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The ultimate guide to career development for health professionals in just 4 simple steps

Careers and University, Dentistry, Dietetics, Exercise Physiology / Science, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Psychology, Sports Science, The Health Industry

A treasure trove of knowledge for anyone in health who is serious about their career advancement was released recently. It was titled the Allied Health Career Pathways Blueprint, and it contains gems for anyone who has a background as a clinician and is looking to transform their career.

1. Understanding what you already bring to the table

Considering the 4 key blueprint principles are the perfect approach to getting underway, as they will encourage you to look at your starting point.

Firstly, the principle of value. In what ways do you add value to the organisation you are currently working in? If you really look, could you tease out a greater appreciation for what competencies you already have at your disposal? Is your greatest value in being efficient, do you have excellent communication skills, or are there additional proficiencies you have picked up along the way?

Secondly, the principle of building. What opportunities can you identify that will assist you in building on the skills you have to set the bar even higher?

Thirdly, the principle of progress. In the time that you have been in your profession, what has changed? How has progress taken place? How do you see yourself as part of the future progress in health care, potentially even at the cutting edge?

Fourthly, the principle of impact. How have you leveraged your skills in your current role, and where have you had the greatest impact? Have you improved the delivery of services, increased profits, been the catalyst for building a more cohesive team within your organisation, or had a significant impact outside your organisation?

2. Identifying your stream

The blueprint has identified 5 core work streams that health professionals may engage in when they are looking at the overall direction in which they would like to take in terms of career development. These are practice, education, research, management and strategy.

Practice involves being a clinician delivering patient care directly.

Education could take a number of forms ranging from providing instruction and education to patients and communities to health practitioners and students in clinical or academic environments.

Research could be at the level of systematic investigation to increase knowledge and establish an evidence base, or could be via translating research into practice.

Management could be in diverse ways such as leading and managing departments, service delivery, human resources or project funding.

Strategy might include leading change, developing and leading policy, implementing innovations, or transforming processes for an industry, sector or organisation.

3. Defining your future growth

The 4 levels of growth defined in the blueprint are gaining experience, further skills and knowledge, becoming an expert and being an acknowledged leader.
Gaining experience is the initial phase of acquiring your qualification and consolidating your skills.

Further skills and knowledge is the next phase where as a practitioner you develop a deeper breadth of experience and understanding within your profession.
Becoming an expert is where you deepen your knowledge and skill in a particular area.

Being an acknowledged leader is where you are recognised by your peers as someone able to guide and influence others.

4. Transitioning from where you are to a leadership role

Now that you understand what you bring to the table, have identified your stream and have defined the level of growth you wish to attain in the future, it’s important to consider how you are going to make this transition. Now is the time to step out of the model of the blueprint and use the principles to transform your career in a tangible way.

If you are currently a clinician and know that the predominantly academic areas of education or research aren’t the best fit for you, management or strategy would be excellent areas to look at. If you were to go down that path, you would need to develop further skills and knowledge on the way to becoming an expert or acknowledged leader.

The knowledge you would need to gain in order to make this transition might include health economics, health law, systems and policy, management, developing health systems and the application of strategies which advance managing patient care processes.

A postgraduate qualification could be an excellent investment in your career development and aspirations. The Monash Online Master of Health Administration has been developed with aspiring health care managers in mind with the course focusing on leadership, marketing, economics and management of the patient care process. This master’s qualification will also boost your health-specific knowledge with areas such as epidemiology and biostatistics being included.

The Master of Health Administration has been purposely designed to build upon your ability to lead and manage effectively in a health care environment. The fusion of the course units from The Faculty of Business and Economics with those from The School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine means that you will gain knowledge of both business and health care practices.

On completion of the course, opportunities that would be open to you as an expert or acknowledged leader would be in health care organisations including government and non-government organisations. You might find yourself in high-level roles in private or health and welfare service management, practice management or in the management of teams of health professionals.

Now you have access to the ultimate blueprint and means to develop your career in health. Now is the time to put your aspirations into action.

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