As someone currently immersed in this process, I have learned a few lessons along the way — some old made new again and others understood for the first time. Each of us has a unique way of sorting through information and making decisions, and for many of us a constant inner dialogue develops inside our own minds throughout this process. Below are five lessons that I find helpful, but of which I often need a little reminding:
1. Listen more, talk less.
No one likes a know-it-all. As smart as you feel after passing your boards, experience, learned from colleagues and from time, can and will always teach you more if you let it.
2. Keep your options open.
Take your time to figure out what practice environment works best for you (academic vs. private, employee vs. partner vs. single practitioner vs. independent contractor, etc.). It’s normal to not know exactly what you want, and it’s okay to move on if an opportunity just isn’t the right fit.
3. Remain objective; business isn’t personal.
Consult an attorney for advice regarding contracts and negotiations, as it not only provides expertise but also provides third-party objectivity that your mom or spouse cannot.
4. But… don’t forget to involve your family, spouse, or anyone whom you love in these decisions.
You’ll be happier professionally if you take care of your life personally.
5. Compromise for mutual gain, not self-sacrifice or people pleasing.
It can be somewhat difficult to leave behind the mindset of a resident or fellow, but you’ve been a patient student and paid your dues. It’s not about making best friends, and respect is best if mutual. Look for like-minded colleagues with whom you can engage in open, reasonable discussion, as a healthy work environment will benefit all involved, most importantly the patients.