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19 Ways To Advance Your Healthcare Career

19 Ways To Advance Your Healthcare Career
Image by Yerson Retamal via ISO Republic


It can feel easy to slip into a routine and feel like you’re stuck in a rut with your current career. The good news is that you’re not alone, and everyone will go through the stress of feeling like they are stuck at some point or another.

With today’s massive talent shortage in the healthcare industry, you’re also most likely stuck picking up the slack. When you’re picking up the slack of the responsibilities for other open positions, it can feel like a challenge to dedicate time to advancing your career.  Your career will consume a large portion of your adult life, which means that you need to have a clear plan for how your career will develop and evolve over time. Part of that evolution is how you plan on advancing your healthcare career to the next stage.

The good news, is that it only takes a few simple tips and tricks to change your lifestyle habits with incremental changes that pay dividends in the long run. We have outlined 19 ways to advance your healthcare career.


1.  Conduct a Self-Assessment

One of the most important things you can do as a healthcare professional is to conduct a self-assessment. Essentially, self-assessments are an evaluation of where you are professionally and personally.  Self-assessments help you evaluate where you are professionally in terms of your skills, experience, education, position, responsibilities, and more.

When you conduct a self-assessment of your skills you can evaluate whether or not you’re lacking in certain skills that are necessary to have as a healthcare professional. Those skill deficiencies might be due to your education background or training. Conduct a self-assessment to determine whether or not you have the skills you want or need to advance your career to the next stage.

One way to do that is to look at the career that you want to pursue or the next step in your career that you want to achieve, and see where you lack those necessary skills or training.  In addition, a self-assessment of your professional life will be useful in determining whether or not you’re satisfied where you are in your career right now. Are you passionate about your current job? Are you looking to evolve your career? Do you want to transition to a new career in the healthcare industry?

Another important question relates to the skills and talents that you possess. Ultimately, employers and managers want qualified healthcare professionals who provide value to the organization, hospital, healthcare facility, and their patients.  Are there skills or talents that you don’t have, that would help push you into becoming a more well-rounded healthcare professional who can provide more value over time?

Perhaps you have an extensive amount of skills or talents that others don’t have, but you need to ask yourself if there are ways that you can advance those skills or talents to become more proficient.  These are all tough questions that you need to answer, and when you do it provides a little bit more direction as to the next step in advancing your healthcare career.

You also want to conduct a self-assessment of your personal life. You might feel stuck in a rut with your current job because of some of the things that are going on in your personal life. Are there things that distract you when you’re at work that you could eliminate? Perhaps you’ve been in a relationship for a really long time, and it’s just not working out the way you want it to.

When you’re unhappy because you’re fighting with your significant other, that can bleed over into your performance at your job. Conduct a self-assessment of your personal life, and evaluate whether there are imbalances that are affecting your job performance.  Conducting a self-assessment for your professional and personal life will help provide a little bit more clarity on the direction you need to focus your efforts in to successful advance your healthcare career.


2.  Finalize Your Career Mission

One great thing about conducting a self-assessment is that you can evaluate your career mission, and determine whether or not you want to continue pursuing that career mission or if it needs to change into something that you’re more passionate about.  For instance, you might be passionate about providing care to patients as a Registered Nurse, but you now want to become a Nurse Manager or a Nurse Educator to educate the next wave of RN professionals.

When you initially accepted the position you hadn’t even considered the possibility that you wanted to transition your career or advance it to the next stage.  It’s important to figure out what your career mission is. The great thing about your healthcare career is that it will span roughly 20 to 40 years — maybe even longer. If you feel like you need to change what you do in the healthcare industry, you’re not alone. The average person will change their career 5 to 7 times in their lifetime.

Your career mission or career outlook depends on what you want to achieve throughout your career. Are you looking to provide the best patient care you possibly can? Are you looking to evolve the healthcare industry into the next realm of possibilities? Figure out what you want to happen throughout your career, and then pursue it with vigor. When you evaluate what you want to achieve throughout your career as a healthcare professional, you can take note of where you need to develop or change your strategy as a healthcare professional.

When you pursue the possibilities in your career with vigor because you understand how you want your career to play out over the foreseeable future, then you can truly advance your healthcare career to the next stage.


3.  Take Initiative to Lead


Become A Leader - Ways To Advance Your Healthcare Career -
One way to advance your healthcare career and stand out amongst your peers is to take initiative. When you take initiative, you become a leader and others look up to you as a guideline on how healthcare professionals should strive for success and provide the most efficient and effective care in the healthcare industry. Taking initiative and becoming a leader is also a great way to rejuvenate your career. Everyone can approach problems or tasks from a different perspective, and you might have a lot of fantastic ideas about how to approach them with renewed insight.

Another fantastic thing about taking initiative to tackle new challenges is that you can continually step out of your comfort zone. One thing that healthcare professionals can become accustomed to in their career is being comfortable. You go through the same routine, do the same thing day in and day out, and you’re satisfied with that. The problem with being satisfied in that comfort is that it can be rather difficult to advance your healthcare career to the next level.

When you’re comfortable, it can feel like you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be a challenge, but if you’re looking to advance your career and evolve into a more well-rounded healthcare professional — it is necessary and beneficial in the long run. When you take on new initiatives and new tasks, your hard work will be recognized by your superiors and they’ll continually put you in a position to succeed and potentially manager others on teams.

The unique thing about working on teams as a manager as you continually take initiative is that you can learn more about the healthcare industry or find new ways to approach problems with a new perspective. As a leader of those teams that continue to tackle challenges or perform at a high level, your leadership will be commended and you’ll be recognized as one of the catalysts to success.

If you’re worried about taking initiative in your workplace and want to eventually work up to it, you can always start small and gradually increase your leadership efforts. For instance, you don’t have to ask to lead a new team from the get go. Taking initiative can mean mentoring that new hire that was added to the team recently.

You might even want to join a committee as one of the board members or even become a passionate speaker in your field. Another potential opportunity could be through volunteering with nonprofits or community healthcare association efforts. There are a variety of ways that you can contribute to the overall healthcare industry by taking initiative and becoming a leader amongst your peers, so don’t be afraid to explore your options.

Take initiative in tackling new tasks and stepping out of your comfort zone to become a leader amongst your peers and demonstrate that you’re willing to take on new challenges. When you take initiative and become a leader amongst your peers, you’re making a commitment to advancing your career.


4.  Assume a Contractor's Mindset

One way that you might not have considered to be useful in advancing your healthcare career is to assume the mindset of a contractor. Essentially, what this means is that you should look at your career as a contract between your employer and you.

Increasingly, employers and healthcare facilities are seeking the most talented healthcare professionals. Those hospital employers or healthcare employers are looking at talent from a skills and experience perspective and ask themselves, “What can this individual or this job seeker provide our organization in terms of value based on their skills and experience?” When they do this, they are taking a look at your career and examining it as if your resume, experience, skills, and talents are all part of a portfolio that they can review and evaluate.

It used to be that when you were employed by a company or organization, you would work for that company for the foreseeable future and eventually retire. Nowadays, it’s more of a contract job. The company or employer will continually employ you as long as you add value, or until someone comes along that can provide more value than you. This means that you need to approach your employment as a long term contractor, instead of looking at your career as a permanent option. When you assume the mindset of a contractor, your outlook on your employment and career change. It’s harder to get comfortable doing the same thing in and out, and you feel more burdened to continually evolve and grow as a healthcare professional.

It can seem like that is a bad thing, but you have to take a different perspective. When you’re learning new skills and talents, you’re also adding to your portfolio. When you add to your portfolio, you can demonstrate that you provide more value. When you can demonstrate that you provide more value to employers you can ask for more money, ask for that promotion you’re seeking, or find new career opportunities that didn’t exist before from other employers, hospitals, or healthcare facilities that are willing to offer new opportunities to those individuals who are continually advancing their healthcare career.

Assume the mindset of a contractor, and you can take the approach that you need to continually evolve as a healthcare professional and you’ll be satisfied with your career progression over time.


5.  Develop and Use Your Network

Another thing that you want to do to advance your healthcare career is to make sure that you develop your network. We have put together the most comprehensive Networking Guide for you to review when you are attempting to advance your career or secure a new hospital job or healthcare job.

One of the best ways to advance your career is to build and develop your network, as most professional job opportunities come from those you are professionally connected with. You can develop your network through the use of both in-person and online networking opportunities. When you meet and establish professional relationships with others in the healthcare industry you can learn about upcoming promotion opportunities or job opportunities.

When you develop and use your network, you can also gain some insight on how to advance your career from different perspectives. In some cases, the best tips or tricks you can add to your toolbox comes from those individuals who are outside your industry. When you develop your professional relationships in your network, you can lean on them for referrals, mentorships, and support networks.

A solid network of professional connections can provide value to you in any stage of your career, so you should lean on them when you can to help you advance your healthcare career.


6.  Find a Good Mentor


Meet With Your Manager - Ways To Advance Your Healthcare Career -

As we mentioned above when leveraging your network, you should attempt to find a mentor. More experienced professionals are always looking to share their knowledge with others and help guide them on the road to a successful career. Everyone wants to feel like their knowledge and expertise has helped someone else because it makes them feel good.

When you’re building your professional network, take the time to find a mentor who is more than willing to help you out and lean on them when you need career advice. 

Don’t be afraid to ask them for some critical advice when you don’t know exactly what to do. Even when you do think you know what to do, it can be helpful to take a step back and get someone’s opinion on what you should do from an outside perspective.


7.  Continue Your Education

One way to advance your healthcare career is to continue your education or further your education. As we’ve mentioned above, healthcare employers and hospital employers are constantly seeking qualified talent that can bring new skills and new talents to the table. The healthcare industry is constantly asking it’s employees to do more, as the healthcare industry is constantly evolving.

As the healthcare industry constantly evolves, healthcare employees need to be made aware of some of the new industry trends and tricks of the trade. These new tricks and education requirements typically come in the form of continuing education requirements. These CERs are often completed by attending conferences or additional classes on an annual basis. The good news is that your education doesn’t have to stop there.

Over time the role and responsibilities of each healthcare professional changes to meet the changing dynamics of the healthcare industry. This means that education requirements will have evolved over time as well. Going back to school to further your education is always a good idea to stay up to date on current trends and new skills that are required amongst your peers and coworkers.

If you’re looking to earn more money but stay in the same career, more education will also allow you to earn more money. Historically over time more education translates to more lifetime earnings. If you’ve decided that you’d like to make a career change within the healthcare industry but your experience or skills don’t necessarily align with the position that you’d like to hold, then you should go back to school to further your education in the field that you’re interested in.

Going back to school to continue your education is always a good idea to learn more about the field that you’re interested in, enhance the skills that you already have, and learn new skills to bring more value to your employer and add to your portfolio.


8.  Undergo Additional Training

As we’ve mentioned above, increasing your skills and education is always a great idea, but if that’s not a viable option then you should consider receiving additional training in things that are more affordable. Part of the continuing education requirements that we mentioned above that are required by your employer might be additional classes undertaken at your place of employment or outside of your employment. But your education or training shouldn’t stop at seeking ways to complete additional education requirements or earn a new degree. One great way to advance your healthcare career is to learn new skills in topics that you’re passionate about in.

They don’t necessarily have to relate to your career or the industry you’re in, they can be things outside of that. Are you interested in photography or graphic design? Take a class or an online course in the topic and enhance your skill set. There are plenty of opportunities for you to take on-site classes or participate in cross-training classes. The more skills and talents you learn, the more opportunities will ultimately develop and help you advance your healthcare career.

It’s important to remember that you’re looking to constantly add new skills and tools to your professional portfolio, and one way you can do that is to add new skills that you’re passionate about. It’s a little easier to learn new skills and talents when you actually want to learn something, instead of feeling like you have to force yourself through it.


9.  The Little Things Count...

If you feel like you’re stuck in your job, it can feel relatively easy to start slacking off at work or find ways to skip out on doing some of the tedious busy work. The problem with this is that it leads to you developing poor habits. Some of those poor habits might include taking excessive breaks, arriving late, leaving early, coming up with excuses to miss work, and more.

When you’re looking for ways to advance your healthcare career, the first step is to make sure that you do the little things right. Show up on time, leave on time, and make it a priority to make an effort in everything that you do. When you do that, you can separate yourself from those individuals who find ways to just burn through the work day without actually doing the thing they’re getting paid for — work.

Make an effort to do all the little things the right way, and others will notice. When others notice the effort you put in to doing the little things the right way, you will also establish new professional relationships and open up new opportunities.


10.  Get Your Personal Affairs in Order

Another way to advance your healthcare career is to make sure that you get your personal affairs in order. Earlier we mentioned how important it is to make sure that your personal goals and your professional goals are in line with one another. You can’t dedicate time and effort into your career or your career goals when your personal life is causing you to be distracted when you’re working.

If you have something that is keeping you distracted at work and taking away your undivided attention when you’re on the job, then you need to navigate through your personal life until you’re confident that it’s back in order.

Once your personal affairs are in order, then you can focus on your career goals.


11.  Establish Solid & Realistic Career Goals


Goals - Ways To Advance Your Healthcare Career -

The best method to achieving your career missions or career goals is to first establish those goals. After you’ve taken the time to conduct a self-assessment to figure out whether or not you are satisfied with the direction your career is going in, the next step is to establish how you want your career to advance.

One great way to establish how you want your career to advance is to write down everything that you hope to achieve.  If you’re struggling to come up with career goals, write down what you want to be said after you leave your current position. For instance, “Achieved a 20% increase in patient satisfaction.” When you write down what you hope to have achieved after you have left your current position, you can create a career benchmark and compare your current process to that goal.

Your career goals don’t have to be limited to your current position, they should also showcase clear goals that you should attempt to accomplish throughout your career. For instance you might be a Medical Assistant to further your education, you can create a goal along the lines of, “Become a Medical Operations Director for a Hospital”.

When you establish career goals, the next thing that you want to do is set a timeline to accomplish them. When you set a timeline to accomplish your goals, you can hold yourself accountable to those goals. Your career goals don’t have to be focused around positions. Your career goals should also be focused around salary expectations, benefits, and other professional goals.

When you hold yourself accountable to the goals that you’ve established, you’re taken the first step to accomplishing them and advancing your career.


12.  Focus On Achievable Goals

When you’re writing down some of the career goals that you hope to accomplish at the end of the day, it can seem like a requirement to put some arbitrary goals that you’re not truly passionate about.

When you’re writing down the career goals you have in mind when you’re plotting down the ways that you hope to advance your career, focus on the goals that you actually want to achieve. When you eliminate the goals that you could care less about or you aren’t really passionate in, you’re making your other goals more achievable.

For instance, you don’t want to have a long list of career goals if you don’t plan on working towards completing them all. When you have a long list of career goals, you might run the risk of dedicating time and effort into things that don’t pay off in the long run, or don’t help you in achieving new heights in your career.

Focus on the goals that you want to achieve, and you can advance your healthcare career with ease.


13.  Develop a Career Timeline

As we’ve mentioned above, once you establish the goals that you hope to achieve, the next thing that you need to do is to develop a career timeline. Essentially, this means that you break down when you want to accomplish some of your career goals. Your career timeline can change over time, but it also has to be something that you can look back at and determine whether or not you are on the correct path to achieving those career goals.

The key to setting a healthy career timeline to achieve your goals is to make sure that the timeline is reasonable. You shouldn’t set up a career timeline that forces you to complete things in an unrealistic timeline.

When you do that, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. Take the time to establish a clear career timeline that is both realistic and capable of being achieved.


14. Talk to Everyone (yes, even Colleagues) and Find a Mentor

Another great way of making sure that you advance your healthcare career is to take some time to sit down and talk to your manager or boss. How are your employers or managers supposed to know that you have high career aspirations or career goals if you don’t take the time to talk to them and let them know how you feel?

Take the time to reserve some time or set up a meeting to discuss with them what you are hoping to achieve throughout your career. When you do this, the two of you can help brainstorm ways to advance your career. Not to mention, you should look at the opportunity to talk to your manager as a way to gain some insightful advice on the development of your career and your career goals.

Your manager or boss could serve as a mentor, and you should take every opportunity to learn as much as you can from them. They are in their role for a reason, and you should appreciate any advice or tips they can give you to help guide you to achieving the career goals you’ve established in our earlier ways to advance your healthcare career. On the odd chance that you are talking with your manager or boss and they indicate that your career goals might not be able to be accomplished in your current position, you should talk with them and explore your options.

The unique thing about advancing your healthcare career is that it isn’t always going to be a linear path. In fact, the more likely scenario is that it’s going to take several career changes, employment changes, or position changes before you can accomplish your career goals. If your employer or manager indicates that it doesn’t seem like a realistic fit for you and the organization or that your career goals and their employee outlook doesn’t align, then it’s completely acceptable for you to take a step back and evaluate whether or not you should consider working for them in the future.

When you talk with your manager or boss, you can make sure that you’re both committed to advancing your healthcare career and becoming a more well-rounded professional that can provide more value. If the partnership doesn’t seem like it aligns, then use the contractor mindset we mentioned earlier and look for new opportunities where the employer is as committed to you as you are to them.


15.  Learn Negotiation Skills

One thing to take advantage of when you’re meeting with your boss or manager is to negotiate how they can help you with achieving your career goals and advancing your healthcare career.

For instance, you might find that you work better under different circumstances like flexible work hours. Over the course of your meeting with your manager or boss, you should explore potential options that would allow you to accomplish your career goals, advance your healthcare career to the next level, and also provide more value to your employer.

It’s important to remember that when you are negotiating with your employer or manager, you should constantly bring up how you will be able to provide more value to them. As we’ve mentioned in the past, your employer will be willing to help you out if you demonstrate that you will be able to provide more value for them and the organization.


16.  Request Constructive Feedback


Get Feedback - Ways To Advance Your Healthcare Career -

If your discussion or meeting with your boss / manager does go well, then one of the things that you should seek is any feedback they can provide. Listen for any feedback related to job performance, skills that you should work towards earning, and more.

When you gain feedback, you can look at how you’ve performed in the past from an outside perspective and take their feedback and apply it to the future. Some feedback will come in the form of the quarterly, semi-annually, or annual employee evaluations your manager or boss does for you. In addition, you should take the time to seek feedback on some of your career goals and your career goal timeline with your boss / manager to get their opinion on what they think you should consider.

Perhaps you’ve set some lofty goals for yourself, and their experience will recommend that you lower the lofty goals a bit. Your manager or boss might even recommend a few career goals that they are confident you can accomplish, when you hadn’t even considered them before. 
The feedback you receive doesn’t have to strictly come from your employer or manager, it can also come from some of your closest friends, industry connections, and coworkers. 

Your coworkers, friends, and industry peers can help provide some insight into asking critical questions about why you want to accomplish certain goals, how you’re going to go about doing them, and more. Don’t hesitate to seek feedback from others when you’re starting to advance your healthcare career, as others might have some helpful tips and tricks to speed up the process of achieving those goals.

Getting feedback on your career goals and your career timeline will help you receive an outside perspective on ways you can advance your healthcare career.


17.  Go With Your Gut Instinct

You should remember that advancing your career isn’t always going to be easy. You’re going to have to make some tough career decisions and make difficult decisions on what to do every now and then.  If you’re currently employed and you just don’t feel like this is the right stop for you or you feel like you need to explore your options, you should trust in your gut and start exploring your options.

The last thing you want is to accept a new job that you were initially hesitant about, and then realize a couple months later that you should have trusted your gut and continued to seek other employment options.  If you’re unhappy, it will contribute to feeling down in your personal life, and then your professional work ethic will ultimately suffer because of it.

Trust your gut when making some difficult career decisions and you’ll already be a step ahead when attempting to advance your healthcare career.


18.  Take Career Risks

Part of trusting your gut also involves taking some career risks. Part of advancing your healthcare career means that you’re not going to find every opportunity with ease. In addition, those opportunities or advancements won’t always be given to you. You have to seize the opportunity and the responsibility for advancing your own career, because nobody else is going to do it for you.

You shouldn’t waste valuable time waiting for things to happen to you or your career. As the proverbial phrase goes, “Sometimes you have to grab the bull by the horns and take charge.”

The best way to grab the bulls by the horns and take charge, is to use the career goals and career timeline you’ve established. When you use the career goals that you’ve established and use the career timeline to hold yourself accountable when you’re attempting to advance your healthcare career.


19.  A Little Goes a Long Way

The last but certainly not least way to advance your healthcare career is to remember that a little bit goes a long way. You don’t have to implement mass changes to your professional career in one day. The key to starting on the pathway to advancing your healthcare career is to implement subtle changes over a period of time.

When you implement subtle changes towards advancing your healthcare career over a period of time, those changes don’t feel so drastic and it’s easier to hold yourself accountable towards achieving those goals.


Final Conclusion

When you’re stuck in the comfort zone of your career, it can be stressful to even think about working to advance your healthcare career. You might even find that advancing your healthcare career provokes some fear from the unknown. The good news is that there is nothing to fear, and that you can find ways to advance your career in the sometimes stressful healthcare industry.

All it takes is a commitment to implementing subtle changes in your lifestyle to take the small steps to gradually working towards advancing your healthcare career.

When you use the 19 ways we mentioned above, you can make the career goals a little bit easier and accomplish them within a reasonable timeline.


Advance your career. Change your life.