When you’re young in a serious profession like those in the healthcare field, it can often feel like your age is a handicap. You know that your youth brings new knowledge and energy into the landscape, but you have to continually prove yourself.
On top of trying to get people to take you seriously, you’re dealing with life and death situations as a physician. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to face burnout from the stress.
Those same qualities that can seem like disadvantages are actually to your benefit. You’re young, smart, and resilient. With a little careful planning and these seven tips, you can embark on a long and successful career as a physician.
1. Keep Your Focus on Balance
You probably saw in medical school and during your internship that doctors have a hectic daily life. The stress of their job often runs into their private life. Knowing this ahead of time, you can prevent it as much as possible.
By focusing on a work/personal life balance, you’re more apt to catch yourself before one or the other takes control. Chances are, there will never be a perfect 50/50 mix.
However, set goals to leave the job on time as much as possible and schedule your time around important family events. These two targets prevent a lot of stressful issues.
2. Protect Your Assets
Depending on where you’re working, you likely have health insurance coverage. Healthcare facilities like to know that their providers are taken care of if they get sick, and many businesses are required by law to offer some sort of medical coverage.
Beyond the basics, what will you do if you end up in an accident or with a long-term condition keeping you out of work? An emergency fund is great, but if you had disability insurance, you could avoid spending your own money and focus on getting better.
In addition to disability coverage, term life insurance takes care of your family and liabilities in the event of your death. For a very small premium monthly, you get the peace of mind of knowing your assets are protected no matter what happens to you.
3. Use Your Vacation Time
It’s a very common misconception of physicians that the whole workplace will fall apart without them. Because of this self-induced pressure, doctors often work through illness, pain, and personal days.
Don’t look at the schedule of the physicians around you. They may have help you don’t have, or a personal life you don’t want. Focus on your own balanced life and take those vacations!
By getting away occasionally, you come back refreshed and ready to tackle your job with clarity and renewed vigor.
4. Be Open to New Knowledge
Right now, you’re in one field of medicine and you may think you’ll be there forever. But as time changes and new innovations come into healthcare, you could change your mind.
As Benjamin Franklin penned, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” You might not know what you need to know today. But it could come in handy tomorrow.
As you are becoming more competent in your scope of knowledge, you’ll be given opportunities to learn about other content. Always be open to these learning sources. They may be part of your path to growth and future career change.
5. Build a Network
Every person you meet is a potential part of your network. Treat each individual with dignity and kindness, from the janitor to the CEO. This is basic human decency, but it’s also part of building a network.
By assuming someone’s story and stereotyping them, you’re limiting your access to their skills and talents. You may be able to help them; they may be able to help you.
Be kind, always, and act with integrity. By doing so, you’ll find yourself with a massive network of connections you didn’t even realize you were collecting!
6. Don’t Be Afraid of the Spotlight
There are lots of event opportunities where you could step in as a guest speaker. Any chance you have to be in the spotlight or get your name in print is a good one for the first few years of your career.
You don’t want to overdo it and sign on for things outside of your specialty. But getting your name known in the community early will create more openings for you later. With better career paths comes more money and less work.
Don’t be a spotlight hogger, but don’t be afraid of it, either.
7. Ask for Feedback
There are two ways to grow: from mistakes and from experience. The experience can be yours or someone else’s, and it’s always better to engage in this type of growth than that of lessons learned the hard way.
To that end, while you’re young, learn the art of asking for feedback. It can be hard to accept criticism. However, when you see it as a constructive way to move forward, it’s easier to internalize what you need and let go of the rest.
Find a mentor or others in your field that you can talk to about the way you handled a case or goals you have. Ask them for their opinions and be willing to listen without getting upset.
Your youth is truly an advantage and a benefit as a physician! With these tips and your own passion for your career, you will have a successful personal and professional life.