Are you a Fellow or an Advanced Trainee?
Advanced specialist training is a very important developmental stage in the medical profession. From an Eriksonian point of view, passing basic examinations can cement one’s sense of competency and self-confidence in their chosen specialty. For many, advanced training is an exciting period of identity and role formation.
However, the excitement and motivation to prepare oneself holistically as a consultant can often be marred by the stress of workplace factors such as service provision pressure and system issues (Robson, 2010).
That is why Clinical Training Fellowships, especially ones outside their own local health network offer a great opportunity for trainees. If you are about to start advanced training or have just started advanced training, you need to keep reading.
Fellowships can help you to “Break away from The System”:
The health system is an important and essential framework for training. Most doctors will end up working within the system that moulded them. Intimate knowledge of the system can offer much comfort and security. However, after many years within the same system, routine and predictability can hinder creativity and inspiration. Hierarchical ladders, junior role typecasting and a dependence on supervisors can also perpetuate patterns formed in basic training. Breaking away or temporarily leaving a system can be the much needed catalyst to stimulate personal development.
Enter a Foreign System
By separating yourself from the system, one can start afresh and allow for new growth. Creating a time-limited position within a foreign system can allow for rapid growth. Sources of funding for Fellowships are often separate to the system, thus creating a parallel system (not bound by service duties like on-call rosters, which are often inhibitors to good training experiences).
Training in a Cultural Context:
By leaving one’s own system, it can place training into context. Consider rural, remote or even overseas Fellowships. This can allow for deep reflection on your training experience and how you would like to contribute to your profession in the future. Think your department is lacking resources? Try working in a remote area that does not have enough money to pay its staff let alone buy basic medication.
Working in cultures other than your own can also help you to realise that all humans regardless of their race, culture and socio-economic status suffer from the same health problems as the Western world. It can also highlight the unique differences that might not be obvious, if you did not leave your own community.
Autonomy, mastery and purpose over your own learning:
By creating your own proposal, having ownership over your training and seeing it through can also enhance your own intrinsic motivation to learn. Daniel Pink in his book Drive (2011) describes how humans are not motivated to learn and be creative with monetary rewards. Rather this requires intrinsic motivation through autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose. A Clinical Fellowship created by you is the perfect example of this. You might never have previous interest in research before, but through a Fellowship, the curiosity to know more about your passion can be the much needed spark to inspire your own research.
Connect with a wide range of International Mentors:
Having good mentors and supervision is integral to good training experiences. Having international mentors can enhance training even further. One study assessed changes in knowledge and connection to the field of Child Psychiatry of two mentoring programs (Horner 2008). They found that the mentoring program held internationally increased awareness of the field, improved connectedness and a desire for trainee-focused events. Having mentors outside of your network can also provide objective feedback not influenced by knowledge of local politics and minimise boundary issues.
Developing much needed skills and having an advantage in the workforce:
Financial and employment security was a major factor in the Robson survey on how trainees chose their sub-specialty training. With increased medical graduates, increased retirement age and perceived lack of government funding, finding a job let alone an enjoyable position can be a major factor in choosing a specialist training program.
One should not forego passionate careers because the jobs may not be there. Trainees should be confident that their training has prepared them sufficiently for consultant jobs. If the job they want is not there, trainees should be trained how to create their own opportunities. Clinical Fellowships offer a fantastic opportunity to develop skills in need in the workforce not available in traditional training positions. In addition, the skills required to develop a viable Fellowship proposal, implement a new service or conduct new research is the perfect training ground. Leadership and experience in how to create new opportunities that did not exist before are just as important as technical knowledge. Doctors should be refining the craft of their chosen specialty, but also master the art of applying for grants, funding and health promotion. If doctors cannot lobby for themselves, then who will?
How to best prepare a Fellowship Grant Proposal:
If you are considering applying for a Fellowship Grant or you are in the middle of preparing a proposal, please read the instructions on how get a free PDF file on “The CGI Clinic Guide on How to get a Fellowship Grant” sent to your inbox. This includes how to best prepare a proposal and the interview process. You can click the link here.
Robson, S. (2010). Factors influencing recruitment to advanced training in child and adolescent psychiatry in Victoria. Australasian Psychiatry, 18(6), 591-592.
Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Penguin.
Horner, M. S., Miller, S. M., Rettew, D. C., Althoff, R., Ehmann, M. M., Hudziak, J. J., & Martin, A. (2008). Mentoring increases connectedness and knowledge: a cross-sectional evaluation of two programs in child and adolescent psychiatry. Academic Psychiatry, 32(5), 420-428.