Three cardiologists recently joined Becker's to share the advice they would give their younger selves.
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Question: What advice would you give your younger self when you were first entering the field of medicine?
Jeff Carstens, MD. Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Service Line, UnityPoint Health Des Moines (Iowa): I would tell myself to keep an open mind to opportunities that arise on your career path and everything will work out. I never imagined myself as a U.S. Navy physician, a cardiologist or as a cardiology leader, but all have been great experiences that I am glad that I embraced. Also, be prepared to continue to learn for the rest of your career, because healthcare is always evolving.
Samuel Kim, MD. Cardiologist and Director of Preventive Cardiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center (New York City): The reality of practice of medicine is very different than what I envisioned it would be like when I was first entering the field of medicine. During the initial phases of training, it remains a very individualistic sport focused on individual achievement to get into medical school, residency or fellowship. However, once you are in practice, medicine becomes a much more team sport where other skill sets like negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership play a greater role. My first advice to my younger self would be to invest more time in early phases learning the "soft skills" such as negotiation and leadership (even if it's simply reading a good book on these topics once in a while) because these are not taught traditionally in a medical school classroom. Your ability to "get things done" is less dependent on your actual medical knowledge but more on your interpersonal relationships with others.
In terms of a second piece of advice, I would say it is important to try to learn the business and policy of medicine. I think something like Becker's Healthcare is a great resource to understand what is happening in the field of medicine. Every day try to spend at least 15 minutes reading business/policy news in healthcare because I really think it changes the way you understand how medicine works. Get involved in your specialty's society groups since this can often be a place as an initial place to learn these skills.
Third, spend as much time learning from the support staff like nurses, medical assistants/techs or phlebotomists. Many of the practical skill sets I have learned from them, and they give you a totally different perspective on the challenges of medicine. It's so easy to forget sometimes that they are powerful stakeholders/advocates for any operational decision-making.
Lastly, constantly update your personal mission, vision and value statement from time to time. I wish I had done this earlier in training because what you want both professionally and personally are going to constantly change. Medical knowledge in a lot of ways is the easiest part because you will gain this from day to day experience. It's more important to constantly re-evaluate the "why I practice medicine" question every now and then. Otherwise it can feel like you are just running on the treadmill of medicine every day doing the same things over and over again.
Shalini Modi, MD. Associate Medical Director of Heart and Vascular Service Line at Henry Ford Health and Service Chief of Cardiology at West Bloomfield Henry Ford Hospital (Detroit): I would tell my younger self that it’s not about grades anymore in the field of medicine. Grades are important but also understand the socioeconomic environment where a physician practices. There are leadership opportunities available today which were not available to women in my generation and that simply states that having an open mind set towards growth and learning lifelong will make medicine fun and worth running the marathon that the practice of medicine has become. Must embrace change and adapt and iterate as the situation demands.