So this is the third installation of Advice to the Graduating Resident. Again, many 3rd year residents will be graduating in just a few short months and taking on their first jobs as attending physicians. I was lucky enough to sit down with the amazing Victoria Brazil and pick her brain. She gave some valuable words of wisdom, which I will try and summarize in this post, but for the full advice, be sure to checkout the podcast.
Advice to the Graduating EM Resident – Victoria Brazil
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
Gold Coast, Australia
What 3 things would you tell yourself when you graduated residency?
- Do Things That Make you Happy: This will start off as clinical work early in your career. Happiness will exude generosity to the team you are working with as well as your patients. It is important to keep a barometer on your happiness throughout your career to ensure that you end your career as happy as you start it. Also, remember it is important to be happy in your personal life as well. Unhappiness in your career can spill over into your personal life and vice versa. It is also important to remember that a lot of success in your career can also detract from your personal life.
- Do Things That Make a Difference: Do things that will make a contribution to the specialty and your patients. It is important to ask, who is benefiting from the activity you are currently doing. Things that benefit others will be much more sustainable and simply give you more job satisfaction.
- Do Things With Integrity and a Sense of Humor: We all have a responsibility as physicians to do things the right way. It is more important to find the path to good character than the path to a really good job or place. You will always be a role model to someone even if you don’t realize that you are. It is important to be yourself and be genuine, but also have a sense of humor about yourself. As a faculty physician there will always be eyes and ears looking and listening to you.
What are the 3 biggest mistakes you see new EM graduates making?
- Suffering from Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): As a new grad you will have a lot of energy and want to conquer the world so to speak. You will see people writing blogs, recording podcasts, writing journal articles, being researchers, and being educators. Somehow new grads feel like they should be doing all those things too. Busy people are focused and not doing everything. Its a mistake to think that people are doing everything so you have to do it too. Early on in your career, maintain a broad and wide lookout for opportunities, but also start to look for some themes to help set a framework of what things you say yes and no to. Its ok to do things that are different from whatever track your on, but you don’t have to do 10 things that are different from your track. One secret of highly successful people is being highly selective about the activities they participate in.
- Choosing Things to Get Position/Promotion: Don’t select things to work on for just position and promotion, but instead consider selecting things for the people you will work with. Moving up the academic ladder to positions of responsibility (i.e. program director, dean, medical director, etc…) can hamper your ability to achieve things. This is not to say that if your goal is to take on one of these positions, that you shouldn’t. Instead, just make sure that you are being rigorous about evaluating taking on a position of responsibility. In other words is this what is expected of you or what you want to do.
- Not Having Enough Mentors & Feedback: It is important early on in your career to develop a personal network of mentors. You should seek out multiple mentors so you can get advice on different aspects of your career. You will quickly become stagnant in your development without others helping push you and giving you feedback.
Bonus Question: When do you know when your career in emergency medicine is over?
As your career progresses you will begin to have distractions (i.e ultrasound, education, simulation, etc…) and in some aspects of your career you may not be as sharp as you were when you first started. Also, its important to think about how long do you keep doing clinical work. Do you want to be working overnight shifts dealing with intoxicated patients when you are 50 to 60 years of age? It is important to start developing some other skills early in your career to prepare for the next phase after your clinical career.
“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
If you have your own advice for graduating residents, or thoughts on the topics discussed above, be sure to leave us your comments below.