Not sure where to start? A mentor can help. Look at the well-respected leaders in your department and institution, and take note of how each of these people always talk about their mentors and the role they played in crystallizing their career paths. Good mentors steer you toward other like-minded professionals. They help you navigate the complex relationships that are at the base of a successful networking strategy. A wise strategy is to find multiple mentors who serve different purposes in your career; this usually leads to untold opportunities.
Can’t find a suitable mentor at the workplace? Fear not. Consider networking at local, regional, and national society meetings (www.hospitalmedicine.org/events). When the opportunity arises, do more than just attend the clinical sessions during these meetings. Learn which committees are available through the various societies and contact their leaders to express interest in joining next year’s group. Your fellow committee members will be a natural place to practice your networking skills. High-quality relationships made during this time have the potential to grow, and they could lead to more opportunities as your career progresses.
No. 5: Take Calculated Risks
This might sound simple enough, but it is not easy. It is uncomfortable to make mistakes in front of a public audience (and believe me, we all make mistakes). But you will be successful, too, and you must learn how to promote yourself during these times.
Challenge yourself by attending SHM’s Academic Hospitalist Academy (www.academichospitalist.org), or by taking on that project discussed at the last committee meeting. Say yes to your mentor when they learn your passion is QI and appropriately volunteer you to lead a resident research project. Submit your most recent project to an abstract competition, such as SHM’s Research, Innovation, and Clinical Vignettes (RIV) competition. Before you go, research others in your field with similar interests and seek them out during the meeting to share your experiences. Be ready to explain your pitfalls as well, and use this as an opportunity to learn from experienced colleagues.
Whether it is speaking in front of a group of strangers at the academy, giving a presentation to your colleagues, or meeting HM leaders at the national meeting, opportunities abound and often pay off in the long run.
No. 6: Ready For Change
Wait, change? Back up to tip No. 2. I know you’re saying, “But I’m following my passion.” Remember that, fresh out of residency, your interests likely are somewhat different than those of your future self. Thus, as the saying goes, the only thing that is certain is change.
Through networking and putting yourself in new positions, you will discover a world that was never revealed to you in residency. Case in point: my friend and colleague Dr. H. As a chief resident, Dr. H was exposed to a year of educational opportunities before she embarked on a hospitalist career. Education seemed like a natural fit in her first year as a hospitalist. In fact, she never imagined that it would be her experience with the inner workings of her hospital’s electronic medical record (EMR) during her chief year that would catapult her career as the physician director for information services. Yes, she is now a hospitalist-administrator. The bottom line: Remain resilient and ready to take up that next interesting opportunity.
Residency provides you with the skills to be a confident and effective clinician. But as residency comes to a close, think about what really drives you. Where do you see yourself in five years? How about 10 years?
Plot your course to live your passion at work every day; as you start your new job, find, refine, and define your niche.