Saturday, April 19, 2014

Intern, level III anecdotal evidence and thoughts to keep in mind while Training

As you know, do I as a junior member on the one hand of the common agricultural policy councils. In addition to enjoying the opportunity to participate and represent the resident voice on issues affecting the future of our profession, I have always appreciated for the thought provoking conversations that I am fortunate to have over dinner of our meeting. And this past weekend meeting does not disappoint.


So, we've all heard the opposing arguments. There is one side that anticipates an approaching "retirement cliff" and not enough pathologists to meet the needs of future patients. Then there is the "doom and gloom" side that says is that we have too many pathologists and no jobs for those of us who will be graduating in the near future. Which side is correct?


As someone who was trained in critical analysis and statistics of public health during my training, I see a scenario where both of these situations can co-exist. Just like the Indian story of six blind men who are from different parts of an elephant, our perception of reality is based on our experience (or if you think of gross profit-speak, sampling informs our final conclusion). For trainees, of course, we fear not being able to obtain this "competence". Everyone seems to emphasize as of late and more so of not being able to find a job when we graduated. Couple that with the frequent nay-do we say about the scarcity of employment opportunities available (which equates to anecdotal evidence level III) hear, that the landscape is for us to believe that our profession is in a crisis.


These issues and more during our dinner We discussed last week and practicing pathologists pointed out to me that they had heard the same as they were training and yet, they are indeed were employed, and in jobs that they love ... so there is hope. I was told that if we focus on getting "good" pathologists and working to obtain "true skill", the rest must follow. A "good" pathologist is always used and sought after.


But what about those of us that don't make that reduction of the "cream of the crop" is and who are your average intern? Average means that the majority. What I seem to hear repeatedly (even from the nay-sayers) is that there are jobs out there ... just maybe not on the location or on the salary/benefits we initially want. But maybe we should look at this as a "glass half full" opportunity. Most of the positions of our future "dream" may still be within reach, but we have to be humble and realistic and perhaps our way to work.


The most desirable characteristics in a successful applicant, from what I heard over and over during this call, and several others, are competence (especially since no one wants to lawsuits), ability to fit (of course, people like you and don't think you will lead to drama), and experience. This often translates to a society or junior attending experience during residence training where we can build up our confidence and the ability to unsubscribe from our own (or almost with little supervision). So, the suggestion was to obtain employment (and it's not possible to have your "dream" job) to nurture that capacity and then if you have the other two features, you need to able to find employment in a situation closer to how your "dream" job in time looks like. But patience is the most important virtue here.


This Outlook, I found a little more practical than either of the above two, more extreme arguments. And anyway, it's not worth it waste of time and energy worrying about what can come never came to pass (and attendings really tired of whining) ... but rather the goal to be the best we can in the current set pathologist. Of course, this is easier said than done or had we all are acing our boards and attendance.


Making the transition from student to practicing almost pathologist is difficult. We can not meet the requirements of a job (as opposed to studying mentality) that it is expected that we already possess during training and the volume of the knowledge we need may seem miraculous at times. But ask yourself some small sequential goals and push yourself to have the humility and dedication to meet them ... and right behavior aside. If your residency is not give you what you need, proactive (and nicely) ask for it. .. or find other outlets available – there are a lot of free online sources and your fellow residents, on your program and others, are a valuable resource, understated. Don't expect others to do for you what you need to learn to do for, and demands, for yourself.


I feel inspired after the meeting of last weekend and the discussions we had and I am myself to continue to address my weaknesses again dedicates. Leave us a comment if you have any advice on how we should approach residence training or how we should look at the future of pathology in this ever changing health care environment.



-Betty Chung, do, MPH, MA is a second year resident physician at the Hospital of the University of Illinois and Health Sciences System in Chicago, IL.


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