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Navigate a Healthcare Career Transition

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Successfully navigating a career transition can be tricky. If you're thinking of leaving your employer or venturing into a new field -- or if you're concerned about the stability of your job -- take some advice from healthcare career experts.

Think Ahead

Because the healthcare industry is so volatile, you must be ready for change at all times. Always have a resume ready, and be aware of emerging opportunities both inside and outside your workplace. Keep a running inventory of your transferable skills.

Do Your Homework

Investigate what it would take to become qualified for your target job. You may have to return to school or work in a less-than-perfect position on the way to accomplishing your goal. Weigh the sacrifices and rewards.

Turn Setbacks Around

A layoff may prompt you to reexamine your career goals for the first time in years. Don't be afraid to ask for help from an outsourcing firm, a career coach, former colleagues, friends and family while you're in transition.

Consider the Big Picture

Health professionals should consider how their working lives connect with other parts of their lives, such as family commitments, before making career decisions, experts say. Think about what you like and dislike about your current job, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how your job fits into your life. If you don't conduct this type of self-examination, you risk ending up in the same type of job you left or making a bad career decision.

Look Before You Leap

If you think you're interested in a specific field, you may want to try it out before you commit to it full-time. For example, if you've always worked in a hospital but think you'd like working in home care, you could try it on a part-time basis before quitting your other job.

Network, Network, Network

Workplace experts and successful career navigators preach the importance of networking. Former colleagues or acquaintances from your professional association can refer you to jobs -- or even hire you. If you've been laid off because of structural changes affecting your profession, staying in touch with others who are going through similar ordeals could be a valuable source of support.

Keep Your Options Open

Health professionals should have a career plan, but remain flexible when unexpected opportunities arise, experts stress. For example, nurses have traditionally considered the progression from staff nurse to charge nurse to head nurse to director of nursing as the only career path. That paradigm doesn't apply anymore, with so many settings and job descriptions from which to choose.

Don't Beat Yourself Up

While you are in the midst of a career transition, don't forget to take care of yourself emotionally, experts say. Health professionals' sense of self-worth is often wrapped up in their jobs, and this perception can be damaging during stressful periods of career upheaval.

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