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There are some interesting trends that will impact career management strategies over the next five to seven years. If you are in healthcare, hoping that these trends will not impact your career is simply not the smart play.

If you are someone who isn’t comfortable with change, now is the time to recalibrate your perspective and begin to prepare yourself for an entirely different career track.

Consider these developments.

  • More than 1,200 hospitals have merged since 1994
  • Between 2010 and 2014, there have been more than 457 hospital mergers. That number will continue to expand as hospital executives attempt to find a safe harbor and spread the perceived risks
  • Consolidation has reached a point in some markets — now dominated by two or three organizations — that the drumbeat for spreading risks and protecting profit margins will drive mega mergers — the merger of large systems within a market
  • There has been a 32 percent increase in the number of physicians who are now employed by hospitals. That number will continue to grow exponentially as insurers move away from fee-for-service payment models
  • Reduced competition in metropolitan markets are producing higher prices for consumers and fewer jobs for executives
  • Consolidation tends to negatively impact innovation and improvements in quality of care, patient safety and consumer satisfaction

When you analyze the market conditions, the drivers of this consolidation appear to be:

  • For hospitals – enhanced bargaining power for negotiations with insurers
  • For physicians – a move away from fee-for-service, the advent of bundled payments and the expanding realization that hospital employment is the protection for their financial security

The historical fact is we have all been down this road before. The lofty predictions of hospital executives and board members promoting the value of these consolidations rarely produce the results they tout. Bigger is not always better. Small and nimble is sometimes a better way to ride out the market uncertainty and even prosper in turbulent times.

Wishing that things will return to the old days is not even remotely a realistic career management strategy. Healthcare executives need to look to the future, to anticipate the skill sets they will need in an environment of value-based reimbursement, community medicine and population health management.

The traditional job security of brick and mortar organizations will not be so secure. Even for employed physicians.

Here are my five career management essentials for this type of market disruption:

  1. Embrace continuing education as you never have before. Changes that we are seeing in healthcare will open new jobs for executives with different skills.
  2. Pursue additional degrees or certifications. For example, if you are gifted in mathematics and have good analytical abilities, the future may be very bright indeed.
  3. Volunteer to take on new assignments. Take a risk. The next five years will produce additional changes in job structures and titles. If you have demonstrated your ability to successfully adapt, that could very well give you a leg up when tough head count decisions are made. This is not the time to hunker down in your safe space hoping for the good old days.
  4. Have the tough family conversations now. There will be plenty of talented executives who will lose their jobs through no fault of their own.In order to continue your career, you may have to relocate. If you are a senior hospital executive in a major market like Dallas Fort Worth or Kansas City, for example and you lose your position because of a reduction in force, the chance of landing a similar job in the same market is not good.
  5. Look to the future for new opportunities. The job you have today may become an even more rewarding personally and financially in the future. The executives who can make that type of transition are those who can anticipate the change and prepare with knowledge and skills.

That’s it for this week. I invite you to follow me on my Facebook page, on Twitter and through LinkedIn.

Check out our new career management video on Saturday morning on YouTube.