At large meetings like the AHA Scientific Sessions, the pediatric presence is usually smaller and less ubiquitous than our adult counterparts. For trainees and junior faculty, it can be intimidating to navigate for the first time, but the CVDY Early Career Networking Luncheon is a great way to ease into it. Not only do you get ample opportunities to meet leaders in our field, but they are open, accessible, and eager to give out free advice.
There were faculty represented from almost every sub-discipline within pediatric cardiology (cath, echo, ICU, transplant, etc), and also representing nearly every type of career niche (division chiefs, program directors, researchers, clinicians, educators, etc). We were able to sit in small groups and have round-table discussions about assorted topics.
Here are a few (paraphrased) nuggets I picked up from the round-tables:
- Dr. Peter Lang on Finding What You Love: No matter what you think you want to do within pediatric cardiology, you never know where you’re going to end up…you may love more than one thing…keep an open mind… it’s not completely crazy to change what you’re doing.
- Dr. Katie Bates on Finding Your First Job: You shouldn’t expect perfection – this probably won’t be the last job you ever have.It’s unreasonable to expect your perfect job in the perfect location, but it does seem to work out most of the time. As far as waiting to hear back from programs, you should not freak out if you don’t get immediate feedback. There is a big priority gap between you as the applicant and the program that’s potentially hiring you, and a great deal of things are going on behind-the-scenes, so it’s a slow process to get an offer. Once you have an offer, have mentors help you out, and consider reading a book about negotiation. Her suggestion is Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury.
- Dr. Daniel Penny on Work-Life Balance: Finding interesting or exciting things to occupy your time outside of work will actually enhance your ability to do more productive work rather than detracting from it. Mindfulness can be very helpful, but it’s also important to find a hobby that you love and devote some time to it.
After the round-tables, we were able to hear take-home points from around the room. Here’s just a small selection:
- There’s never a good time to have kids – just do it
- Be adaptable in your first job, but don’t say yes to things that you aren’t going to be able to honestly put your best efforts towards
- Find a mentor early and it’s ok to have more than one
- You can’t always control circumstances at your new job, as things can change, but you can leverage some challenges into opportunities for growth
- Make clear priorities – make time for things that are important (including schedule requests for things like spouse birthdays well ahead of time, etc.)
And finally, here are a few tips regarding involvement in AHA and time spent at Scientific Sessions:
- AHA and CVDY are full of opportunities for interested people; you just have to seek them out
- You can get involved in committees and find collaborators even very early in your career
- Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself – people are here to meet their colleagues and exchange ideas
- Everyone you meet is potentially a future colleague, friend, mentor, or boss
- Getting involved with the AHA has great potential to shape your career and long-term engagement in CVDY can be extremely rewarding
David K. Werho, MD is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California San Diego and a Pediatric Cardiac Intensivist at Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego. His research focuses on pediatric cardiac ICU outcomes as well as interventions and curriculum development in medical education. He tweets @DWerho and contributes to the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society Newsletter as editor and contributor.