5 Tips For A Successful Business Trip As A Healthcare Professional

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5 Tips For A Successful Business Trip As A Healthcare Professional

A senior occupational therapist shares her experience with work travel

In my seven years of working as an Occupational Therapist, I had never been on a business trip before. That was until earlier this month when I was presented with the opportunity to visit our new team on the Sunshine Coast. I was both nervous and excited for what the week would hold, and now that I've had time to reflect on the trip, I thought I'd share some important tips on how to make the most of a business trip. So in this article, I want to give you 5 tips that might help make your trip a success.

Plan ahead to make the most of networking opportunities

Stepping into a new environment can help expand your skills and knowledge in a variety of ways, like challenging your ways of doing things or learning about new tools. The focus of my trip was to establish new connections with service providers based in the Sunshine Coast to assist Ascend Health to expand our services. Thankfully, my skill of 'talking', or as I would prefer to call 'building meaningful connections with others', meant that we were able to build some new and exciting connections with other service providers on the Sunshine Coast.

Here are a few tips that will help you plan ahead and maximise the networking opportunities:

  • Make contact with your existing network to ask for any suggestions on who you should meet with. The best starting point is looking at your organic connections, that is someone you or your colleague has had a small amount of contact with such as when I spoke to our physiotherapist who had been working with a Support Coordinator for one of our members in the Sunshine Coast.
  • Make a list of the most important people prior to your trip. You don't have to meet with everyone, so for efficiency, work out who will help you achieve the goals for why you're traveling.
  • Set up times to meet with these people in person. Don't forget to do a little research about the people you will be meeting and learn about their work and interests.
  • The best way to get people to agree to meet with you is to offer to buy them a coffee or a meal. This breaks through the initial reservations people will have in giving up their valuable time. Worst case scenario is that both you and them willl get a free coffee or meal. 
  • Be prepared. Have an elevator pitch ready to succinctly describe who you are and what you do (and the company you represent).
  • Pro tip: Don't forget to follow up! Send a thank-you note or connect with the person. You can do this by sharing your business card or contact details.

Keep a day free in your calendar (if your employer will let you)

Whilst on your trip, keep an open mind to seeking new opportunities as they arise. If your networking is successful, your new contacts will most likely suggest other people that you can talk to. Or others might catch wind of your visit and will want to meet up. For example, I set up a last minute meeting with a support coordinator during my trip. It helped that I had kept the last day of my trip fairly free to allow for flexibility for this to happen.

Plan for training opportunities

As a senior therapist, I'm constantly looking for learning opportunities. Not only to enhance my own skills but also to increase the skills of those in the team that I support. It was exciting to meet so many highly skilled healthcare professionals working in the Sunshine Coast area that I had never met. Going forward, I look forward to collaborating with my new connections to improve the skills of the local and interstate teams at Ascend Health.

Self care is very important

Ascend Health places a lot of importance on self care.This was something that I think about a lot, and a business trip shouldn't be all business. Wherever possible, look for accommodation that is in a good location, whether that's being close to the beach, river, walking/exercise spots, or restaurants. For me, it was a scoop or two of chocolate ice cream each night and one of the best ice creameries that I've ever visited (after all, the company was paying for it!).You'll often have long days, and the work can be different and challenging to what you are used to, so it is important to take the time to look after yourself. 

Schedule time to cover your usual workload

One mistake I made was that I didn't schedule enough time in my days to attend to my usual work tasks that happen in Perth. This resulted in me having to put in some extra hours in the evening to follow up on phone calls and emails. Wherever possible, look for someone with similar experience or in a similar role to cover your usual work commitments and responsibilities whilst you are away. Not only to ensure you have some time in the evenings to relax and get into bed at a reasonable time, but also to make sure you're at your most productive best. If you can't get cover, remember to book in time throughout your day to check on your emails or to make those important phone calls for your work back home.

Some closing thoughts...

I left the Sunshine Coast feeling proud that I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone professionally and embrace new, different, and challenging experiences. I feel this only further contributes to my leadership skills as a Senior Occupational Therapist back in Perth, and a confidence in performing my part in expanding the Ascend Health model throughout Australia. 

Another thing that I'm really grateful for is the ability to strengthen the relationships with my colleagues in the Sunshine Coast. We have managed to again find some of the brightest and most enthusiastic therapists and support workers. I continue to be motivated and inspired by the Ascend model, knowing that no other company in the area is putting as much effort into empowering therapists to train and supervise support workers. It’s great to see the meaningful difference that our premium quality disability services are having throughout Australia.

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