If coverage, inexperience and decision fatigue are the day to day struggles of transitioning to academic practice, an overarching issue is finding your niche in this new environment. Academia has many routes you can pursue in ordered to be considered successful. These avenues traditionally are research, administration, and teaching. A research-based career might seem alluring to someone who has experience in academic research in residency. Most institutions have tracts to advance professionally based on publication and your ability to stand out as a well-regarded member in your field. More recently, institutions have placed more focus on education and the merits of being involved in resident education. Involving yourself early on in a residency program is a good way to get involved in a department, especially given you are so close the experience yourself. If neither of these options appeal to you, an administrative role, such as getting involved in quality assurance projects, can give you a foothold and insight into the inner workings of a department. As a new academic attending you might feel pressure to try and advance in multiple areas. Early on, it is best to try multiple avenues seeking to find something that interests you. Providing yourself with both short term and long-term goals can help you stay focused as well as keep momentum.
Becoming an attending is both an exciting and overwhelming time. It is well known that transitions can cause physicians to deal with imposter syndrome. The key to success as a junior attending is developing a support system within your practice. For those at a new institution, you can still reach out to those who trained you in residency for guidance and clinical questions. You can further expand your support system to new individuals that you meet who you identify with and feel you want to emulate as well as department leadership. Identifying a mentor will help you create goals both in the short term and long-term such as a five-year plan to develop your niche and tract within your career. Transitions are always a tumultuous period by nature, but approaching your practice with humility, excitement and engagement will set you up for success. It is comforting to know that every practitioner in every academic department has, at some point in their career navigated their way to success.
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