Purpose through Passion: Charting A Career Through Legacy Mapping in Healthcare

May 10, 2023 by Lael N. Coleman, MHA, CPHQ

One of my fondest childhood memories is going to rent movies on a Friday night (Blockbuster was an especially magical place). In addition to all the candy, snacks, and movie options, there was also a kid’s package where one could participate in a recorded interview and take the recording home on a VHS tape as a keepsake (I am really aging myself here). During the interviews, store employees would ask a variety of fun questions, but one that followed me throughout my childhood and into adulthood was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Over the years, the answer to this question evolved as I experienced and learned more about the world around me. Among the many pathways I considered, I recognized a general reoccurring passion for working in pediatric healthcare but remained unsure of what my passion looked like in practice. I was often asked and tasked with mapping out what I wanted to do but cannot recall ever being asked to think about why I wanted to do it. Eventually, I ended up at Children’s National through a summer internship, which is where I was introduced to legacy mapping under the leadership of Dr. Pamela Hinds, PhD, RN, FAAN and Dr. Renee Roberts-Turner, DHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC, CPHQ.

Many might be more familiar with career mapping, which focuses primarily on goal achievement. Legacy mapping is different in that it guides the individual in also connecting meaning to their work. Through the pursuit and involvement in career and professional development activities that are meaningful to an individual, they will ideally experience more job and career satisfaction. This would also contribute to more positive outcomes and contributions for the patients, families, and communities served.

Legacy mapping begins with the baseline belief and understanding that everyone is a scholar, and through the pursuit of scholarship should always question the status quo. The ‘Declared Legacy’ or legacy statement is the first element that is completed in the mapping process. In questioning the status quo, one should also consider how they would like to contribute their unique skills to making a meaningful and lasting difference (in this case) in the field of pediatrics. When drafting a legacy statement, someone developing their individual statement would ask themselves, “What do you want to be better in pediatric healthcare because of you?”  (Hinds, et al, 2015)

After creating a statement that holds individual meaning, the next step involves going back to the beginning of the legacy map to reflect on the ‘Current Legacy Activities’. These can be job/role related, as well as anything that is part of professional development. The following section supports planning for future legacy activities. Based on those activities documented in the ‘Current Legacy Activities’ section, what are those next proposed activities that will continue supporting a meaningful pathway in achieving the legacy statement? Last, but not least, it is so important to share the completed map with a trusted mentor, advisor, and/or colleague(s). Sharing one’s map has the potential to expand networks and opportunities for continued development, as well as supports accountability.

Legacy mapping is a powerful process and tool that can be created and used at any point in a career. Whether you are just starting out in your career or a veteran employee, legacy mapping supports keeping you connected to the work in a meaningful way. Personally, this process has helped me to define my professional pathway confidently, as well as actively and successfully plan how I want to pursue it.

If you are interested in learning more about the legacy mapping process and how to get started, please do not hesitate to email Lael Coleman at lcoleman@childrensnational.org .