For many new or job-changing hospitalists, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners, finding your next position in your ideal location may be your main focus. It’s easy to imagine that once you land a job in California or Hawaii or your hometown, the rest of your career will fall easily into place.
But hospital medicine is demanding stuff, and geography alone won't sustain you. If the position is a bad fit, you can get so busy meeting the needs of others that you lose sight of your own. Eventually, survival mode kicks in, and your drive and passion begin to fade.
In order to maintain a sense of forward momentum and job satisfaction, it helps to set annual goals. What could you accomplish this year that would really get you excited about your career? What skills could take your practice to the next level? Are your current actions in sync with your values and life purpose?
The beginning of the year can be a great time to do this, but you can start anytime. To help get you get rolling, here are some tips I've learned through the years:
Base goals on your passion
To get the most satisfaction from your career, start by identifying your passion. Why did you select medicine as a career and how does it relate to your life purpose? Once you are clear on what motivates you to get up in the morning, you can set your goals to help drive and sustain that passion. Specifically, think about where your joy comes from. For instance, consider which of the following areas you see yourself making the largest contribution in and set your goals toward building new skills in these areas:
- Pure clinical care
- Improving systems
- Managing the business side of operations
Consider gaps in your skillset
As much as you know now, there will always be gaps between your training and experience and your potential. In setting goals, you should consider these gaps and the various ways you can fill them. You may want to work as a reservist
, which would give you the opportunity to spend periods of time at different hospitals in different locations and broaden your perspective. You may want to seek a visa to continue your practice in the United States
. Or, you may want to take on a leadership role
that sets you apart from your peers.
Broadening your credentials so you stand out from the crowd makes it easier to achieve your personal growth goals.
Set goals that are measurable
If you don’t have goals you can measure, it’s too easy to let them slide when you get busy with other obligations. Examples of some measurable goals I’ve set for my own career include:
- Gaining experience in project management. I pursued this by taking leadership courses focused on lean principles, performance improvement, and quality improvement through organizations like the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and others.
- Gaining experience in people management. I honed these skills by taking courses in management and leadership theory through the American Association for Physician Leadership and Society of Hospital Medicine.
- Learning from a variety of leaders by exposing myself to their leadership styles. In this case, I was able to list the skills I wanted to master and measure improvements in my competence over the year.
Once you’ve established your goals and determined how you will measure both your progress and success, create a timeline for achieving each milestone. Also, consider finding an accountability partner who will check in with you now and then to make sure you're on track.
Goals that are admirable but not attainable are a waste of the paper they are written on. The purpose of goal setting is to maintain satisfaction with your career. Make sure you have the resources you need to achieve your specific goals so that you have no roadblocks to success.
Don’t forget personal goals
Part of creating a successful career as a hospitalist, PA, or NP is taking care of yourself and making time for family and friends. When you enjoy your time away from work, you will be a more rested, relaxed, and engaged healthcare provider.
If you’re just coming out of a residency program, now is the perfect time to contemplate what a work-life balance will look like for you and what goals you need to set to achieve that.
Your personal goals can include anything from the number of hours you want to sleep to learning a new skill like painting or creative writing to having time to pick your children up from school or daycare. These are all measurable goals that are realistic for anyone who works in hospital medicine. But you have to set them to achieve them.
A final thought: one of the benefits of working for a physician partnership like CEP America is flexibility. You'll have more leeway to create a work schedule that allows you time for yourself. Work-life balance is great for your career longevity, and we believe it's also good for your patients. When you feel rested and fulfilled, you have more energy and compassion to give to others.