As members of COSGP, your leadership extends beyond the realm of “student”. Your actions and hard work effectively contribute to significant progress being made within our profession TODAY. It is important to think about your leadership efforts on a continuum, with COSGP and related extracurricular activities as a medical student falling near the beginning of a long and fruitful career as a physician-leader. Take some time to reflect on your goals and aspirations, even those in the distant future (i.e., 10, 15, 20 years from now). Part of being a great leader is having a vision. A vision for your career, yes, but more importantly a vision for your organization, your profession, for your patients and for our global society. There will be times during medical school, and certainly during residency training, when you may need to step back from taking on significant leadership roles or new projects. That is okay. But continually reflecting and re-evaluating your personal vision, goals, and values will keep the fire going.
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to spend time developing relationships. Whether these are professional or personal relationships, it is important to make an effort to maintain them. Keep in touch with old professors, employers, and mentors. Be willing to mentor those that come up the ranks behind you, and continually remind yourself of all of the people in your life who have supported you over the years. If you work to maintain relationships and to reach out to help others who are seeking advice and guidance, it can only pay dividends down the road; it’s a good human capital investment. And finally, just make time to continually remind yourself why you are working so hard and why you have chosen this professional path. It is easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of all of the reasons we wanted to become doctors (or leaders, etc.) to begin with. Write a letter to yourself today expressing all of the reasons you are pursuing this dream and some of the things you hope to accomplish in your career. Then don’t open it for 5 or 10 years. At that point, re-assess where you are in your career and whether or not you have stayed true to your values and ambitions. Of course, frequent reminders throughout the year are also helpful. Just do whatever it takes to maintain that initial passion that led you to pursue a medical career. It is both a great priviledge and a greater responsibility to enter this profession, and we owe it to ourselves to maintain our core values to help guide us in the years to come.
Roberto Fernandez, D.O., MPH