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As I was writing last month about how to stand out in your medical workplace, Peta Hughes, a third-year medical student from Canberra, wrote of her experience as a contact tracer.

And when we happened to share a page in the last edition of the Canberra Doctor, the publication of AMA (ACT) Ltd (page 5, Issue 4, 2021), I was inspired to share some thoughts about stepping up to higher duties.

Anyone working in the healthcare sector has undoubtedly experienced this over the past two years.

As a career coach, I encourage you to think about how you can talk about that experience when it comes to interviews and other career opportunities this year and into the future.

Taking stock of experiences – skills developed and lessons learned

In her piece, Peta highlights the shift that her abilities have undergone to empathise and communicate with the people on the other end of a phone line.

She speaks of exposure to a wide spectrum of people with varying degrees of stress and frustration due to their circumstances.

Beyond contact tracing, hospital workers cover for bosses, work repeat rotations, and take on duties higher than their level of professional training and experience.

If you’ve experienced a similar situation where you have had to step up because of extenuating circumstances, the skills you developed and demonstrated are not wasted. It’s what you choose to do with those skills and any lessons learned that matters.

So, once the fog of exhaustion that you are feeling has cleared, ensure that you update your CV and make some notes about where and when you worked during this time – what did you learn that was not part of the curriculum or position description for your current role?

Looking ahead for the longer game

As the pandemic continues, so do the extensive efforts by medical practitioners to achieve career goals and milestones.

I frequently speak with doctors who want to ensure that, despite the increased workload, pressure and setbacks, they stay on track (as much as possible) with their plans.

A client recently achieved her goal of gaining her first consultant role, despite missing out on a few roles for which she had applied previously. This followed some communications around her disappointment when I reminded her that anything can happen in the application process.. As it turned out, a week later she wrote to say that she had been offered a position for which she had previously been awarded the place of runner up.

It was a clear example of the need to not fall victim to the missed opportunity and the need to hang in and keep pushing forward. Careers are full of not only successes but also the occasional disappointment, especially when taking a significant step up.  And it always pays to remember that regardless of the outcome of a job interview, the experience and learnings from the interview itself can be applied to future job interviews.

Being ready for when the opportunities present

Strategically planning your goals and clearly defining the objectives required not only keeps you moving toward those higher roles but also positions you strongly as a candidate who can prepare and execute plans in other contexts.

And taking the view that an opportunity for career development may arise tomorrow sharpens your focus on what you will need to present when that moment arises. Fortune favours the well-prepared.

A great place to start is by updating your CV. While this can seem overwhelming, with the right support and advice, you will be confident in your readiness to apply for roles when you are confident that your CV is a strong introduction to the recruiting team for that next-level role.

Anita Fletcher is a career coach for medical practitioners. She frequently helps doctors to plan for challenging undertakings, without losing sight of their ambitions or the people they serve.

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