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Introduction

As a physician, you will often think about what you want to do with your career. Career planning is not a one-off process – as your career progresses, you’ll be presented with options that hadn’t been presented previously or you hadn’t considered. Being flexible will open up career options, and your career planning will naturally evolve. Internship and residency exposes prevocational doctors to various medical specialties and environments, so they will have quite a few choices. Experienced physicians can use their years of experience and transferable skills to explore the career options and direction they want to pursue.

If you haven’t yet started developing a career plan, this article will help you understand what a career plan is, why you need one, and the resources available to assist.

If you are responsible for a team and the team members’ career plans, then you will find this article helpful to gain clarity on how to help them.

What does career planning mean?

Career planning is the process of researching, choosing and preparing for a career path. It involves taking stock of your skills and interests, exploring potential careers, making a plan and taking action to achieve your goals. By engaging in career planning, you can determine what steps to take to reach your desired professional destination. This process helps you to make well-informed decisions about your future and to gain clarity on the career path you want to pursue. Career planning is important because it allows you to become more focused on the direction of your life, identify potential opportunities and develop skills that will help you achieve successful career outcomes.

Additionally, understanding what options are available for your chosen field can help you decide if that field is the best fit for you and your goals. Finally, making time to plan your career can help you gain a competitive edge in today’s job market and ensure that you are successful in reaching your professional aspirations.

It can be overwhelming to think long-term, so start with short-term goals. For example, where do you see yourself in 12 months, 2 years, 5 years? If you have long-term goals you want to aim for, break these down into achievable short-term goals to remove the overwhelm.

Short term goals

When working through your short-term goals, you might need more clarity on the types of professional activities that will make you more competitive in the short and longer term. It also can depend on the opportunities (research projects, grants, scholarships, leadership) available at the time. With the experience you’ve gained so far, ask yourself:

Planning is an ongoing process:

Whether you are looking to prepare or revise a career plan for yourself or are responsible for your team’s career path planning, it’s essential to understand the following:

The benefits of career planning

It’s never too early to start planning for your future career. Your first career plan has likely led you to undertake a medical degree. You would have already thought about where your interests lie. As you move through your years as a doctor in training, you gain a greater understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with various fields and speciality areas.

As you gain experience and knowledge, you may want to move into a different field or role, which means your career plan will continue to evolve. It’s okay to change your mind about the direction of your career as long as it aligns with what you want to do and keeps you moving forward.

As a team leader, it’s important to encourage team members to set their own goals and take risks to step out of their comfort zone. These should be defined clearly in their career plans, including any training and education that will assist them in achieving their goals. As always, make sure the goals are achievable and team members will be able to leverage any support and assistance they’ll need.

Where to get help with planning your career

You won’t have to look far to get help evaluating your goals and developing your career plan. Many people who can assist, depending on the type of help you need:

Conclusion

Career planning is an important but often neglected part of a physician’s training. By taking the time to focus on your short-term goals, you can set yourself up for success both in your current position and in future opportunities. A career coach can help you create a plan that takes into account your unique skills and interests, as well as the changes happening in clinical and non-clinical industries. The benefits of a career plan are numerous and include increased job satisfaction, work/life balance and salary potential.

If you’re ready to start planning your next steps for 2023, contact me at [email protected]

I’d be happy to chat with you about how I can help you achieve your career goals.

 

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