By now, it’s clear that 2020 was the most challenging and unexpected year that the modern orthopedic device industry has experienced. From sudden stops in elective surgeries to significant disruptions in supply chains, we’re emerging from a year we’ll never forget, no matter how much we may like to.
However, countless lessons can be learned from the unprecedented time that we’re still living through, especially for those who seek to evolve their professional skillsets in 2021. In fact, according to Howard Levy, Vice President of Global Sourcing Instruments and Trauma at Zimmer Biomet, working from home and skipping the commute makes this a particularly good time for orthopedic device professionals to learn new skills and develop their careers.
The following three career development advice pieces are gleaned from the Orthopedic Roundtable we held with our Advisory Board in mid-2020. The conversation was themed around working in the face of uncertainty.
Develop a Plan to Enhance Your Skillsets
“It’s a challenging time professionally as well as personally for people,” Levy acknowledged during the roundtable. Keeping immense COVID-related challenges in mind, he advised ambitious orthopedic device professionals to make the most out of any extra time they may have realized if they’re not commuting or traveling for work.
“Are there things you can do to learn?” Levy asked before suggesting pursuit of an MBA or becoming certified in project management through digital training courses as worthy career development examples.
According to Levy, professionally evolving during this challenging period requires resilience, planning and a willingness to ask how to get the most out of situations that are anything but ideal.
Commit to Enhancing Communication
Regulatory Consultant Sharon Starowicz pressed the need to stay connected and engaged through clear and consistent communication when it may not be convenient.
“Keep the lines of communication not only open within your company, but also with the regulators as well,” Starowicz said, adding that this best practice is essential to keeping internal and external teams aligned.
The best practices of asking questions and staying engaged extend to all lines of work. Clear communication not only staves off problems, but also provides a better shot at identifying and pursuing opportunities.
Keep Connected and Up to Date on the Industry
“I’ve talked to a lot of different people in the last four to six months, and I have seen a lot of developments both in manufacturing techniques and materials available. And if I weren’t talking to people, I wouldn’t have come across these things,” said Dale Tempco, an Industry Advisor.
Like Levy’s recommendation, Tempco advised orthopedic device professionals to use their time wisely by staying connected to their peers and informed on what’s happening in their industry. He noted leveraging industry-focused publications, webinars and societies.
“Whether it’s EU MDR [regulations] that are changing or new materials that are available, people are continuing to do work,” Tempco said. “Everything hasn’t stalled out.”
Stagnation is the enemy, said Tyber Medical President and CEO Jeff Tyber, adding that this unprecedented time will eventually come to pass.
Stay engaged and form a plan that, COVID or no COVID, pushes you to advance your skills and be better equipped in 2021.