Career success requires enthusiasm, passion and perseverance. It also helps to have a plan that, if followed, will help you achieve your professional goals. With that in mind, here are my “10 Keys to Career Advancement.” While there may be more than 10 attributes that help you grow personally and professionally, the focus here is on the 10 that I have found most helpful for a career in health IT.
1. Determine your passion and remain passionate. For me personally, passion is the enabler that allows me to do my personal best, regardless of the situation. It is enthusiasm. And it’s the spark that allows me to continue my role regardless of the obstacles presented.
2. Conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of your skills and abilities. In addition to being passionate, an assessment of your skills and abilities is very important since gaps may be identified as well as strategies to overcome them. Recognized as an essential performance improvement tool, the SWOT analysis can be adapted to help one assess his or her true potential. To do so, all you need is a willing attitude to identify the good (strengths), the not-so-good (weaknesses), the potential (opportunities) and the gaps that delay career success (threats).
3. Take advantage of training. It’s critical that you take advantage of training offered by your employer. HIT professionals are very busy, but do all that you can to make time to participate, whether the offerings are internal or external. Many times, employers allocate money for professional development. By participating in training, you demonstrate a willingness to acquire the additional skills needed to enhance your performance.
4. Identify a professional association or two to join. And volunteer. This is critical to your professional advancement. But it’s not enough to join: You must volunteer, which, incidentally, leads to networking, allowing you to share and gain new skills. Volunteering is a best-kept secret. By volunteering, you align yourself with others of a similar passion and attitude, and you will benefit tremendously from doing so. Additionally, giving back to the industry you serve may lead to other career opportunities.
5. Seek professional certification. While working in a health IT environment, it is critical to seek professional certification. Do organizations require it? Some may, others may not. But as a professional, I strongly recommend you seek credentials that add to your skills and that help differentiate you from others. You never know when a particular certification may be a deciding factor between two individuals competing for the same position.
6. Seek advancement. This demonstrates to your organization and to your peers that you are serious about growing professionally. Many times, to achieve a Fellow status for an association, one must demonstrate that he or she has engaged in a multitude of activities, i.e., writing, presenting, volunteering, etc. And by doing so, you grow personally and professionally along the journey to advanced status.
7. Earn an advanced degree. While continuing education is important, don’t forget about advancing one’s degree. Health IT professionals are extremely busy, but, online graduate programs offer the accessibility that a busy professional needs. And earning an advanced degree demonstrates initiative and a desire to continue learning. There is just no better way to ensure up-to-date skills than by engaging in academic coursework.
8. Be an agent of change: This is difficult work. After all, others may not want things to change, but, by identifying better ways to do existing work, you’ll be viewed as an innovator and a leader. Don’t just go with the flow: Ask questions and be willing to re-engineer processes.
9. Be dependable. Enough said.
10. Exceed expectations. To exceed expectations, you must understand what those expectations are, and then develop a plan to exceed them. This takes work. But again, if you have the passion to excel in a given role, then work becomes secondary to realizing the passion.
There you have it: JoAnn’s top ten keys to career advancement. Is my list helpful? I hope so. Is there something missing? Probably. But I am passionate about my list, and I hope that you too can become passionate about advancing your career.