Plan for your life and medical career with these 3 steps

This time of year I like to walk down memory lane.  I remember my first rotation in the neonatal ICU. I was up all night doing heel sticks on preterm neonates, only to have to repeat them when the results came back because the K’s (potassium levels) were elevated from squeezing the heel.  The life of an intern and resident on a NICU rotation has changed since I trained.  We no longer draw labs as often as we once did.  And I’m sure the babies are grateful!

What else has changed over the years?

As we move from student to physician-in-training, the way we learn changes as well.  As a student, we have a core curriculum to follow. As residents and attending physicians, we direct our learning. Sure, there are opportunities to learn from scheduled lectures, grand rounds, and attending rounds. We have to become active participants in extrapolating the information we need from the information presented.  We have to become even more purposeful to make learning a priority.

The exciting part is we can create our curriculum that incorporates what we need for a successful life and career.  Experiences with patients and their families shape the lesson plan.  Effectively and efficiently engaging with medical professionals on the team contributes to the blueprint.  Discovering what makes us happy and feeling fulfilled adds to the syllabus.

Creating our curriculum and having the discipline to diligently direct the course empowers doctors to move purposefully in our life and career.

Here are three areas of focus to create your curriculum:

Learn more about yourself. You have mastered the medical information. You are working on integrating your knowledge into the patient experience. What do you need to learn about yourself?  Do you even know what makes you happy?  Most doctors focus on their patients, their staff, their career advancement, and their families.  Create time to focus on your interests and hobbies that when you add them to your life experience helps to relieve stress and bring ease into your life.

Notice what aspects of medicine energize you and excite your soul. These are the experiences you enjoy engaging in. This is a clue that you are operating in your genius zone.  Maybe it’s clinical. Maybe it’s in the research arena. Maybe your interest is in quality improvement, IT, or enhancing the patient experience.  This modern era of medicine offers many new avenues to explore.  Tapping into your genius zone directs your path.

Notice what are the experiences where you struggle, doubt yourself, and complain. Before completely abandoning those experiences, dissect out the reasons why they elicit the reactions and feelings that they do. What values are being challenged? Is there something to learn professionally or personally that will shift the experience into a positive one?

Creating a core curriculum adds direction to your life and career.  Once outlined, it aids in the decision-making process as opportunities arise.

Stephanie Wellington is a physician and can be reached at Nurturing MDs.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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