Academic Pitfalls for Career Satisfaction


You have made it through the long hours of studying, clinical rotations, lack of sleep, lack of time with family and loved ones and probably lack of funds.
You have graduated and have passed your state boards and are now ready to launch your career.

I bet your PA/ARNP program was amazing, you’ve learned so much and now you are ready to share your knowledge with the world – right?

Even though you will have had prior clinical experience, maybe even years and years of clinical experience in another related medical career, this does not necessarily carry over to your new career.

You are now in a position where the buck stops with you.
It is a very different place to be the one who has to make the correct diagnosis and formulate the correct treatment plan.

And even though you have spent hours and hours getting to this point, you are basically at a point where at least your decisions shouldn’t kill anyone! Seriously!

No 1 or 2 year program can possibly even start to cover all you will need to know to become successful as a health care provider.

The ability to say you are skilled and proficient in your skill-set as a provider will only come with years and years of day to day learning on the job.

For myself, with over 25 years in the profession, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t learn a new diagnosis, a new way to work up a problem or a new treatment.

If you go in to a specialty you will have a small advantage of needing to master a smaller set of procedural skills or patient presentations but you will need time to become an expert in your focused line of medical specialty.

If you go into primary care, you will need to know something about everything and also know if you don’t know, what you need to do next.

Which brings me to knowing what you don’t know.

In medicine, no one can know everything.

Medicine is always changing, especially in these times of COVID19; recommendations for diagnosis and treatment are changing every day.
Sometimes it seems patients will know more than we do about a particular topic as they can now easily research medical conditions on the internet – and they might have more time then us to do this!

And the most important thing I hope you take away from this blog today, is that the most important thing is to ADMIT WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW SOMETHING!!

There is no shame in admitting you don’t know something.

By admitting a lack of knowledge or skill, you will not find yourself in a situation that is harmful to you or your patient.

Trust your gut – if you don’t know, you don’t know.

Patients do not expect you to know everything, but they do expect you to admit when you need another opinion or assistance with a procedure. This is for their safety and it actually builds confidence in them that you are honest and trustworthy about your knowledge and. procedural skills.

You will, unfortunately, find that when you ignore the whispers to yourself to “stop” or “ask”, you will probably experience some terrible sleepless nights and a dive in your self-confidence when a complication arises.

For a new provider, the benefit of ongoing training and emotional support can make a huge difference in the growth of your professional proficiency, self-confidence, and value in your profession.

I can’t emphasize the importance enough of identifying where your academic and communication shortfalls are and getting help early on to move forward in your professional development in a safe and supportive environment.

If you need help – ask – there is professional support available for you.

If you don’t know where to find that support, please reach out to me and I can direct you towards helpful resources.

The success of one of us affects the success of all of us.

You’ve worked hard for this – now go seize the day!