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If only…

If only I had done this or that…

If only we could get through our careers without making mistakes or without missing a performance target, our best intentions, our best efforts notwithstanding?

But alas…

“Hell is not merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them.  Yes, and furnished too.”  While there is a whiff of truth in Adolphus Huxley’s seemingly rueful assessment, as CEOs work to tighten expenses, the operating and financial metrics are becoming tougher and more important and the executives are facing increasing pressure to perform or step aside.

First, some perspective:  30 years ago, most hospital administration graduate students got residencies and job offers in an operational role.  The majority of the good ones moved on to enjoy a career, with varying success, as vice presidents, COOs, CFOs, CNOs and CEOs of hospitals.  That pathway is no longer an easy road to navigate.

Which brings us to this unfortunate but realistic truth — only a small number of hospital management graduate students today are wired to be successful operational executives in this transformative phase of healthcare.  Fewer still will have what it takes to make it to the top.

There is no better time to stop, look at your career, and reassess your future.

Anecdotally, I have met more erstwhile executives than I care to count who are struggling to work their way up the career ladder but have had a series of short tenure positions.  They always seem to be on the reduction in force short list. Sadly, for the second, third or fourth time they accept a termination plan, engage an outplacement coach and begin the search for a similar job in a new town.  Most outplacement counselors go through the motions — they focus on retooling the resume and they work to craft a scenario, a storyline to help the candidate achieve that goal.

Stop! Executives should not keep repeating the same career management mistakes.  They should not allow themselves to be trapped and marginalized, their career brand to be stained with the image of being a job hopper or, worse, an inept manager.

Stop!  Look for someone who can help you assess your skills and understand your value so that you can find a new pathway to success and happiness.  There are going to be plenty of healthcare jobs in the future, just not as many in the acute care management arena.  It is time to stop and rethink your career path.