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Professional Development

Medicine is a field where its professionals especially must change with the times throughout a career. However, evolving in your role as a physician — or, professional development — ideally involves taking this growth and development to the next level. This level of professional development includes dedicating yourself to enhancing your medical knowledge and skills over time, effectively managing your education debt and general financial health, networking with other health professionals to broaden your horizons, and other topics.

Doctor shaking someone's hand
Connecting people

Networking involves connecting and developing relationships with physicians and other health professionals to use as a resource in your career. Liken your network to a database of individuals who may introduce you to various opportunities as well as help you enhance your medical knowledge and skills and generally broaden your horizons. Professional networking is similar to making personal friends — some people skills and etiquette are required for successful connections.

Crumpled up Plan A, on to Plan B

While it’s possible to switch specialties after beginning your residency training or even later in your career, it’s generally a challenging, burdensome process. Ideally, avoid the extra training time, additional educational debt, lost salary, and — perhaps, most importantly — misery by getting it right the first time. But if you end up unhappy, switching is absolutely an option worth investigating. Perhaps your ideal specialty is feasible, and pursuing it will enable a more fulfilling career.

A stack of textbooks

Certain elements of your education will impact your career planning and specialty choice, including your scores on licensing exams (a.k.a. "boards"). But board scores are only one component of your residency application — your clerkship grades, letters of recommendation, research experiences, and demonstrated interest in a specialty are also factors in your competitiveness. While your scores on licensing exams are important and you should certainly study hard, keep their significance in perspective.