Setting Career Goals

Setting career goals is important for everyone, not just health care professionals. Goals keep you focused and working toward something that is important to you and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Goals provide impetus for change, give you momentum, and don't let you burn out or become stagnant. Goals help you to continue to strive to be the best at what you do.


People (especially interviewers) will often ask, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” The answer is not so much about whether you aspire to become the world's greatest brain surgeon or rival da Vinci in medical illustration. It is more important to understand whether you have aspirations and goals or if you aspire to be doing the same thing for the next thirty years.

It's important to understand that the health care industry is changing and growing. It isn't staying the same. You might find the perfect job and love the people you work with. It's close to home and the management is about as perfect as it can get. You could be very happy there for the rest of your professional life. And then one day you start to hear the rumors. A new company has bought out your perfect facility. You'll have a new boss in a few weeks and procedures will change. Right out from under you, the perfect job is gone. The changes might work out to be great, but it's still not the same. Or your boss moves on for personal or professional reasons and you suddenly have the boss from hell.

It is important to re-examine your professional life periodically and to make changes to keep yourself fresh and interested and happy in your work. You should always keep abreast of the options. This will help ensure that you are prepared to make a move should life dictate the necessity. It's always good to be aware of your worth, including the kind of salaries, benefits, and working conditions that others in your field are earning.

Employers often eliminate positions to encourage new blood, and unfortunately sometimes to find new workers at lower salaries. This has been commonplace in other industries and is becoming more popular in the health care industry as well.


Employees generally don't stay and earn “the gold watch” for twenty-five years of service any longer, and employers don't expect employees to stick around that long. The trend for workers in other industries has been to make a move every three to five years in order to attain significant salary increases and improve benefits.

Sign-on bonuses and other tools for recruitment have sparked morale issues and caused long-term employees to become disenchanted at not being rewarded for their loyalty. With severe shortages in so many fields, facilities are re-examining some of the recruitment tactics and spending more time on retention issues in an effort to decrease some of the turnover that has been caused by their creative hiring techniques.

Thinking outside the box is necessary to solving shortages, but management has to take into consideration retention issues as well. Many more trials and errors will ensue in this area as shortages continue toward crisis levels, especially for nurses and some therapists.

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