Congratulations! You’re in the midst of the tumultuous years of studying to be a doctor. Maybe you’re still in your pre-med courses, studying for the MCAT, putting yourself through medical school or surviving medical school. Don’t worry, the roughly 100 years of education (or 8-10, it can be difficult to keep track) may almost be over and you’re on your way to becoming a doctor. Each step can be exciting and you might be nearing the end of the track before you become an official doctor.
You might be finishing your residency now or just starting medical school, but it’s never too early to start preparing yourself for the next step.
Do you need any additional training?
It’s good to be focused and many of you might have the ideal track lined up for your medical career. Maybe it’s been in your head since day one or maybe a few weeks working in a different ward has swayed your thinking, but at the end of the day, it always pays to have a direct goal.
While many medicine tracks simply require completion of residency, many other areas will require additional training or certification. There are countless fellowships and training to list here, so it’s wise to do your research on the area, or areas, you’re thinking about. Some fellowships are short, just one or two years while others, like some surgeons, require a bit more complicated path.
Additionally, you may have to be board certified and is different from obtaining your medical license. Once again, your desired track or area will mean whether or not you’re going to need to be certified, so make sure and do your research ahead of time. It can be a rigorous process, but you know you’re already in this for the long haul.
Are you prepared for the worst?
It can be difficult to keep track of what insurance doesn’t cover these days, but almost all people have the following types: auto, health, life, and property. You always want to make sure you’re covered and protecting yourself from the unforeseeable is a smart life practice.
If you’re a doctor, it’s smart to add a fifth insurance need to the previous list: disability insurance. We all would like to believe we’re going to be healthy, wealthy, and wise till the end of our days, but an increasing number of Americans suffer from a long-term disability each year.
If you suffer from a disability because of illness or injury, you’re going to be unable to work and your medical bills will continue to pile up. If you’re protecting everything else in your life from your car to your home, why wouldn’t you want to protect the most valuable asset, yourself?
While choosing the right insurance can be difficult, it’s smart to make sure that you do have a policy that can cover you in the event of a disability or unexpected circumstances. You are your most important asset and you need to make sure you’ve got your own back. You’ve put in all the hours to reach this point, make sure you’re protecting yourself.
Are you maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
As a medical student or professional, you’re the first person to understand the difficulties and demands of the job. Sleepless nights, all-nighters, and stress are part of your regular routine and vocabulary. Chances are you’ve sacrificed a lot over the last few years, having to put many of your personal relationships in the background or your personal projects on hold.
Now that you’re moving onto the professional world, it’s important to start focusing again on your work-life balance. All medical careers have their stressful moments, some admittedly more than others, but it’s important to lean on your friends and family during those stressful moments.
You’ve sacrificed a lot to reach this point, so don’t beat yourself up overtaking a family night or grabbing dinner with your friends instead of putting in extra time. These moments are bound to lower your stress level and make you a happy and healthier medical professional.
It’s also important to consider your work environment. It’d be a waste to spend any amount of time working to be in a place you dread going to every day. Make sure the hospital or medical center you’re working at is a good fit for you. Avoid those toxic settings and make sure you’re in a place that encourages and supports you.