For healthcare professionals, career transitions can be both exciting and tricky. Much thought must go into transitions if they are to be successful; thus, it is prudent to employ a circumspect strategy that will take all factors into account before choosing to make a conscious career change.

Know Your Why

Making a career change or job transition can be a big deal when you take into consideration the potential repercussions that may reverberate throughout all aspects of your life. When a change is in the offing, be certain that it involves a great deal of critical thinking and strategic planning, and be even more certain that you’re in touch with why you’re choosing to seek a new opportunity.

Your “why” vis-à-vis a pending career change may be due to a variety of factors that impact you on a daily basis. No matter what the root cause, understanding the underlying motivations behind your desire for change is paramount.

Healthcare workers leave jobs and/or employers for mostly the same reasons that workers in other industries do:

  • An ineffective boss or administration
  • Feeling like so much cannon fodder or a cog in the wheel
  • A negative workplace culture (e.g., bullying, backbiting, etc.)
  • Lack of opportunity for advancement
  • Lack of incentives for remaining with an employer (e.g., few if any raises, lackluster benefits, no support for pursuing certifications, trainings, or further education)
  • Unsafe practice environment putting your license at risk

Whatever the reason for wanting to move on to greener pastures, being in touch with that reason is central to making good choices and landing in a more amenable workplace environment and not just trading one disappointing circumstance for another. Simply wanting change is not always a compelling argument for exiting stage left, thus deep consideration is called for.

Make a Plan

Once you know your “why,” you can begin the process of making a plan for your departure for a more promising professional future and career trajectory.

With your “why” dialed in, the next order of business is to decide what may be next for you. Here are some considerations for that all-important process:

  • What do you truly want out of your career in the next several years?
  • Will this move be a stepping stone towards a greater long-term goal or is it a goal in and of itself?
  • Who can you network with or talk to in order to gather more information?
  • What will you look for in a new job, employer, and workplace environment?
  • How can you vet your next potential workplace and employer to the extent that you can know as clearly as possible what you’re getting yourself into? Who can you speak with and what research can you do to gather that information?
  • What type of workstyle and lifestyle do you want? What salary, benefits, and schedule do you need to make this attractive? Are there any aspects that are essentially non-negotiable?
  • How will this change impact your family and loved ones?
  • What financial considerations must be weighed in order for this move to be a positive one?

There are many more potential questions to ponder; however, this list is a good start for digging a little deeper and using the opportunity of looking for a new position or workplace as a means of advancing your career in the best possible direction. Prudent choices are needed, and this is achieved by leaving no stone unturned in the process.

Continually Reassess

Your healthcare career is an ever-evolving moving target. Perhaps you began your journey as a nurse seeking a career in hospice but you unexpectedly fell in love with labor and delivery and have never looked back as you move towards becoming a nurse midwife.

Or perhaps you’re a physician hospitalist and now want to start your own concierge medical practice so that you can have more control over your schedule and have more time with your kids. The sky’s the limit, and creative solutions exist if you know how to look for them.

As the years go by, the world around you will change, and you will likely change along with it. Technology, research, and new avenues of professional development may cause you to rethink your direction or solidify your current career path.

Meanwhile, your personal life can affect your work life when you have children, get married or divorced, suffer disability, send the kids off to college, move to a new location, lose loved ones, go back to school, or otherwise undergo major and minor changes. The same job may not speak to you in the same way when you’re changing on the inside or when your outer circumstances evolve.

If you can put your finger on why you want or need a change, that’s a good start. A strategic plan is the next step in moving forward in this regard. And if you can consistently assess and reassess your situation, your needs, and your motivations, this will also serve you well in this process of self-discovery and professional and personal fulfillment.