Early Career Intensivists: Bridging the Gap between Training and Practice for SOCCA Members
The transition between clinical training to independent practice is notoriously challenging. The goal of the SOCCA Early Career Intensivist (ECI) working group is to help support members through this progression. Founded in 2021, the ECI provides junior members with resources and content tailored to their concerns and interests. “The purpose of the group,” says Chair, Dr. Alisha Sachdev, “is to engage all SOCCA members in the first ten years of their careers with specific programming to meet their needs early on.”
Today, under the leadership of Dr. Sachdev and Dr. Christy Idichandy (Vice Chair) and Dr. Lauren Sutherland (Vice Chair), the ECI now hosts between 4 and 6 virtual events annually, as well as an in-person networking reception at the SOCCA annual meeting. Targeted content addresses effective mentorship, networking, and navigating the job market, among other topics. Prior webinars have explored “how to say no,” “work-life balance,” and “navigating a changing professional landscape.” According to Dr. Idichandy, ECI content is designed to help provide junior attendings with “mentorship and critical advice on growing [their] careers.”
Through its frequent and accessible programming, the Early Career Intensivist workgroup also strives to create and strengthen a sense of community among junior SOCCA members. In the words of Dr. Idichandy, “while [senior] mentorship is important and can help guide you in the right direction, sometimes talking to people in the same situation as you can be very comforting.” She notes that the Early Career Intensivist workgroup and programming offer “a great opportunity to meet colleagues in a similar career stage.” Dr. Sachdev echoes the welcoming nature of the ECI and frames it as a natural entryway into the SOCCA community. “We want all of our more junior members to feel like they are a part of the SOCCA family from the moment they join,” she says.
Early Career Intensivist events also offer unique and valuable opportunities for junior SOCCA members to meet and ask questions of established and experienced intensivists. Nearly all ECI events feature “guest experts.” Prior panelists and discussants include Drs. Carlee Clarke, Michael O’Connor, Brigid Flynn, and Ashish Khanna, among others. “These events are a great place to get advice about how to start your academic or private practice career,” says Dr. Sutherland, who also notes that becoming involved in SOCCA may be intimidating to some junior members. “SOCCA may feel like a large community of well-known people who have accomplished so much,” she says. “We hope that our events can create a space to meet leadership, to have a more personal conversation with them, and to learn about how they got to where they are today.”
Recently, SOCCA board member Dr. Ashish Khanna was a featured guest at an Early Career Intensivists virtual networking event. In an online forum characterized by “lots of questions and discussion,” Dr. Khanna reports, “I really felt I could share my experiences and my leadership journey in various [professional] societies, as well as how to define a professional ‘niche.’” In his view, the Early Career Intensivist workgroup is a natural extension of the values that have shaped SOCCA for many years. According to Dr. Khanna, “SOCCA understands that trainees and junior faculty need opportunities to shine” within the organization and elsewhere. ECI offerings are one more platform through which SOCCA is helping to advance the careers of junior intensivists. Dr. Khanna notes that these efforts are particularly important given the rapid and exciting growth that SOCCA has seen in recent years, including from early career clinicians. “SOCCA’s growth from a few hundred to now over 1,100 members shows the high level of enthusiasm for our society,” he says. SOCCA is “full of opportunity,” and Early Career Intensivist programming is one of many “first stepping stones” available to junior members.
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2023 and beyond, the Early Career Intensivist workgroup is expanding content to continue to support professional development and growth for members. In addition to creating opportunities for junior attendings to find mentors, the group hopes to create opportunities for these members to become mentors to medical students, residents and CCM fellows. Upcoming ECI events will also explore different facets of successful academic careers. In particular, Dr. Sutherland observes an opportunity to create programming for junior faculty who desire “academic but not necessarily research-based careers.” A September webinar, featuring Drs. Teresa Mulaikal and Arna Banerjee explored how to build a career in education. For members considering academia or private practice, further scheduled programming in 2023 will address key strategies for successful contract negotiation and will feature former SOCCA President Dr. Gerald Maccioli. Finally, ECI leadership is working to strengthen connections to SOCCA programming for trainees. “We want to make sure that joining SOCCA becomes a normal next step after fellowship graduation,” says Dr. Sachdev. “We are always looking for people who want to get more involved!”
Information regarding future Early Career Intensivist events is available on the SOCCA website, along with previously recorded webinars. SOCCA members wishing to become involved in SOCCA Early Career Intensivist workgroup are invited to reach out to Society Director Vivian Abalama, IOM, CAE, at [email protected] for additional information.