Navigating the Career Path: A Thoughtful Approach to Career Success

February 24, 2017 | Edinrin Rae Obasare, MD
Career Development

How do you achieve  a successful career in cardiology? I believe this is a question many cardiovascular diseases Fellows in Training probe deeply. The truth is there is no universal  path or formula to  achieve this goal.  We all possess unique gifts, strengths and weaknesses. Our career journeys will be different. However, excitement is found in the journey and in the insights that we discover along the way.

As I explored the process of navigating a successful  career path, I noted certain elements described in psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow described human motivation as founded on a desire for fulfillment and change by personal growth. His motivational theory contained a five-level model of human needs within a pyramid structure, where some needs take priority over others. At the peak are self-actualized people who are fulfilled and continue to achieve their true potential. Maslow estimated only two percent of people would achieve this.  Given this proposed scarcity of self-actualization, it may be a source of anxiety in our developing and highly demanding careers as cardiology FITs. The fear of failure, or not being “good enough”, or not achieving a certain  reputation may hinder us from making certain career choices.  Despite these fears, I have identified five guide posts that have helped me in my quest for a successful career:

Mentors: The importance of mentors cannot be over-emphasized. For me, this means identifying and relating to people in my life with experience I wish to acquire, who have my best interest at heart. Personally, I have that found my mentors stretch me beyond what I believed I could achieve. They are invaluable assets in my growth as a cardiovascular disease professional.

Passion: This refers to an intense desire for something. Its inspiration may often be mysterious as to whether it originates from self or external motivation. Nonetheless it may frequently be obtained through hard work. It includes an unrelenting enthusiasm that drives creativity and pacifies fatigue. There have been many times looking back at challenges on the road as a cardiologist, where, through my love for cardiology, I achieved a task I never thought possible – such as balancing extensive clinical duties with research interests that many times go beyond “normal” working hours.

Relationships: An important reason to work hard and achieve success is so that everyone wins in the end. I am motivated by a genuine love for others and an intense desire to cure cardiovascular disease. Early in my career I identified my patients and professional colleagues as important motivators to excel in cardiology. I have also discovered important clinical and research collaborations through shared interests to achieve common goals. Some of these collaborations have incorporated outside institutions and departments allowing me to expand relationships beyond my local hospital.

Community: I believe my success is largely dependent on the team I build around me. This team may include my healthcare community and the colleagues I work with. The ACC provides excellent resources for building a healthy community in the field of cardiology. I have found several opportunities to volunteer and grow in the ACC such as through educational forums. My local cardiology department, including my program director, faculty and co-fellows have also been an amazing community to be a part of. They have provided a good example of what the bigger world will be like when I finally branch off into practice. They have also given helpful feedback on things in my career that are working and those that I should let go.

Friends and family: Many families and friends provide unconditional love and support when we are at our lowest points. Our families and friends tend to know us the best and usually give honest feedback, which helps with our growth as people in general. Family and friends help us to develop appropriate “people-skills,” which can contribute to a successful career. I believe a healthy life outside of work refreshes and re-energizes us to face the new challenges we encounter at work each day. In my opinion neglecting friends and family may deprive us of a greater sense of meaning to our work and lives in general. For example, my mother always reminds me to maintain a friendly, optimistic attitude amidst challenges I may face at work. My father encourages me with wise counsel and keeps me level-headed in ambitious pursuits I may aspire to in a successful career in cardiology. My siblings emphasize maintaining a genuine and honest demeanor with my colleagues. Friends both at my hospital and from childhood keep me accountable in my actions and decisions I make regarding my career and daily interactions with others in my local health care environment.

I hope that these guide posts help  cardiovascular disease FITs in the quest for a successful career regardless of the motivating factor – whether it be self-actualization or otherwise.

This article was authored by Edinrin Rae Obasare, MD, a Fellow in Training (FIT) at Einstein Medical Center.

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