Explain Your Nonclinical Work
It’s important to explain your nonclinical roles to residency trainees. Hospitalists increasingly take on numerous administrative, educational, and leadership roles and responsibilities. Whether you are leading a quality improvement effort, interfacing with hospital operations, or running a medical student clerkship, it is crucial that physicians-in-training understand the diverse opportunities within hospital medicine to achieve a healthy work-life balance and avoid clinical burnout.
If you are involved with quality improvement projects at your institution, enlist the help of an interested resident or student. Because student rotations are frequent, their prior experience may be scant and their time limited. So make sure the projects have definite goals and are easily accomplished. Ensure that the projects provide reasonable educational value and experience within a finite time. Lay out explicit goals at the beginning of the project, ask for frequent updates, and then recap the experience and any concrete accomplishments to provide structure and expectations for the process.
For example, the University of California at San Francisco Hospitalist Group is spearheading an educational initiative in which residents learn about both the theory and practice of quality improvement through choosing a project and working with a mentor to design, implement, and measure the results of a quality improvement initiative.
Share Your Passion
In addition to showcasing your clinical and nonclinical activities, share your passion about hospital medicine. Reflect on the reasons you entered hospital medicine, as well as your thoughts on the pros and cons of the field. Perhaps you were drawn to hospital medicine because of a desire to take care of acutely ill patients, or to work on improving the quality of a medical system, or because of a more controllable work schedule with competitive compensation.
In some cases, it may have been a particular interest in medical ethics, palliative care, geriatrics, or perioperative care. Sharing your enthusiasm is the best way to cultivate reciprocal interest. Medical students and residents closely observe your attitudes toward your career, your job satisfaction, and your work-life balance. In addition to mentoring those already entering a medical career, there are endless opportunities to outreach to younger students, including those in high school and college. Many local schools and community organizations offer mentorship programs to area students. Engaging in an informal discussion about your career at a social or community event with younger students can be incredibly rewarding. Younger students often lack realistic career experiences and access to career-specific role models on which to base informed decisions. Although they may express an interest in science or medicine, they may not know how long the training process is or the importance of good grades.
Take a moment to inquire about career interests and explain what a hospitalist is; this can be invaluable in promoting understanding and cultivating interest into the field. More structured interactions with hospitalists can also prepare students for successful entry into the medical field. The University of Chicago Hospitalists, for example, host high-achieving Chicago public school juniors in a summer clinical and research enrichment program in hospital-based medicine called TEACH Research.
Offer Advice and Assistance
Finding your first job can be a nerve-racking situation. Sharing your advice on the process with trainees is always appreciated. For instance, they are interested in hearing how you decided to become a hospitalist and what you did to secure your position.
Offer to meet with them and review their career interests, goals, and curriculum vitae. If you hear of job openings and opportunities, inform the community of trainees by contacting program directors or chief residents at residency programs. Many residency program directors showcase available opportunities in their house-staff office or direct such opportunities to interested residents. Some residency programs invite community-based physicians to give residents insight on securing their first job. This process is particularly foreign to medical trainees who have never had to negotiate such things as benefit packages, compensation, or call schedule. Your candid thoughts on what to expect and how to approach the process are invaluable.