You're Off to Great Places: Transitioning to Life After Fellowship
I would like to say that I am going where no physician has gone before, but in reality, many have come before me, and many more will come after. I am now, more or less, on my own after many years of studying, followed by training, both of which helped me develop mental and physical discipline. I have many mixed emotions, including confidence, fear, excitement, uncertainty, humility, and awareness, as well as questions such as, have I done enough? Have I learned enough? Have I completed my fellowship goals?
Although we’ve been adults for a while now, we are embarking on a new journey to fully develop our professional lives. Reflecting on my own journey, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was long and arduous but fulfilling. It was what I wanted and what I set out to do.
For those who will soon be following us down this transition path, I offer the following tips:
- Visualize and start early: Visualize your work-life in five to 10 years. How do you envision the structure of your days? Do you see yourself in full-time patient care, developing clinical trials, doing laboratory-based research, or teaching? What about your family and personal life? These are the questions I asked myself before applying for jobs. I wanted to continue teaching and establishing myself in the adolescent and young adult hematology arena, conducting clinical research, and starting my own family. I structured my job search around these criteria and started early. The sooner you start, the more options you’ll have from which to choose.
- Do not settle nor compromise: The best advice I received during my time in training was, “at the end of the day, it is your life; you are the one that has to live it.” Mentors and colleagues can provide their input, but what you do with your life is ultimately your decision. Avoid settling for the first job offer, even if it is your first choice. Through the application process, you will be exposed to different job combinations that you might not have considered. If possible, review your contract with a lawyer, and do not be afraid to ask for things that are important to you.
For those trainees who are about to embark on the path to life after fellowship, I don’t have many words of wisdom, because after all, I am still in the same boat. What I can advise is that you trust yourself and your decisions. With that, I leave you with quote from Dr. Seuss:
You’re off to great places,
today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
so get on your way.