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8 Top Tips to Make the Most of Your Health Career

Even the Happily Employed May Benefit from these Career Improvement Ideas!

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Looking for a way to step up your career in the medical field? Is your career in need of the proverbial "shot in the arm"? There are many ways to get the most out of your career, whether you have worked in the same job for years, or have just started a new gig this week. Nurture your career with these simple ideas. The most important thing is to make sure you're in the right career, and success will follow!

Regardless of your employment status, try these ideas for professional success!

1. Love Your Job, or Find a New One

Depending upon your current role and employment status, you may or may not be able to consider a job change. If possible, before you further develop or advance your career, be sure you're in the right one! If you are struggling at work, or just plain miserable, perhaps it is time to move on. You need to determine if your stress is based on your role itself, or your employer. For example, if you currently work as a medical assistant, and you need more of a challenge, you may consider obtaining additional degrees or certifications to become a nurse, or get an associates degree for a more lucrative position in allied healthcare. If you are a Nurse Manager, and you're feeling overwhelmed, perhaps you should relinquish your management role and focus on nursing solely, if possible. Be sure that healthcare is even the right industry for you!

2. Update Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume'

Whether you've been in your current job for 10 years, or 10 days, always have your CV updated and ready to submit at any time. Why? Because you never know what tomorrow may bring. Even if you're in a high-demand, secure healthcare job, you still need to stay on your toes with your CV at the ready. For instance, your favorite boss could resign tomorrow, and your dream job could turn to a nightmare overnight! Plus, layoffs and reorganizations are at an all-time high in the healthcare industry in 2010, and will most likely continue into 2011. Furthermore, even if you love your job, an even better job opportunity could present itself; who knows? So dust off that resume'. You will be glad you did when that opportunity comes knocking. And obviously for those of you who are active job seekers, a quality CV is a must.

3. Join a Professional Healthcare Association

What better way to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in your profession than to join the professional association which is specific to the role you are in? If you are already a member of a professional association, good for you! And there may be another association for you to join, to maximize your professional development. For example, a nurse could be a member of the American Nursing Association as well as the Association of Nurse Practitioners. A doctor could be a member of the American Medical Association, and the national association for the medical specialty he or she practices. Professional associations will not only inform you, they also provide networking opportunities and job listings.

4. Always Be Networking!

Networking is one of the best ways to advance your career organically, regardless of your current situation. The great thing about networking is, it is super easy to work into your regular daily life and activities. For example, many other items on this list of resolutions involve other people (professional associations, mentoring, to name a few,) and therefore they are also forms of networking, which could open up doors you never knew existed!

5. Engage Via Social Media

Social media can be a very important career resource. Not only can you learn about medical job openings via social media, you can network with other healthcare professionals, stay current on industry news, learn about companies that are hiring, and sell yourself as a potential employee by promoting your professional brand and online presence.

6. Identify and Partner with a Reputable Healthcare Recruiter

Knowing one or two strong recruiters who are experienced in the medical field can be a huge advantage. Good recruiters work confidentially, so you can share your professional goals with them and they can help you without jeopardizing your current job. Therefore, the recruiter can be on the lookout and keep you posted on any potentially suitable career advancement opportunities, so you can focus on performing your current job well, which in turn increases your value. Being informed of career opportunities in your field does not necessarily mean you have to act on them, but at least you'll know what's out there, in case a better opportunity comes along at a time when it makes sense for you to consider a new job.

7. Evaluate Your Health Career Goals

As the healthcare industry continues to change drastically in the wake of the recession and health reform, your career goals may need tweaking as well. For example, if you have been working towards that Associates Degree in Medical Technology, or Masters of Science in Nursing, but cannot quite get to the finish line, (or across the starting line) why not set some smaller, more manageable goals or checkpoints to help to get you there? Or if you are not making any progress towards your goal, or it has become a major source of stress, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate whether or not this particular goal makes sense for you at this point in your life. If your goal is to earn more money, have you thought about asking for a raise instead of switching jobs? Whatever your career aspirations may be, it is important to stay focused on the career direction that makes the most sense and take the appropriate steps.

8. Find a Mentor, or Become a Mentor

If you are new to the healthcare industry, identify a successful healthcare professional, and get to know them. This could be a co-worker, or it could be someone who works elsewhere in the healthcare field. A mentor may help introduce you to valuable contacts, or assist you in understanding aspects of your job which are not explained in school or in books, such as the politics of your organization, and how to navigate the system.

If you are a tenured healthcare professional, mentoring a newbie may fulfill your needs too. Staying in touch with the younger generation of healthcare workers can help you to understand what motivates the emerging workforce, as well as new methodologies. Plus, the best way to truly learn is to teach someone else!

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