What steps should young doctors make towards their career development?

Young people who choose Medicine for their profession are usually those who enjoy helping others and being useful is a mission for them. The feeling that you can change someone’s life for the better, save a life or see the good consequences of your efforts for solving a problem – these are the things which make the time spent at work meaningful. 

Except the pleasure from doing their job very well, medical specialists want to be rewarded the way they deserve and to be offered opportunities for a good professional development.

The development of physicians can happen in two directions – horizontally (by becoming better at putting diagnoses and curing their patients) and vertically (by climbing the hierarchical ladder). Most medical specialists derive pleasure from their job provided that they develop both horizontally and vertically.

In order to make this happen, doctors need to take a few well-planned steps.

1.       Choosing a university

The first step is taking the decision which university to apply for. Except the good medical equipment and the image of the lecturers, another important criterion is the international connections of the university with foreign universities and research centres which increases the chances for students to gain international experience.

Why is international experience so important?

The world is changing towards a removal of the health care borders. People will be able to freely search for medical help in foreign countries where huge innovative health centres will be built. These centres will have the potential to serve thousands of people. There is a tendency for small hospitals to become part of the structure of bigger, much more financially powerful hospitals. These enormous centres will need medical specialists with international experience to cope with serving foreign patients.

Nowadays, preparing for a career in the international area is equivalent to freedom of choice. If a doctor isn’t satisfied with the working conditions in their country or they want to make a big change in their life, then they can move to a foreign country and apply for a job position anywhere in the world where their qualifications are recognized.

For EU citizens this means opportunities for a career development in any EU member state since all medical diplomas issued by universities situated on the territory of the EU are internationally recognized.

Another good opportunity for getting international experience while studying Medicine is applying for a university in Eastern Europe where taxes are relatively low and the university hospitals have modern facilities and equipment. These medical universities strive for gaining competitive advantages through implementing innovative teaching methods like the 3D training at the Medical University in the town of Pleven, Bulgaria.

In the beginning of 2014 the Bulgarian Medical University in Plovdiv won an award for being “The best university in Southeast Europe”, given by the Europe Business Assembly and the International Socrates Committee. When a foreign student studies in such a university, they learn a lot about the culture of a European country, enrich their personality and master another European language. 

The knowledge of several European languages is important for a career in the EU because even if a physician works in their native country, they will inevitably encounter foreign patients or immigrants. In Germany multilingual medical specialists are highly valued because they can communicate with representatives of other cultures.

The European parliament has set a goal to facilitate as much as possible the mobility of medical specialists. It has recently modernized the Directive of Professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC). One of the new things is the creation of the European Professional Card - an electronic certificate to allow the cardholder to obtain the recognition of his or her qualifications in a simplified and accelerated manner. This will allow doctors to move from one country to another much faster than before.

When a 19-year old young person is trying to make an important decision like which university to apply for, it is better to rely on the services of a competent consultancy like Forum der Medizin to help him/her get oriented in the sea of opportunities.  Studying Medicine is a huge investment of financial means and time and the aim is to derive maximum benefits from the university education in terms of future career prospects.

2.       Choosing what to specialize in


You need to determine whether you want to do clinical activity, ambulatory service, or health management.  

Health management is an area which will become more and more significant due to the growing need for good management in the newly-built tremendous hospital chains.

One of the criteria for determining what to specialize in is the internal feeling of students while studying the different university subjects as well as during their clinical practice. If they feel drawn to a certain area, this should be their biggest reference point and not things like the opinion of friends, relatives and parents.

And yet, if a student cannot feel what attracts them the most, they can rely again on the assistance of a consultancy to help them determine the most suitable specialization for them based on personality traits, goals and values.


3.       Choosing an employer

The next step is applying for a job in the native or a foreign country. The different employers focus on the development of different aspects of their hospitals. Some of them think that the luxurious working environment is a priority. Other employers provide very good training opportunities for their employees while a third group of hospital managers take measures to ensure a more flexible working time and health care for the physicians. Hospitals have a different policy regarding the service of patients, the bureaucratic procedures, etc. All these criteria should be taken into consideration by doctors when making a decision where to apply for a job.

A person can come across a lot of misleading information in the Internet about the working conditions in different hospitals. Your career depends to a great extent on your chance to make a well-informed decision. Professional consultants specialized in providing career support to medical specialists can give you their objective viewpoint on a great number of employers. Consultancies are not financially tied to hospitals. This means that consultants can offer you a critical opinion about different employers.

4.       Individual coaching for solving work and personal issues

Finding a good employer isn’t the last step towards a career growth. Physicians’ profession is connected with a lot of responsibilities and challenges. 

They are required to be able to work independently and in a team, to be able to win patients’ trust, to react calmly in urgent and stressful situations. Sometimes medical specialists might face personal crises which affect the quality of their work. Keeping the balance between private life and work is also an important issue because it influences doctors’ health, satisfaction and ability to concentrate. At such points in their lives, it is recommendable that physicians search for professional help in the form of individual coaching so that they will be able to find a way out of the crisis in the best and least painful way. Seeking such kind of support isn’t a weakness at all. In fact, it is one of the smartest investments a doctor can make into his/her career and personal happiness.

The article was created with the cooperation of Dr Meridonov

The text was written by: Mariya Dim

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