Catalina Vladut is a young Gastroenterology specialist affiliated to the Clinical Emergency Hospital ‘Agrippa Ionescu’, Bucharest, Romania. Her interest in research led her to enroll in her PhD in Pancreatology. She is member of UEG’s Young Talent Group and their cross-representative on UEG’s Equality & Diversity Task Force. Here are her tips for your research career, based on the session ‘Career Chat: Women in Research’ at UEG Week 2019.
- Fellowships are an essential part of one’s medical education, especially when it comes to research. Even if some centers provide less clinical practice, if these are centers of excellence in research, the experience will boost your knowledge. This means making a big change in your life, but the benefit will be remarkable regardless how long you stay there. UEG helps young investigators with a Visiting Fellowship or a Research Fellowship.
- ‘Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough on what is important’ (Stephen Covey). Time management is essential when it comes to effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity. Set priorities and identify tasks that need immediate attention (urgent vs. important). Be flexible as there can be changes along the way.
- Identify and hold-on to your passion: basic or translational science, clinical practice, management, different topics in GI, etc. Try to make all these experiences so that in the end you know what your field of interest is.
- Choose a great mentor in an excellence center, according to your field of interest, but never forget that it is a two-way street. Therefore, you should become a good mentee and be willing to develop yourself.
- Emotional and practical support at home is essential. The partner is the key ingredient to a happy life, being able to share the burden and take on some tasks. Never forget the family support, especially grandparents who can be a great solution. However, family and work remain two separate entities in your life. Try not to intertwine them, yet do not neglect one of the two. Studies show that maintaining a good work-life balance increases productivity.
- Networking helps you expand your horizon and improve your medical knowledge. Participating in scientific meetings, workshops, or courses and interacting with worldwide experts can bring new perspectives and offer you the tools necessary to develop yourself and your home hospital.
- Healthy mind, healthy body. Be careful about burn-out: studies have shown that burn-out occurs 1.6 times more often in female physicians. Do not overwork yourself and try to find the time to relax. Find a passion or hobby and give it the amount of time it deserves.
- Self-confidence: be aware of your strength and do not underestimate your assets. Go forward to apply for grants and other opportunities.
- Face the ‘mommy gap bias’, meaning the challenge of reentering your medical career after staying at home with your children. Many medical programs were implemented to facilitate the career reentry, yet all you need is dedication and willpower. Moreover, studies show that while paternity leave is overlooked, it can have a great positive impact on the mothers’ health .
- Be aware of the sacrifice! The keyword was ‘sacrifice’ since both senior male and female GI’s that attended the Career Chat were able to admit that every choice has an impact on the personal or professional life. However, all these choices define us for who we become in time.
- Burtle A, Bezruchka. “Population Health and Paid Parental Leave: What the United States Can Learn from Two Decades of Research”. Healthcare (Basel). 2016 Jun; 4(2): 30. doi: 10.3390/healthcare4020030