Five Pearls of Wisdom I Learned in Fellowship
As I approach the end of nearly a decade of medical training, I marvel at the journey that I have completed to arrive at this point. The breadth and scope of all there is to absorb in the field of hematology is quite humbling, but I hope to share with you some lessons I have learned during the course of fellowship.
- Find a mentor. The long-term impact of a good mentoring relationship can be both life and career changing. Fellowship is a time when we lay the foundation for our careers, so finding someone to support, guide, and challenge you can help you to develop on both a professional and personal level. I have found that setting up regular meetings with a mentor is critical for maintaining and strengthening the relationship.
- Become financially savvy. Many of us have had limited or no exposure to financial management. However, money shapes a lot of what we do and how we do it. On a professional level, understanding financial resources, budgeting, and navigating the financial limitations related to conducting research and to clinical care is crucial to our career development.
- Learn how to read critically. Upon entering fellowship, it can be overwhelming to consider how much reading is needed to keep up with the advances published almost daily. The essential skill to develop, however, is not memorization of all the data that exist, but learning to read the literature effectively and critically. Understanding how clinical trials and experiments are designed, the pearls and perils of statistics, and how to apply the findings to your own work are fundamental skills that will carry you for the rest of your career — whether you settle into academia, industry, or clinical practice.
- Set boundaries. Put yourself first and establish personal boundaries. As trainees, we have many outside roles — we are physicians, educators, learners, researchers, parents, family members, and spouses. Sometimes it may seem difficult to manage these tasks and to do them well, and we can be especially hard on ourselves. Practice self-compassion and cultivate those things that you enjoy. Learn how to say “no.”
- This is your tribe; relish it. Fellowship is one of the hardest periods in medical training but it is also one of the most fulfilling. It is inspiring and exhilarating to connect with people who share common interests or are great role models. Immerse yourself by going to meetings such as the ASH annual meeting, take advantage of opportunities to network with colleagues, and take advantage of all the opportunities available to trainees.