During Program Year 4, start to compile your “teaching dossier.” This is a file of your academic and research activities, including presentations (oral or poster), teaching sessions (formal and informal), and mentoring of junior trainees. Activities can be tracked on a spreadsheet and copies of supportive documents (e.g., presentation announcements, evaluations) can be filed in hard copy. Your teaching dossier can be used on the interview trail. Documentation of teaching skills will be of particular importance in a clinician-educator career track but will be required in any academic position.
Program Year 3 Program Year 4 Program Year 5
July - December
Start exploring the different career paths in hematology: Consider the pros and cons of academic versus community practice, keeping in mind that certain career paths will require additional training. Balance your academic and clinical interests with your goals in life. Engage in discussions with your peers, mentor, supervisors, and/or advisor. All training sites have a one month rotation in community hematology mandated by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. If possible, try to have the rotation at the end of PGY4 or after. By that time, you would have passed your Royal College Internal Medicine examination, have some confidence in your clinical skills, and be able to appreciate more of the community experience. The community hematology rotation may also provide you with networking and job opportunities.
Identify an advisor: If not assigned to you at the beginning of your fellowship, ask your program director to assist in the identification of an advisor for your first year of training. The role of this advisor would be to serve as a resource to you as you begin to consider career pathways and research careers. As your plans become more focused, the advisor should also be able to suggest potential mentors to you for subsequent training.
- Abstract for submission to ASH annual meeting: Be sure to verify the requirements and deadline on the ASH website.
- Identify a mentor: Begin meeting and gathering information on potential mentors, and narrow your choices by the spring of your first year so that you may, ultimately, find the best mentor for your career goals. Try to have your mentor identified by the spring of your PGY4 so that you may begin to work with your mentor on outlining a specific research project. Before you meet with a potential mentor, do your homework. Know what the faculty member's research focus is, review at least one of his/her recent publications, and research the publication track record of other fellows who have worked with this mentor. Talk to other fellows who have worked with this faculty member to determine how supportive the mentor was and the degree of guidance offered to trainees. Be sure to prepare a list of questions to ask potential mentors ahead of time.
- Identify a research project: since hematology residency is only two years, ideally the project should be of interest to you and is practical to complete within two years. Consider research methodologies that can be completed within this timeframe, such as retrospective studies, cross-sectional analysis, systematic review, and case series. Give yourself plenty of lead time to design the study as research ethics board application, material transfer agreement, or data acquisition from established clinical database and registries take a very long time to be approved or processed.
- Consider a small secondary project if your primary project will take over a year to complete. It may lead to an abstract, poster, or manuscript. Writing a review article or book chapter that will enhance your knowledge of your field may be useful, but these publications are usually not peer-reviewed. Since they may not be regarded as highly as peer-reviewed publications, you may want to limit such projects. Preparing clinical protocols or research proposals may strengthen your protocol writing skills early on. The best thing of course is that hopefully by the time you finish your training you are more comfortable in protocol writing and possibly conduct it on your own either in your home institution or in another facility.
- Grants and Funding: Although self-funding is not required in a Royal College accredited program such as hematology, and grants won’t increase your salary, obtaining research grants early will help to establish your track record as an academician. Learning how to write grants early on may also allow you to identify particular areas of grant writing that you may need additional training on. ASH has created a Grants Clearinghouse of funding opportunities available to trainees and helpful tips for navigating the universe of funding sources. The Grants & Funding section on the Training Page of the ASH website contains resources on trainee grant opportunities. Keep in mind that some grants are specific to US trainees only. Details on funding specific to Canadian trainees and researchers will be included in the future.
- Preparation for the Royal College Internal Medicine Examination: Begin to gather study materials for the exam and form study groups with your peers. Start meeting regularly to get a feel of the group dynamics. Different trainees have different studying habits and schedules. Some trainees change study groups because of differing habits so it's crucial to identify a fit early on.
- Attend the ASH annual meeting: The ASH annual meeting offers a plethora of opportunities to network, and have activities and amenities specifically designed for trainees, such as trainee lounge, Trainee Day, career-development lunch session, etc. This is also good time for you to explore different career options as you will be meeting clinicians and scientists from different areas of hematology either formally (e.g., career-development lunch sessions, meet-the-expert sessions) or informally (poster sessions). Be sure to attend the Trainee Welcome Reception for tips on how to navigate the meeting.
January - June
This will be a very busy period of time as you balance between hematology rotations and studying for your Royal College examination for certification in internal medicine. Keep in mind that there are two components to the exam: written (multiple choice) and oral (scenarios and physical examination) so pace yourself and have a study schedule. The written component is usually the first week of April and the oral component is either in May or June (depending on individual assignment by the Royal College). Be sure to not neglect your hematology rotations while preparing for the exam.
- Apply for independent practice license and locum positions: Once you have satisfied all the requirements, you can apply for an independent practice license, billing code, and locum positions. The Canadian Medical Association and many provincial house staff organizations have resources that can help you with common questions such as finding a locum position. While it may be tempting to frequently locum for additional income, be sure that you are not doing so at the expense of your hematology training and other priorities in life.
- Plan electives: After your first year of training, you will start to recognize areas of interest and weakness where you may want to spend additional elective time before completion of your training.
- Registration deadline for the Royal College internal medicine examination: Verify with the College as the dates change form year to year.
Program Year 3 Program Year 4 Program Year 5
back to top