you feel that is the right course of action.

Take on Additional Learning

The more knowledge you have, the further along in your healthcare career you can get. Although a lot of your learning and experience can be gained through your work, there is always more to learn. Therefore, if you apply for another qualification or a degree that will enhance your current knowledge, just like online FNP programs will help you to do, you will not only have that knowledge, but you will also have another qualification to add to your resume.

When you are looking for ways to enhance and improve your career, new jobs and promotions have to be part of your plan – otherwise, you will stay in the same place doing the same things for the rest of your working life. So by gaining additional qualifications and accreditations, you can show that you are dedicated to your work and keen to make improvements. This by itself will be something any boss will be happy to see, and the fact that these improvements will also give you new skills is also an excellent reason to take them on.

Online degrees are an ideal choice since they can be done in your own time at your own pace. You won’t have to give up any time working on your career or make any sacrifices regarding time spent with your family – you can do it all (although do bear in mind that your learning won’t be easy, and you will have to work hard to get the results you want).

Make a Note of Your Work

If you want to improve within your healthcare career, you need to see where you are and how far you’ve come. This is not as simple as re-reading old reports or looking at emails that you received from happy suppliers in the healthcare sector. You are dealing with people’s health, and when you are busy, it can be hard to remember exactly what you did and how you were able to help people.

With this in mind, it can be a good idea to make notes of your work. Of course, you don’t have to write down any personal details about your patients (and it’s better not to because of privacy laws; you don’t want to run the risk of falling foul of the law and potentially damaging your career when you were trying to improve it), but you can write down anything that you did that you feel merits a mention.

When you look back at these notes, you can see how far you have come and where you have improved. If you’re still making the same errors or feeling anxious about the same things, you’ll know exactly the areas you still have to work on to improve.

Not only will making these notes help you internally with your own strengths and weaknesses, but they will help you when it comes to an interview or a workplace review because you’ll have all the evidence you need to answer any questions that are posed to you. In this way, you can shine when your employer or potential employer talks about the things you’ve done and why you might be most suited to the promotion or new job you are applying for

Be Curious

We’ve already spoken about how additional learning can help you (and your patients) in a wide variety of different ways when it comes to improving your medical or healthcare career. Yet, you don’t have to go back to school or take any official qualifications to continue to learn; a sense of curiosity is really all it takes.

If you are curious about discovering more about the sector you’re working in, you can attend conferences, watch online videos made by professionals, read articles and books, and more. Try to find out as much as you can about the area in which you work, and you’ll find you grow to understand it much more, and you can use those new skills to your advantage in the workplace.

It might not be the same as having a degree or other qualification. However, not everyone is comfortable with formal learning, and it will still show the people working with you and for whom you are working that you have an interest in the industry and are keen to know more.

Network

One of the very best things you can do to improve your healthcare career is to network. This is not only open to businessmen and women – it’s something everyone, no matter what kind of career or industry they are working in, can benefit from.

It can all begin quite easily online. LinkedIn is set up specifically for people to the network through, and by reaching out to others within your industry, you can easily create a vast network of peers and professionals. The key to having a good network is not to send out standard LinkedIn invitations. Instead, tailor each one to the individual you are hoping to connect with. In this way, they will know that you have chosen them specifically and will be much more inclined to accept your invitation.

Don’t just use networking to find people who can help you, however. You have plenty of experience that other people are going to want to learn from. Networking should always be a form of giving and take, and once you have this balance in place, you can do well from it.

It’s not just LinkedIn that can help you either. There are all kinds of local, national, and online events that are either specifically set up for networking or could be used to improve your network. So always be on the lookout for such events as they could make a big difference to your career, and you can show that you’re an expert in your sector, too.

Get a Mentor

Having a mentor to help you is one step further along the path to improving your career in healthcare than networking would be. A mentor can provide you with objective and helpful feedback, and they can also help you use that feedback most successfully.

A mentor will also help you to stay away from mistakes that they themselves may have made in the past, or that they are aware can be highly problematic for people in your industry. You don’t necessarily have to find a mentor who has worked or is working in the healthcare industry. If you want to be a manager, for example, you can find a mentor who specializes in management, since the healthcare element will already be covered by your learning and qualifications, as well as the experience you gather when you’re working.

On the opposite side of this idea, you could become a mentor yourself. The ability to teach and guide others can be of great benefit to you in your career and even in your life in general. The fact that your mentee is likely to have qualified as a doctor, nurse, or whatever other healthcare profession you are working in later than you means that they will have learned the most up to date techniques, so as well as helping them, they may be able to teach you something. Mentoring and networking are based on give-and-take relationships, or they should be, and they can do you a lot of good when used in the right way.

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