‘Tis the Season: Tips For Graduating FITs

Dec 16, 2015 | Payal Kohli, MD
Career Development

The holiday season represents, in some ways, a microcosm of the cardiology fellowship training. On one hand, we are inundated with positive emotions such as happiness, contentment and gratitude (similar to those we feel during our fellowship when learning a new skill or receiving praise from a grateful patient). On the other hand, the holidays can mean materialism and stress, just like what we may feel when looking for a new job or struggling to keep up with the onerous demands of cardiology fellowship.

Finding yourself in the midst of a job hunt at this time of year can also be incredibly daunting. While we find ourselves grateful for the light nearing the end of that long tunnel of medical training, we are also gripped with anxiety and apprehension about the next big journey in our lives. Again, conflicting emotions arise!

The biggest piece of advice I can offer at this time of year is to "look back" while you are "looking ahead". This is a time of the year for reflection – reflecting not only on things in your life, but also on your fellowship training thus far. This is the time to identify the deficiencies in your skill set; this is the time to seize the opportunities offered by the final six months of medical training.

I would suggest taking on the most challenging patients, embracing the most complex patient care decisions and making decisions about patient care with confidence. Act as if you were an attending because pretty soon, you will be! There will soon be no one standing above your shoulder that can tell you whether or not it is safe to push a beta-blocker in someone with wide complex tachycardia or whether or not to activate the cath lab for an electrocardiogram that looks like left ventricular hypertrophy with repolarization. Utilize your preceptors and mentors to their maximum – you're about to set out on your own and may not have the luxury of such resources in your new position.

This is also the time of year to "look forward" when we all start making plans and setting resolutions for the coming new year. In the same way, you should try to set some concrete career goals for yourself for the coming year. For some of us these will already have been defined. For example, you may already have accepted a job that requires a certain skill that is not standard in the cardiology fellowship curriculum (such as interpretation of vascular ultrasound). In this case, it would be prudent to spend some time in the vascular lab and sit for the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification. Practices really love when incoming clinicians tailor their abilities to fit the practice needs. In fact, such an action may even give you a leg up on the other applicants. For others, we have to think about what skills will make us most competitive for the positions we are seeking and work towards achieving those.

This time of year is a special time for everyone. For those of you graduating from training, give gratitude for both your personal journey as well as your professional one.

This article was authored by Payal Kohli, MD, a fellow in training (FIT).