Docs, it's time to transition
From resident/fellow → attending...finally!
From MS (Medical Student) → MD (Medical Doctor)...congratulations!
As “physicians educating physicians,” we’ve been in your shoes.
Whether you are one of the thousands who are transitioning into your first position as a practicing physician, or if you are one of those fortunate thousands who matched into a coveted residency spot, now is a good time to pause, take a deep breath and assess. It's important not only to address the fundamental questions – housing, transportation, paying bills (picture the foundation of the pyramid foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) – but also the larger questions. Your life will be built on the CREATING A SOLID FOUNDATION in these early years as a physician, particularly in areas that we are not taught about in medical school or training.
What are we referring to? Making sound career, business/practice, and financial decisions are the key areas that ALL new docs (irrespective of specialty or practice type) need to strategically learn about and plan for as early in your career as possible.
Here’s where you can begin right now by understanding that a successful, satisfying career in medicine is built on a balanced approach to these four areas:
Continuing your education (news flash - we are career nerds, i.e. lifelong learners)
Building professional relationships (start now, don’t wait)
Problem-solving through research and innovation (and even entrepreneurship), and
Remaining philanthropic throughout our careers.
These four areas may take on different levels of prominence over the course of your medical career, but they should all be considered as you transition into the next phase of your career.
While the bulk of your time as a resident will be dedicated to learning, it's not too early to begin cultivating professional relationships, thinking about new ways to solve problems and giving back to your community. Some ideas to get you started:
Continuing your education. This will always be required of you as a physician at every level. From amassing the requisite number of Continuing Medical Education credits to maintain your license while in practice, or while studying for your annual In-Training examination for your specialty (which you want to do well on in preparation for your specialty boards), the career nerd in you will forever be satisfied because there is always more to learn.
However, as a new physician, there is more for you to master outside of the known entity of studying.
Professional relationships. Establishing and maintaining healthy professional relationships is critical. With whom, you might ask - with physicians at all levels in various specialties, with hospital executives, with community members, with your specialty association leaders, and the goal is to build your network of professionals who will serve as mentors, sponsors, sources of referrals and as supporters for you throughout your career, and you can do the same for them.
Consider building your communications skill set in order to help you cultivate professional relationships by:
- Returning phone calls, texts and emails promptly
- Using a more formal tone and language (because you don’t know the other person, yet!)
- Have face-to-face conversations over coffee or lunch monthly
- Writing thank you notes (handwritten thank yous appreciated the most)
Research and innovation. Young clinicians have fresh eyes; they are often able to identify opportunities in their respective fields and create solutions. You can:
- Identify voids and fill them by keeping your eyes open and looking for problems to solve innovatively
- Build relationships with researchers who successfully publish and secure funding
- Jumpstart your creative process by listening to podcasts or reading books that challenge your problem-solving approach
Philanthropy. With school debt prominent on our minds, giving back might seem impossible and impractical, but financial contributions aren't the only way to give; new physicians and new residents have valuable skills to offer. Consider:
- Giving a lecture at your medical school, former residency program or local community centers
- Volunteering your clinical skills at a shelter or clinic
- Participating in local health fairs
Taking just a small amount of time to begin building all these areas into your life now will lead you to a more balanced, satisfying career as a physician later.
We are “Physicians Educating Physicians.” Beyond the Exam Room is here to support you!