As I write this final article in EM Resident as your President, I am four months out from finishing my EM/IM Residency at Hennepin County Medical Center where I am now on faculty. My journey began two years ago in Chicago when you chose me as president-elect and culminated over this past year, when I have been honored to serve you as president and will soon be passing the reigns. During times of transition I have been lucky to have great mentors who helped guide me and gave me advice (some good, some bad, and some unsolicited). I would like to impart some things I have learned over my five years of residency and during my first few months post-residency.
- Get Involved to Better the Specialty
This sounds big, and it is, but it can be done at any level. Getting involved could be at your residency to improve some aspect of the residency or serving on a residency committee. You could get involved at the hospital level on a committee or working group. This could entail a legislative issue you are passionate about, which you discuss with your city, state, or federal legislature. It could be you getting involved with EMRA, ACEP, SAEM, AMA, or other organized group.
- Try to Learn Something New Every Day
Every day should be a learning day, during residency and beyond. The amount of information we are required to know can be overwhelming and it changes quickly. In an academic center it may easier to stay on top of everything new, but in the community, this may be challenging. Take any opportunity you can to learn something new, whether that be a new presentation of an illness you already know or something newly described in the literature. This knowledge will keep you fresh and connected and help you provide the best care for your patients.
- Work to Your Limits and Know Your Limits
Pushing yourself in residency is imperative, as this is the time where you have the chance to safely test yourself. Take the opportunity to get out of your normal comfort zone – you may surprise yourself! Testing your limits helps you grasp what you do and don't know. When you finish residency and move on to your job, an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses will go a long way in solidifying your practice. You can continue to improve in areas where you need work and hone your strengths further.
- Figure Out What Type of Job You Want
During residency, take time to reflect on what type of practice you want. Start by assessing the practice you have at your residency. What do you like or don't like? What do you wish your hospital did better? Take the time to reach out to your friends who have graduated and ask them about where they work. Find out what things they like and dislike and how it might differ from the practice at your residency. If you are able, take the time to moonlight. This experience gives you the opportunity to see what other types of emergency medicine practices look like and how they might fit your needs. Use this to assess the various groups you may be interested in, because if it doesn't fit your needs, you will not be happy.
- Do Things That Make You Happy
Residency is hard and so is life after residency. It is imperative to continue doing the things that make you happy, stay grounded, and have a good outlet. This may be athletics, painting, hiking, reading, or spending time with your family and friends. EM is a high-stress specialty with a higher level of burnout than many other specialties. Without a healthy means of release, the stress can build up and become a danger. The point is, the habits you develop now will stay with you as you continue your career, so create a good starting point. No matter how good your job is you will not be happy there if you're not happy outside the hospital.
Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing organization and to represent you over this past year. I hope to continue to work to improve our specialty in whatever way I can.