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Where will your healthcare career take you over the next five years? What about the next ten? The next twenty? You might be working a steady job now, but if you don’t make a point of taking a firm hold of your career path, it can swiftly drive you into a rut. If you’re looking for the next big step in your healthcare career, here’s some of the best advice for taking it.

Invest in Education

Education is extremely important for advancing any career, not least of all when you’re working in the healthcare sector. With each degree or qualification in a specialised program, you’ll open up more opportunities which could bring you closer to your dream career. Of course, pursuing further education in such a demanding field is easier said than done when you’ve got bills to pay. You may want to consider a part-time distance learning program, or looking for more flexible jobs in your current organisation that will allow more room for your education. You may be able to supplement your reduced income with a tax refund for nurses. If you’re going to go in for a whole other degree, I’d recommend choosing an advanced one. Most of the more desirable positions in advanced practice, research, teaching and leadership will require an advanced degree.

Create and Leverage Networks

That old adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds fast to some extent in the medical industry. By expanding your professional network, you’ll be able to exchange ideas, and learn about new approaches to problems you face in your day-to-day work. You may also be able to rub shoulders with the people in your organization who have a considerable influence on who moves up the ladder and how quickly they do it. To get the most out of your networking, you should start by choosing something that you really care about in your job, and focus your attention on professionals who demonstrate the same interest. These days, with the huge role that social media and other online platforms play in our lives, it’s easier than ever to reach out to professional contacts. Aside from mainstream networks like LinkedIn, try joining a health worker’s association in your area and use it to keep your finger on the pulse.

Find a Mentor

It takes time to develop a close mentoring relationship with someone, and you can’t really force it. However, a nurse or other healthcare worker can still do things to help their chances. First of all, identify someone who you feel comfortable around and consider a good role model. Then, start asking them for career advice, whether directly or simply by discussing the current stage in your career. Although you don’t want to pester anybody, a lot of your seniors will be impressed by your initiative if you go out of your way to ask for some professional guidance. If there’s no one in your immediate circle, you can always reach out to other professionals through networking. Ideally though, you should get your mentoring from someone you work with in-person.

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