Looking to advance your career in nonprofit healthcare but not sure about the next step to take? Having a clear set of goals can help. Let’s take a look at some specific goals you can set to help you move up within your institution.
Nonprofit healthcare organizations are a great place to advance health careers because they play such a large role in the delivery of healthcare across the United States. Approximately 60% of community hospitals in America are nonprofit.1 In some states—New York, for example—all of the hospitals are either nonprofit or public by law.2
Teaching hospitals offer you the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research and publish your findings, helping to raise your profile and advance your healthcare career.
For all the opportunity they offer, these nonprofit healthcare systems come with their own unique set of workplace demands. In addition to delivering healthcare and treating patients, nonprofit healthcare systems must prove that they deliver a community benefit in order to maintain their tax-exempt status.3 These are complex organizations—and there are a lot of competing priorities. So, how do you, as an individual, best ensure you’re setting the right goals and positioning yourself for success?
One strategy is to make your goals SMART, an acronym you might’ve encountered that means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.4
Let’s look at how you might set SMART goals for health careers.
For example, nurses regularly need to learn new systems for delivering patient care due to accelerating changes in telemedicine and electronic health records.5 So, you could set an annual goal for “20 hours of training in telemedicine and EHR this year” rather than “learn new technologies this year.”
Make it measurable
For doctors, exposure to other physicians outside of their specialty area offers the opportunity not just to grow their network, but to broaden their horizons and enhance their overall medical knowledge and skills, keeping them at the top of their game.6 A measurable goal for advancing their career might be, “I will have coffee with three doctors outside of my specialty area in the next three months.” This same type of exposure can be beneficial for nurses, administrators and other health care professionals as well.
Keep it attainable
Nonprofit hospitals must conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) and develop an implementation strategy to respond to identified community needs every three years.7 You don’t want to inadvertently hinder yourself by setting an unrealistic goal like, “I will singlehandedly spearhead this assessment on behalf of my organization.” Instead, try something more bite-sized, like “I will increase my visibility within the organization by being a key contributor to the ongoing CHNA.”
Ensure it’s relevant
Over the past couple decades, care at many nonprofit healthcare institutions has switched from mostly being inpatient to mostly outpatient.8 Additionally, telemedicine is rapidly expanding.9 If you’re a nurse or doctor, taking continuing education that allows you to best support these faster-growing areas could enhance your skill-set.
Make it time-bound
Teaching hospitals offer you the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research and publish your findings, helping to raise your profile and advance your healthcare career.10 A goal like “I will submit two studies for publication in a peer-reviewed publication this calendar year” is better than “I will get my research out there at some point.” Similarly, “I will complete two half-day workshops in my medical specialty area by June 30th” is preferable to “I will complete two half-day workshops in my specialty area sometime this year.” Deadlines matter.
So, be smart, and make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. In doing do, you’ll help ensure that you’re on track to maintain forward momentum and take your career in nonprofit healthcare to the next level.