With the AAS Fall Courses only a few short months away (October 21, 2023 in Boston), it’s a great time to strategize about getting the most out of attending a professional development opportunity. Often the first several years of your academic career can be a steep competition with young surgeons vying for opportunities for funding, advancement and promotion. This process can be frustrating and stressful. The AAS Early Career Development Course (ECDC) is a one-day workshop that provides an opportunity for graduating residents, fellows, and early career attendings to learn from and network with leaders in American surgery. The day is designed to enhance your abilities to plan and start your academic career, negotiate for resources, teaching, leadership development, achieving local to national visibility, and pathways to promotion.
It’s important to remember that successful career development takes planning, patience, and determination. Attending the ECDC (or other career development course) is an excellent way to be exposed to and learn skills and strategies to maximize your first several years in practice. Yet, simply attending a course is not enough. To gain the most benefit, you must be an active participant and commit to enhance your skills when you return home.
The following are some suggestions for how to prepare to attend a career development course and things you can do after returning home to optimize your experience.
-Bring An Open Mind
Be willing to consider new concepts and be receptive to diverse views and ideas. An accepting mentality will prevent you from ignoring or disregarding ideas that are different from your current frame of reference.
-A Desire to Change
You made the decision to attend the course, presumably because you wanted to be more prepared for your career and become a better leader. Bring enthusiasm for personal growth to the course and it will be much more beneficial.
-A Commitment to be Present and Actively Participate
Surgeons learn by doing and we are, by our nature an active group. Yet, so many of us withdraw or become introverted when placed in new surroundings or with unfamiliar people. Resist the urge to sit in the back of the room, be a passive bystander, or constantly be checking your phone or distracted by other work. Fully engage in all aspects of the course, including large and small group discussions, activities, and the networking events. You never know when you may meet and leave an impression on your next partner, division chief or department chair.
What to Take Away
-A Dedication to Enhance Your Skills
Find opportunities to demonstrate and hone the tips and pearls that you learned at the course. Formally set goals and actively seek feedback from peers, recently graduated co-residents, partners and chiefs. Returning home from a course and not actively utilizing your new skills and knowledge will stunt your initial career development potential.
-A Commitment to Continued Professional Development
Becoming an effective academic surgeon and leader is a long process. You will have successes and failures at every step. Be determined and deliberate in your efforts to enhance and develop the first several years of your career. Also remember that your path to success is a marathon and not a sprint. Periodically take time to reflect on what you have achieved. Celebrate the small wins as they occur and learn from the setbacks to better see them coming in the future. During times of slow progress, don’t get frustrated and remember to use less busy times to recharge.
-An Understanding That Others May Be Resistant to Change
For those returning to faculty jobs hoping to enact significant change, this may be the most important take away, particularly if you’ve had a life-altering epiphany during the course. Everyone else in your section/division/department didn’t just have an amazing time learning how to help develop their careers and leadership skills. You must work to recruit others to help you and get their input and buy-in. Be patient and considerate with those who don’t fully support your new vision. Use your new leadership and development skills to create a group of like-minded people that can assist you in achieving the desired outcome.
I hope to see you at the Fall Courses!
Registration now open! Take advantage of the discounted rates through October 6th. Click here to register: https://www.aasurg.org/aas-fall-courses/