Hospitals and other organizations are famous for coming up with “strategic plans” aimed at taking them into the future. Complete with specific objectives and action items to achieve these plans, they help keep organizations on track to meet their goals.

What’s good for your organization might work just as well for you as you look at your career in respiratory care and where you want to go with it. These seven steps can help you get started on a personal strategic plan all your own:

  1. First, set aside some time away from work and the hustle and bustle of your daily life to think about what you’d like to accomplish.
  2. Next, make a list of the things you value most when it comes to your job. For some RTs, direct patient care may head up the list; for others it could be the opportunity to lead the way for others. Whatever means the most to you sets the stage for the journey you will take toward professional growth.
  3. With your core values in hand, now you can write a brief mission statement for yourself stating who you are and the values you want to honor as a respiratory therapist. The mission statement can serve as a great way to keep yourself grounded as opportunities come your way.
  4. From there, do a SWOT analysis on yourself. In other words, identify your personal Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s also a good idea to run your analysis by a trusted mentor or friend to see whether they believe you’re hitting the right marks.
  5. Now that you know what you value and have a good handle on what you’re good at and where you need work, it’s time to create your goals. For example, if “leadership” is one of the things you value, then a good goal might be “take on a leadership role in my organization.” That could be anything from getting promoted to day shift supervisor to volunteering to head up a department or hospital committee. Keep your initial list of goals to a minimum – 3-4 at most – to ensure you can stay focused on achieving them.
  6. Goals are great, but without a solid plan of action, they often come to naught. So under each of your goals write 2-3 clear and doable actions you can take to meet the goal, along with a time frame in which you need to complete each action. So, if one of your goals was to “take on a leadership role in my organization,” your actions could range from anything from “visit with my department manager to identify opportunities” to “go back to school to earn a higher degree.”
  7. Lastly, you’ll want to enlist some support from a mentor or friend who will agree to meet with you on a regular basis to help you stay on the track you’ve identified for yourself. This doesn’t have to take up a lot of time on either person’s part: a quick phone call every other week or an email exchange once a month could suffice.