Planning your career: the next move and making the most of your opportunities
Although there are many people and resources to help you with your career planning and progression, it is important that you remember that this is essentially your responsibility.
You should regularly assess your current position against your plans and evaluate what you still need to do (in terms of acquiring skills and demonstrating that you have done so) to be ready for the next step in your career plan. You are likely to have formal opportunities to do this, either with your educational supervisor or through the appraisal process. However, any meetings you arrange will be far more productive if you also undertake this kind of review yourself beforehand.
Keeping records is helpful in this process. You should make sure that you keep your CV and portfolio up to date and don’t just try to collate everything when you apply for a new job. If you can’t face constantly updating your portfolio, at least make sure that you keep any useful documentation so that the job is less arduous when you do undertake it.
The kind of records you should keep are:
- certificates of attendance at courses/conferences, etc
- copies of publications
- correspondence relating to any additional work you have undertaken (eg voluntary teaching)
- copies of completed workplace-based assessments, etc
- You will need to keep your logbook up to date continuously. If you do not complete this as you go along, it will be incredibly difficult to do so in retrospect; unless you have a phenomenal memory, you will not remember and include everything that you have done.
In addition to this, you also need to ensure you undertake all of the required workplace-based assessments considered in your appraisal.
A full list of these is available from the ISCP website. These assessments are designed both to judge whether you have reached the required level and to help you consider what you still need to learn. As such, they are invaluable tools to help you consider realistically your progress.
When considered in conjunction with your future plans, records like your portfolio and CV will help you identify any gaps in your skills and experience. Your educational supervisor and the appraisal process will help you consider ways in which you can fill these. However, you should again remember that it is ultimately your responsibility to undertake these actions.
During your career, you may find that you want or need to reconsider your original plan. Should this be the case, you will find it useful to have an understanding of which of your skills are transferable. You will have gained many skills that can be applied to many situations and you should not limit yourself to thinking you are only capable of succeeding in the specialty in which you have previously trained.
Non-clinical skills that may be transferable to other settings include:
- management of resources, time and people
- decision making
- negotiation/influencing skills
- an understanding of how complex organisations work
These can be applied to a range of careers both inside and outside medicine.
Furthermore, you will also have gained a wealth of clinical skills and knowledge that will allow you to consider either alternative specialties within surgery or alternative medical specialties. You may be particularly suited to a specialty that has strong links with surgery, such as accident and emergency, obstetrics and gynaecology, anaesthetics or interventional radiology.