How to Set Career Goals You Can Actually Attain

2020 goals blocks for respiratory therapists
As we ring in the New Year, now is a great time to think about your career goals in respiratory care. Especially if you are just starting out in the field, it’s paramount to plan for the future, because, as we all know, health care is a dynamic industry that is constantly changing, and clinicians who succeed over their time in the profession are those who see changes coming and prepare for them.

But setting career goals can be tricky — you don’t want to take on more than you can really accomplish, as overcommitting to anything just sets you up for failure.

Joseph Ariale, BSRT, RRT, is a young RT at the Medical University of South Carolina who has some great advice for his fellow 20-and-30-something therapists about setting realistic goals that you can see through to fruition —

Why do you think it is important for RTs to set career goals?

It is important for RTs to set up career goals primarily because it is far too easy to stagnate and become accustomed to life outside of the pressures of school. Starting a new career brings its own stressors, like learning protocols and doing everything you can to help your patients when you’re finally on your own without a clinical preceptor. Setting career goals will give a path to follow when outside pressure may be clouding your focus. It’s also okay to change those career goals when you gain perspective while gaining experience.

What are some realistic career goals that young RTs could begin working toward shortly after graduating and why do you think these goals are worth pursuing? 

One goal would be to continue their education and go for their BSRT degree. A BSRT program will give them skills that will help their patients by teaching things like researching evidence-based medicine. Another goal would be to obtain additional credentials in the areas to which they are drawn. Those credentials, and the studying for their requisite exams, will help them to gain a greater knowledge that can help improve their capacity to help their patients.

What are your top 3-5 tips for young RTs on setting and meeting these goals?

The first tip would be to get those goals laid out and put in a location that will be seen frequently. If they are printed/written out and on your refrigerator, they will continually be front of mind and they can’t get lost in the shuffle of life.

Second would be to ask for help from those who are in those positions where you want to be. Getting a mentor will help to smooth out the process and get you to your goals faster.

Third, keep an open mind when it comes to your goals, as they may change over time. I had goals all set when I got out of my associate degree program. As I started gaining experience, those goals were no longer representative of where I wanted to be in the future. My goals have changed, and they now reflect the impact I wish to have on the respiratory world.