American Society of Hematology

First Year of Fellowship: Survival Tips

Sara Taveras Alam, MD Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Each transition in your medical career has been full of unique challenges that you have mastered to get where you are today. As you acclimate to your new role, here are a few recommendations.

Spearhead your education and prepare a solid foundation. Your path is yours to carve; keep in mind that things may look different depending on the type of practice you envision for yourself. Your fellowship program and ASH serve as conduits to help your vision become a reality, and you should explore the special opportunities available to you during this time.

Cultivate big-picture thinking, and determine your interests by ensuring exposure in different areas. Make the best of daily clinical work by reviewing and saving landmark articles and guidelines relevant to the cases you are seeing day-to-day. These will come in handy throughout your fellowship.

Plan for long-term success with the hematology career planner. Align your goals with your actions, and keep track of your progress. Take advantage of ASH Fundamentals for Hematology Fellows (FHF), ASH-a-Palooza at the ASH annual meeting, the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute, and the ASH Translational Research Training in Hematology program.

Look for mentors early on, and be a good mentee. Be proactive. Meet with multiple faculty members to identify the best fit; different mentors for different areas and projects may be needed. Consider personality, accessibility, and mentorship track record along with area of interest within hematology. Prioritize physicians with careers that you want to mimic that may provide guidance in both professional and personal levels.

As a mentee, become familiar with mentee missteps and their potential solutions.1 Do not overcommit, prioritize quality over quantity, set up regular meetings with clear agendas, and seek feedback. You are still learning, and asking for help is critical.

Take care of yourself and each other. Nobody understands what you are going through more than your co-fellows. For several months, you might feel as though you are new, especially if your training involves multiple institutions and systems. Nowadays, many fellows are returning to training after spending time as a hospitalist or in research, and might face challenges in reacclimating to a clinical position under supervision.

You are in a field in which compassion toward others is abundant, but don’t forget to have compassion for yourself. Do your very best, but establish boundaries between your work life and your home life. Connect with your co-fellows on a personal level, and support each other. Building resilience is critical to your success.

References

  1. Vaughn V, Saint S, Chopra V Mentee missteps: tales from the academic trenches. JAMA. 2017 317:475-476.
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