So, you aren't a student or a resident anymore...
5 Tips for those Transitioning from Student or Resident to Not
By Emily Eddy, R.Ph., PharmD
1. Stay on the resident schedule (a little)
You are now beginning the transition from resident to professional. Having come off of what was probably the most challenging year of your career, you may be feeling burnt out. As a resident and student, you were always juggling projects and other work, causing you to live a very regimented and scheduled life. Personally, as a resident I remember scheduling short term and long-term goals to manage little and big projects. As you transition out of being a resident I would encourage you to keep that mind set. To backwards plan and set goals for yourself. Life will always be busy and if you want to make sure things get done you have to set goals for yourself and milestones. While staying in this mindset will help you accomplish goals in your career, the time line should change. You are not a resident anymore and have worked hard to get to that place in your career, so give yourself a little slack. Most likely as you transition into a new part of your career, your timelines will change a little. You will have some things that will need to be resolved quickly with precision, but somethings will be long term goals and you can relax your timelines a little.
2. Your Career is an opportunity for Lifelong Learning
As a pharmacy student and resident, you were often told what to learn and when. As you transition away from being a student or resident you need to set up a way to stay current. Find a system that works for you, there are so many options for system, the important thing is to have one. You could subscribe to organization emails, subscribe to podcasts, mentor students, set a calendar event to read something. No matter what you do, just have a system to do it because otherwise it usually drops to the bottom of to do lists.
3. Stay in Touch with Mentors
No matter where you are in your career or life, a great mentor can change everything. As you transition into a new role it can be easy to lose contact with past mentors. Purposefully keep the contacts that have been meaningful to you, so that when things get tough you have a voice to help you in case you need it. It can be especially helpful to have mentors that knew you at different stages of your career to help you. I would say also seek new mentors. They may be harder to find as you get busy and they aren’t assigned to you but it’s important to find people you respect and admire.
4. Perfect is the Enemy of the Good
As pharmacists we often seek perfection and in seeking perfection can miss out on doing really great work. A mentor of mine used to tell me all the time, “perfect is the enemy of good per Voltaire”. It made me think of all the times I had delayed starting something new or trying something because I was afraid it wouldn’t be perfect and I wanted all the details worked out. As I have started my career and have found myself stuck, I am reminded that things don’t always have to be perfect. When working on a smoking cessation service I was hesitant to start because I didn’t have it all worked out. But what I found is I could start with one patient and make a good service and still the patient could quit smoking. Were the templates and forms perfect like I wanted? No, but the service was good enough to impact lives and change people’s health. The forms will become perfect in time but for now good is still accomplishing all my goals.
5. Your Career is a Marathon, not a Sprint
Most residents feel like they need to say yes to everything as they are trying to figure out their career and be a successful resident. While you still want to strive and achieve goals that you have set for yourself, it’s important to step back from time to time and see if you have balance. Make sure you get sleep, stay healthy and have a social life. It is easy to say yes to too many wonderful opportunities, often times it is because they are wonderful opportunities and enthusiasm can lead to over commitment.
Is what you are doing sustainable for another 30-40 years? You need to make sure opportunities don’t inhibit you from having happiness now and also allow you to be happy and healthy down the road. Someone once told me that just saying no now doesn’t mean you have to say no later. Maybe the great opportunity is right for another time in your career. It’s a marathon, you have time.