This past week I had the pleasure of attending an out of town meeting. While I of course learn an immense amount of information about Mass Spectrometry the meeting also afforded me the opportunity to talk to some trainees who will very shortly be entering their first professional position. One person in particular asked me if I had any friendly advice for those starting in their first professional position. This made me realize that there are very likely several people with the same question, so I thought I would share my thoughts.

  1. Advice given to me from my mentors:
    1. Don’t make changes to anything for the first six months you are on the job. Sit back and observe. There is very likely a very reasonable explanation for something that you would prefer to do another way. You need to realize that things are likely to be different from where you trained and you may be able to learn a better way if you observe. Of course it goes without saying that if you observe something that can harm patient care (e.g., letting a blood gas syringe sit un-analyzed for an hour) then of course you have to intervene!
    2. Don’t start a conversation with, “well, when I was at [insert name here] we did it this way…” I think that this is really sound advice. It does in a way fall under the same good advice as above but even if you’ve been at your first position for two years you shouldn’t start a sentence like this. Just don’t do it.
  2. My advice:
    1. Expect to be overloaded! Your workload and expectations in training will not match your workload and expectations in your first job. Once you are in your first position you will likely find that you are busier than you thought possible.
    2. Your first job will NOT be what you expected. Even if you take a position at the same institution as where you trained you will find that there are many aspects of the job that you did not expect. Don’t let this disappoint you! It is part of the learning process and in a few months on the job you will have learned more about Chemistry, Medicine and Hospital Administration that you learned in the prior two to three years.
    3. Take time for Family and the things you like to do. Even if you become overworked and tired and deadlines are piling up you still need to take time for family and friends and the activities that you enjoy. Coming back to work fresh after a night off or a weekend will re-energize you and you will be more productive.

I am sure that there is a lot of other sage advice out there. Please if there are readers who have other advice, leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!