Residency is an exceedingly busy and exciting time focused on preparing us to enter the workforce and make a meaningful contribution to our patients’ lives and maybe even our specialty overall. Three years go by in an instant, so no surprise that certain integral but understated elements are needed to move out of the protective cocoon of residency into the real world. Something that I know a few of my colleagues that have gone into private practice wished they had thought about before graduating was how to stay connected: As a resident you receive every journal, are notified about every conference, hear about every opportunity…. you literally have your finger on the pulse of dermatology. And then you graduate. Of course staying in academics as I have is one way to stay connected, but the reality is that the majority of the workforce is out in the trenches in the community. Many graduates experience separation anxiety during this period, though truth be told it is easy to stay in the know…if you actually know how:
• Make sure to change your address for all your subscriptions and memberships. Sounds simple but graduation time is very busy and distracting.
• Volunteer at your local program (lectures, resident clinics, host residents in your practice) and get on staff. Go to your city or state dermatology society meetings and get involved.
• Attend smaller or regional meetings to actually have an opportunity to network – while AAD is a very important and enjoyable meeting, it is also Crazy Town, USA with a million and one programs and events going on all at once, making interactions with colleagues and industry difficult.
Reach out and touch someone…. well not literally. If you share interests with a more senior dermatologist on the national stage, I can promise 9 out of 10 times they will be receptive to your olive branch and welcome the opportunity to mentor and guide you in their area. Truthfully, one mentor is not enough. Establish a brain trust, as at the end of the day it’s who you know, and your mentors will help you build your career from speaking opportunities to research to even just some basic hand holding. We are very fortunate that the dermatology community is comprised of hard working, dedicated, and fun individuals.