“Always say ‘yes’”
Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD
Associate professor of dermatology, residency program director, director of translational research, director of the supportive oncodermatology clinic, department of dermatology at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences
For many coming out of residency, there is a sudden blackout going from being in an academic center to which any and all information, invitations, and resources are at one’s beckon call to the real world. Many of the requests to attend meetings—for free mind you—and serve on committees, resident-specific grants and awards, all the journals, the magazines suddenly disappear. Well it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, if you plan for the winter of the real world, the transition can be effortless, but plan you must.
One general philosophy to abide by early in one's career is always say ‘yes.’ It is not simply FOMO, though this certainly helps one jump on every career advancing opportunity, but truthfully career development can and should start on day zero of residency. Use every opportunity to gain mentors, build networks, and prove your worth.
I certainly took advantage of many of the options as a resident, applying for multiple grants and awards, attending as many conferences within reason and using the time spent there wisely—honestly I wish I did more. Looking at your residency as more then simply training in dermatology will allow you to bust out into the community well-armed to combat the disconnect once your trainee cord is cut. Simply graduating residency is not enough. You need to be hungry for more. You need to put in the work. Serve for the love of service. Yes, you are a specialist but being board-eligible/board-certified does not make you an expert among your peers—even if you have 1,000 followers on Instagram. Just like with an NIH grant, you already need a track record to build a track record. Don't expect handouts, but if you start early, build your brain trust, demonstrate your willingness to work hard and invest your time, the spoils will follow.