Oh, how COVID-19 has changed everything, hasn’t it? Even though we feel things are back to normal, the truth is that life has changed forever. Medicine and health care are forever changed and aligned with that, so I am me.
For the past year, I have had the privilege of participating in the inaugural American Women’s Medical Association (AMWA) ELEVATE Leadership Certification Course for Women. This group of women was incredibly diverse and amazing to connect, learn and grow with. The program, in a nutshell, was a 12-month program, with monthly learning modules and small group sessions led by coaches, to provide educational concepts and the support to define concrete steps on how to achieve them. enforce. In a field that remains full of biases, women-specific longitudinal leadership training really helps address so many of the issues that we all face in different ways and at different times in our careers and personal lives.
For me, this program couldn’t have come at a better time. In the wake of a pandemic wave that simply left many of us feeling lost, a little empty and exhausted, refocusing on leadership, careers and our personal struggles was essential. I know it felt like the world had turned upside down, and I was still trying to straighten myself out, let alone guide my own ship. Also, I had just taken on a new management position, was going on sick leave for major surgery, and I knew this was a critical transition point (a messy environment, if you will), that I had to re-examine how I presented myself at work and in life.
I learned a lot of important things about myself. I’ve learned that my top priorities are no longer strictly driven by career success.
Medical training takes up so much of our time, it’s a devouring beast, and I think we all find the point where we realize we can’t be consumed anymore, but have to crawl out of our mouths and back into the sun.
But, there was more. My vision of who I am as a person and as a professional is no longer different. I want to present myself in the same way, as the same person, every day. To me, this very personal view seems a bit selfish, but if we really focus on who we are, what we like and what our strengths are, it’s a reflection of that. So who am I? What is my vision?
Consistently present myself as a visionary catalyst for positive change through strategic thinking, problem solving and maximizing the potential of those around me, in order to improve the lives of others.
It’s a big vision. It’s intimidating. But that’s 100% who I am and the impact I dream of having. I have no illusions that I’m perfect at this, but that’s the vision of who I strive to be. And with that, it’s easier to align my career with that North Star statement.
Yeah, I know, looks like I’ve shared month 1 of this program, and that’s it. But, there was so much more.
Some other key concepts:
1) Knowing your values and vision provides a guide for what to say yes or no to.
2) It’s easier to refine your personal brand and increase your visibility when you know what you’re doing and can share it.
3) Boundaries are a form of both professionalism and integration into professional life, but it is difficult to set them. It’s like a habit, it takes time to determine the right versions and anchor them in your daily life.
4) Leadership and career development are just that. A constant stage of growth, and never a destination.
5) One-on-one coaching can be an essential part of the growth process and should not be underestimated.
6) Investing in your network and social capital is essential, as is ensuring that we have (and are) mentors and sponsors.
Finally, I learned that I am in a transition phase. I’m in that messy middle phase between the early years of my career where I’m desperately trying to do all the work, get the papers published, give the lectures, and prove that I belong in academic medicine and leadership. These thought patterns and habits are deeply rooted, but I am actively working to eliminate them, because the most valuable lesson of the last 12 months for me is that I have nothing left to prove.