July 21st, 2010

Thoughts from a First-Year Fellowship Survivor

Incoming fellows:

Surely you’ve already been inundated with advice. People have their little tidbits of wisdom that they think you must know as you start your fellowship. Some tidbits are true and useful; others — well, not so much. Unfortunately, it is not always obvious which is which. As one who has just finished his first year of cardiology fellowship, I wanted to share a few thoughts (pile on more advice?) to help make your first year as enjoyable and successful as possible.

  • Smile. Relax; you’ve made it to fellowship. Your years of hard work and dedication (not to mention the occasional embellishment of your positive attributes, the feigning of interest when bored, and the buttering-up of people) have paid off in attaining this most important stage of training…. OK, that’s enough patting yourself on the back; it is mid-July already: get to work!
  • Ask questions. My only regrets over the last year — when a patient could have done better, when I really got in trouble — occurred because I didn’t ask for help. You are not a cardiologist but a fellow. You will face some things that are beyond you; so, utilize your back-up. If people give you a hard time for asking for help, that demonstrates their flaws, not yours.
  • Read. Make a reading program and stick to it. But be realistic. Maintaining a modest goal is much more useful than starting and abandoning a plan that is too aggressive. What to read? I found Mayo Clinic Cardiology: Concise Textbook an easy read and a good overview for topics I did not know well. Similarly, The Echo Manual by Oh and The Complete Guide to ECGs by O’Keefe can get you up to speed.
  • Keep an open mind. As at every other stage of training, high-stakes decisions about your career await. You will soon need to determine your focus within cardiology and the setting in which you want to practice. How to decide? Ask your colleagues on staff what they like and dislike in their work life. What gets them out of bed each morning? (Or, why do they have to convince themselves to get out of the car and into work?) Express your interests earnestly, but keep an open mind throughout the year — your interests may evolve, and your eventual career choice may surprise you.
  • HAVE FUN!! For most of you, this is your only first year of fellowship. So, enjoy yourself. Have fun at work, but also make time for life outside the hospital.

Ultimately, you have done well to make it to where you are. If you pursue your training as you already have, you will be absolutely fine. (And don’t forget — advice is generally worth what you pay for it!)

Now, let us at CardioExchange know:

First-year fellows, what do you most need, and haven’t yet gotten at your institution? What has surprised you the most? 

Fellows who have survived the first year, what additional advice would you give to incoming Fellows?

2 Responses to “Thoughts from a First-Year Fellowship Survivor”

  1. Omar M. Saleh, M.Sc.Cardiology says:

    Really a good advice i shall keep i in mind. But i want to know how i could go through a fellowship? Where to start and who to connect with?

    Competing interests pertaining specifically to this post, comment, or both:
    non declared…

  2. Roshan Karki, MBBS says:

    The suggestions are really useful. I am thinking about doing a fellowship in cardiology. I want to know what do you think about it. What drives you and what are your likes and dislikes? What should be my expectation as a fellow?