Reach Your Career Goals With Professional Development

Growing in your career requires continuously learning. This is especially true when transitioning settings, areas of expertise, or populations treated. Having a plan for obtaining professional development is an important step.

A well-thought-out professional development plan can help you position yourself for success by giving you the knowledge and tools to adapt—particularly during times of crisis. This can be easier said than done. Start by mapping out your plan in small, manageable steps. Once you have a plan, you’ll have a clear direction on how to move forward and keep your momentum. Here are five steps for creating your professional development plan:

Step 1: Assess

Take an inventory of your current situation. What are your immediate and long-term needs, combined with your strengths, weaknesses, and interests?  

Start with these three questions:   

  • What are your professional goals?
  • Are there circumstances that are driving this change or need to gain new skills?
  • Where do you want to be in 1 year? in 5 years?

As you consider these questions, Melissa Page, MS, CCC-SLP, ACC, author of ASHA’s new coaching book, This SLP Life: Powerful Self-Care Practices to Embrace Change, recommends that you beware of your inner critic—that voice that wants you to stay where you are and warns against change. Overcoming your inner critic starts with recognizing it and then managing it by calling on something more powerful: your values.

Once you establish your short- and long-term goals, aligned with your values, it’s time to drill down and identify gaps in your knowledge and skillset that you’ll need to fill to get where you want to go.

Step 2: Identify

Based on your goals, determine the skills and expertise that you need and what areas in which you need to gain knowledge. For example, if you’ve been thrust into telepractice, a course on strategies for working with students remotely may be what you need now. ASHA offers telepractice courses that can help you effectively pivot your services from in-person to online. Or, thinking long term, maybe you currently work with infants and young children in early intervention, but now you want to move into an elementary school setting. Prioritize your learning based on what has the highest value toward meeting your immediate and longer-term learning goals.

Step 3: Strategize

Now that you know what you want to learn, it’s time to figure out how to go about it. Consider what type of learner you are:

  • How much time can you devote to learning?
  • Do you like to learn in bigger chunks or short segments?
  • Do you prefer deep-diving into a topic or getting a general overview?

Whether you have 2 hours a month or a chunk of several days or weeks to engage in learning, there are learning opportunities that provide what you need when you need it.

Step 4: Research Learning Options

There are endless learning options. However, online learning is taking center stage during the current public health crisis. ASHA offers numerous online resources such as the Practice Portal, Evidence Maps, and numerous CE courses and events. One option to consider is the ASHA Learning Pass, which gives you unlimited access to ASHA’s extensive catalog of online content—more than 350 CE courses—for one annual fee. The ASHA Learning Pass lets you plan your learning journey and choose the courses that are right for you—so you can learn when, where, and how you want.

Step 5: Implement

Put your plan into action by digging into those online courses. Take the information you learn, and see how it can help you in your current situation—and in the future. Be sure to revisit your plan regularly so that, as your situation and goals change, you can update your professional development plan.

Now, start learning!