CanMEDS Manager
Career Management

Career Management



You have already made significant decisions about your career management - you have chosen medicine and a specific area within medicine.



How did you decide to pursue medicine?

What appealed to you about medicine?

What experiences led you to consider medicine or confirmed your interest?


What made you choose the area of medicine that you are in?


Why did you choose to do your residency here?

The decision to go into medicine is often made early, and specialty choice is being made earlier and earlier in ones medical career - and is often based on rather soft criteria at best. What is appealing at 25 might not be so at 45. We hope this information will help you to think about who you are as a person and how to find the best career fit in medicine so that you can have a rewarding, meaningful and satisfying career that will work for you now and through whatever changes life has in store for you.


It is not the responsibility of your specialty to provide a career path, nor do you need to accept the path of most people in  your specialty - you have choices, but you need to know what you want and what you need in order to manage your own career.  A satisfying career is more than excelling in a discipline.

WARNING: If you are not happy in your present programme or it does not feel like the good fit you thought it would - take action!  Talk to people in practice in your field - Can you expect it to change? Are there paths within the specialty that will be a good fit for you? Talk to senior residents, talk to trusted mentors and colleagues, talk to your programme director. 


Our choices are based on many things, interests, experiences, opportunities and practicalities.  Within the limits of these we pursue our goals and dreams.  Our choices reflect our values and shape our direction. You can take an active approach and set goals, make plans and try to shape your future. What do you want, what are the steps involved in getting there?


Or you can be more passive and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves and go with the flow.

There are many things we cannot control and our needs, interests and goals change over time - too much of one of these approaches may result in frustration and disappointment.

Strive to know yourself:

  • who am I?

  • what am I good at ?

  • What do I want/need?

  • What are the things that only I can do?



The following questions are from a career management guide for professionals in the financial sector, but they are just as relevant for you, as residents, to consider as you make decisions that will shape your working life and career.[1]



Who are your family and friends?

How would they describe you?


What are your significant life shaping events, motivations and accomplishments?


What gives you the greatest sense of meaning, fulfillment, and satisfaction?

How do you intend to make this a part of your future?


How do you want to be remembered?

How can you shape your career to live this kind of life?


Who have been the most influential people in your life?


What have been the most critical events in your life?


When did you learn the most about yourself?


When did you learn the most professionally?


Review your answers above, what long term themes, patterns, and motivations can you find?

What are the implications of the themes,patterns and motivations to your career? Future learning?



After years of deferral of gratification this can be difficult - getting in to medical school and the residency programme of your choice can demand a lot from you and do not encourage you to be well rounded and to think about privileging other things in your life.


Get the support you need and deserve to make the right decisions for you:

  • be active and intentional about it

  • have a plan

  • have goals and dreams

  • solicit feedback and advise

  • learn new things

  • have mentors

  • build on success

  • do what is your passion

  • do what has meaning for you

  • do what is congruent for yourself



Unstable economic times have made it necessary for people in other sectors to be more aware of career management than we in medicine might be.  For most physicians ongoing career management tends to be at the level of CME/CPD requirements and occasionally involves retraining or changing positions and moving into administration roles. Rarely do physicians need to maintain a ’competitive edge’ once established in practice. The threat of downsizing has not hit us; rather we are in the midst of an acute on chronic shortage of health care professionals so career management takes on a different meaning for physicians. What we share in common with other sectors is constant change, and the need to be able to respond to it.


As the rate of new knowledge in medicine has accelerated, and continues to accelerate, medical education has become more about learning how to learn and less about the acquisition of facts.  Gone are the days of acquiring a care body of knowledge in medical school that will last a career. Adaptability in "thinking, attitudes, skills, abilities, and behaviour in response" to change [1] will benefit physicians in a moving sea of information and a constantly changing political and organizational environment. In order to take on leadership and management roles physicians need to develop more than technical expertise but need also interpersonal, collaborative and organizational skills.




1. Career Management Guide, Certified Management Accountants of Canada. accessed September 21, 2011

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