Finishing residency was definitely the hardest thing that you dealt with in your medical career but grinding through your fellowship will be even harder. From applications, dealing with the results of your fellowship match, and finally attaining the fellowship status, it’s easy to go through it with an outlook for survival.
As a medical professional, you already know that even in the practice and application of medicine, surviving is not always the goal but rather a life of quality. The same with going through fellowship, your profession, personal relationship, and career milestones should not only be present for the purpose of survival. So how can you thrive in your much-awaited medical career advancement? Here are some ways to make the most out of your medical fellowship:
As a fellow, you’ll be able to access a lot of medical opportunities that you won’t get as a resident. Take advantage of it to hone your skills and build up your experience. Look for organizations that do work or research similar to your fellowship program and start from there.
Learning about new sectors in medical practice is important to open up a lot of opportunities for you. Invest in the constant change of fellowship. Meet new people. Whether it’s your colleagues or finding a mentor, it’s important to build a network where you can lead each other to the right career path. It’s common for fellows to feel stuck in the same thing so having a reliable network at your expense will help you open a lot of possibilities for your group.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the same person from your residency days or a new one, having a mentor will help you go through fellowship. Having an effective mentor-mentee relationship has always been associated with exceptional career success and satisfaction in medicine. So it’s important to find one that will meet the expectations to produce a productive mentoring relationship.
Your mentor must be altruistic when it comes to teaching. Look for someone interested to be a mentor. That person should also have the ability and the willingness to share the ins and outs of your field. Honesty and candor are crucial when giving feedback and guidance.
Having a mentor doesn’t mean that you stop developing your personal vision and goals. Your time in the fellowship will provide you the perfect phase in your medical career to create your own learning process that is flexible and specific to your professional interests and needs.
This means that you should incorporate self-directed learning on top of your program. Take responsibility for the learning that occurs where you can practice self-reflection and self-assessment. Set your own intentions and personal expectations. Your program directors and managers are there to guide you throughout the entire process of fellowship but ultimately, you’re the one responsible for your learning.
While self-improvement is important as a fellow, your responsibility in the medical field increases especially to those who are below your rank. Whether you’ll conduct future researches after fellowship, get involved in scholarship. Gain experience in a higher range of research, writing, and teaching. That way, you’re contributing to life-long learning that is much needed in medicine. Think of it as a way of giving back to the culture of knowledge that you benefited during your residency.
Don’t wait until the end of your fellowship to join local and national subspecialty professional societies. Getting involved with multiple organizations will help you bring rapport inside and outside of the hospital community. It’s also a great way to acquire many opportunities and resources for those who are just starting their fellowship.
It’s no secret that in the medical field, professionals tend to be more vicious as you climb up the hierarchy. As a fellow, you have a certain degree of leverage over the interns and the residents. This is where proper management comes in.
Always remember that upward management is a form of empowerment. The way that you want to be properly mentored should be your attitude in mentoring. A proper way of leveraging your power is a management built out of promoting one’s own sense of dignity and capacity.
Highlighting the power asymmetry makes a bad workplace and as a fellow, it’s your responsibility to promote an environment for progressive learning. A medical career is harsh in itself and cultivating a culture of stuck-up management won’t make you, or your mentees great doctors.
Your role in maintaining your health cannot be overemphasized. The demands of fellowship will knock down anyone who isn’t at top of their game and having poor health won’t make your case any easier. Build your physical, emotional, and mental resilience. Burnouts, overworking, and even depression is becoming more and more common among medical professionals as the competition and intensity of practice increases.
Take care of your physical health by making sure that you do the same advice you give to your patients as much as possible. Get enough sleep whenever your schedule permits. It’s ideal to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day but not everyone can fit that to their schedule so look for alternative ways to make up for it. Take the stairs in the morning or just walk around.
Your emotional and mental health is just as important as your physical condition. Learn how to manage your stress levels by a proper organization so you won’t get overwhelmed with work. Take advantage of all the resources that your institution is offering to keep their medical staffs in their prime condition.
It’s always great to have a support system at work so stick with your colleagues. Maybe all of you are experiencing a hard and stressful time at work but going through it together will lessen the impacts of it individually. Stay connected with your family and friends even if it seems impossible to do so with the demands of your schedule. Going through fellowship is a behemoth challenge to take on so you must stay on top of yourself so you can make the most out of your program.