8 Top Tips to Make the Most of Your Health Career

Your career is obviously an important part of your life. You spend so much of your time working, of course you want to make it the best you possibly can! Whether you just started a new position, or you've been working the same job for years, these simple tips can help your health career rise to the next level.

1. Ask Yourself: Is This Really the Right Job for Me?

We choose our work based on a number of factors: perhaps we were drawn to the field as a child, or we received a scholarship in college, or perhaps our parents influenced us towards a particular career path. Whatever the case may be, it's very important for you to take a good, hard look at yourself, and ask yourself honestly: is this the work I want to be doing? If the answer is "yes," congratulations! Advancement and success will surely come to you with some focused effort. If the answer is "no," you may want to consider a change. If you don't enjoy your work, it will be difficult for you to excel in it, and you'll likely find yourself frustrated and unhappy.

It's a tricky issue, of course. If you're unhappy, it may simply be the result of your specific employer, not necessarily the job. Assess yourself and your situation as accurately as you can. As an example, if you're a medical assistant and feel bored and stagnant in your work, you may want to go back to school and pursue a position as a registered nurse or another position in allied healthcare. Conversely, if you manage a whole team of nurses and feel stressed, overburdened, and unhappy, you may want to let go of your extra responsibility and return to simply nursing, if the option is available. Make your happiness at work a priority: it's the best way to ensure success.

2. Make Sure Your Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV) is Up to Date

Regardless of how long you've been working in your current position, you'll want to have a streamlined, up-to-date resume ready at all times. Opportunities present themselves at unexpected times, and an exciting new door may open for you when you least expect it. When it does, you'll be ready to take advantage!

Even the most secure jobs can change in the blink of an eye. A change of management can turn a dream job into a nightmare almost instantly. Furthermore, with today's economy the healthcare industry is seeing its fair share of layoffs and reorganizations. Taking the time to update your CV will give you peace of mind, and will give you a big advantage if and when change comes to your work situation.

3. Become a Member of a Professional Healthcare Association

Professional Healthcare Associations are great ways to stay informed about emerging trends and issues affecting your industry. There are many associations out there, and it's best to join one specific to the role you perform at work. These associations are educational, motivating, and provide valuable networking opportunities. Professionals can be members of more than one association at a time. For instance, doctors are often members of the American Medical Association, as well as the association specific to his or her specialization. Stay connected, stay informed, make valuable contacts which could lead to opportunities: join a professional healthcare association!

4. Network, Network, Network!

The vast majority of all jobs--over 75%--are found through networking. The contacts in your professional network could become important recommendations, or could even offer you an exciting new position directly. You never know where opportunity will come from, so it's important to connect with as many professionals as possible, and to always present yourself as the kind, helpful, reliable professional you know you can be. Many of the other tips on this list (such as mentoring and professional associations) are forms of networking in themselves. Keep present, and keep connected!

5. Use Social Media to Engage with Your Peers and Community

Social media is a necessary professional resource these days. Social media is not only a great tool for networking, it's also an excellent source for news and education. You can hear about new job openings on social media, and can stay up-to-date on the latest issues and trends affecting the medical industry. Maintaining an online presence via social media can put you in the path of opportunity and valuable information.

6. Choose a Healthcare Recruiter to Partner With

A recruiters job is to find you employment opportunities which fit your personal career goals. Working with a recruiter can be a big advantage. Reputable recruiters are totally confidential, which means that they will help you find new opportunities without endangering your current job situation. It can be very difficult to search for a new job while spending all day working another job. A recruiter solves this problem: they will advance your career search for you, so you can focus on doing a good job in your current position. You won't be obligated to change jobs if a new position opens up, but it's good to stay informed in case you do want to make a change.

7. Ask Yourself: What Are My Health Career Goals?

Of course, goals help us stay on track towards the careers we want, but not all goals are created equal. Furthermore, goals that were highly appealing to you years ago may not be in your best interest anymore. If your goal is large and long-term (earning a Master's degree, for example), you may need to break it up into smaller, more manageable goals, to avoid becoming overwhelmed and frustrated. If your goal is causing you nothing but stress and misery, you may need to reassess the goal itself. Remember: there are often several solutions to any given problem. Make sure you're not fixated on one particular strategy to the exclusion of another that may serve you even better.

8. Find a Mentor, or Become a Mentor

Mentors are priceless assets on your career path. They may be a co-worker who has many years of experience, or they may work in another healthcare sector entirely. Mentors are great contacts, because they can teach you many things you can't learn in school, they can connect you with valuable professional contacts, and they can help you solve problems which you can't solve yourself.

From the other perspective, becoming a mentor can be a highly rewarding practice as well. If you're a tenured healthcare professional, becoming a mentor can reinvigorate your interest in your field, and can keep you connected with the leading edge of the industry's developments. It's also simply rewarding to help someone who is just starting out down the path you started down long ago!

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