As you move along your career path, it’s important to keep your skills sharp, develop new ones, and gain more knowledge. Whether you want to advance your healthcare career, change positions, or become a more seasoned and skilled employee in your current role, developing as a professional is a valuable experience. When you work on professional development, you acquire new knowledge and expand your skill set while enjoying more job satisfaction and other benefits.

What Is Professional Development?

Professional development includes steps you take to improve your job performance, become more knowledgeable in your field, and develop new skills. This can be done in different ways, such as through continuing education, taking an online course for certification, or learning a new skill. In some cases, professional development is required to continue working in a particular position. For example, you might be required to take continuing education courses to keep working in a healthcare job.

Professional development can also include job training to help you learn new skills, improve existing skills, or learn new information. Whether you decide to work on professional development or need to for your job, you’ll find many kinds of professional development opportunities available.

Why Is Professional Development Important?

Professional development provides a way to enhance your career and work experience. When you focus on developing your professional skills and knowledge, you take a step toward advancing your career or taking on additional responsibilities in your current job. Without this kind of development, your career can quickly stagnate, which can end up lowering your morale as an employee and make it harder to find fulfillment in your job.

When you take the time to develop as a professional, you’ll stay up to date on the latest information in your field, such as regulatory changes or updates to processes and procedures. Whether or not you’re required to take continuing education or do professional development training, you’ll be in a better position to move up in your career, find your current job more rewarding, or even switch to another career in your field.

The Importance of Professional Development in Healthcare

While professional development is essential in any field, it provides distinct advantages in healthcare. A healthcare employee working towards developing professionally can affect their own experience on the job, as well as the patients under their care. Even if you don’t have a healthcare job involving direct patient care, professional development can affect the overall quality of care patients receive in your medical facility or organization, such as if you handle medical billing and coding or administrative medical assisting. Professional development can have the following benefits when you work in the healthcare field:

Increased Skill Set

A more extensive skill set can make you a more valuable employee at your current job, make it easier to find a new job, and put you ahead of the competition in your field.

You learn several skills when you go through a certificate or degree program for a healthcare career. For example, you could learn the skills needed for patient care in a nursing program. However, there’s always room to expand your skill set, such as learning new technical, safety, or soft skills. Doing so can open more doors for you in your career and allow you to handle more responsibilities on the job.

Improved Patient Care

When you work directly with patients as a nurse, clinical medical assistant, physical therapist, or other healthcare worker, you have a duty to provide high-quality patient care. With professional development, education, and training, you’ll gain more knowledge and develop skills that allow you to provide better care and improve patient safety.

Professional development is also helpful when your healthcare job doesn’t involve direct patient care. If you work behind the scenes in a hospital or doctor’s office, the tasks you perform can impact patient care in your facility. Working on professional development helps ensure you’re able to do your job accurately with reduced errors or other issues that can lead to problems with patient care.

Increased Job Satisfaction

Working in healthcare can provide a certain amount of satisfaction, knowing that you’re helping people get the care they need, either directly or indirectly. However, over time, you might experience burnout, compassion fatigue, or lowered job satisfaction and morale, potentially leading to lower-quality patient care.

Professional development offers an effective way to boost employee morale and improve job satisfaction. Learning new skills or acquiring new knowledge can give you a deeper appreciation for your work. This can lead to a renewed interest in your career and motivation to continue doing your best. You might also feel inspired to advance your career or take on new challenges that enhance your career.

Setting Your Goals for Professional Development

Having professional development goals allows you to plan out this process. Setting goals can also help you stay motivated to strive for improvement. How can you go about setting your goals for professional development? Think about what you want to accomplish overall, then come up with tasks to help you get to that point. Keep your goals specific and plan out the steps you’ll need to achieve them.

What kinds of goals should you set? This depends on your overarching goal and whether or not you’re required to do professional development as part of your career. Examples of professional development goals you might set include learning a new skill, expanding your skill set with multiple skills, taking on leadership responsibilities at work, building your professional network, beefing up your credentials, and staying up to date on the latest news in your field.

How to Create a Professional Development Plan

When you have an idea of your professional development goals, it’s time to create a plan. With a plan in place, you’ll know what steps you need to take to accomplish your goals. Write down specific goals you want or need to achieve as part of your professional development, then write down your strategy to accomplish them. For example, you might need to sign up for continuing education for your healthcare job, or you might decide to earn a certificate or degree to learn new skills.

Give yourself enough time to work on achieving your goals, and adjust your plan as needed. Consider rewarding yourself each time you accomplish a professional development goal, as this can encourage you to keep working toward achieving more.

Need Help Setting Your Goals for Professional Development?

Setting the right goals for your professional development can be difficult. The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) offers career services to assist with this. Our services provide you with assistance in figuring out your professional development goals and determining the best ways to achieve them. Our advisors take several factors into consideration, such as career advancement, continuing education requirements, and your personal goals, to help you set professional development goals. Our Career Services can also assist you in other ways, such as resume building, interview prep, and more.

If you’re looking into starting a healthcare career or advancing your career, contact CHCP. We offer several certificate and degree programs in healthcare, from nursing to medical billing and coding. As a student, you’ll have access to career services advisors and online tools to help you set professional development goals.