Navigating GME like a Formula 1 Pro

Graduate Medical Education is pretty much like driving a Ferrari in Formula 1. Everyone is super busy and fast. You are competitive and you want to win. But you don’t have room for errors and wrong decisions. One wrong turn can jeopardize your hard work when you have to transition from undergraduate to graduate medical education. How do you navigate? Times are changing and there are now tools to help you, rather than relying on time consuming research and one-sided accounts about training programs.

As I grow older, one question catches up with me every time I have to make a decision in my life. You must be wondering what is that question. In her song, “pretty hurts”, Beyoncé was asked, “Ms.Third-Ward, what is your aspiration in life”. She replied, “My aspiration in life is to be happy.” That resonates in my mind as if those words were just taken out of my heart.

The real question in our lives comes down to, “What makes us happy?” When it comes to making a decision about choosing a specialty, that’s what I had asked myself. For me it boils down to two major factors: the educational quality and clinical diversity of a program which allows me to see various diseases on a given spectrum, and the city which allows me to fulfill my personal life.

Now this all may seem like such an easy decision on paper, but boy it takes a considerable amount of time, research on programs and constant collection of information navigating yourself through different program websites. Moreover, you cannot disregard the conflict of interest and information bias when you have to rely on program’s website, account of the faculty and trainees at that institution. In all my academic life, I did not discover all the relevant details about a teaching program until I became a part of it.

But thanks to information technology through Doximity’s Residency Navigator app for providing us all the relevant information in helping our decision making process. It collects program information for you. It also conducts program surveys through anonymous and independent reporting which eliminates conflict of interest or potential information bias. It is based on reviews from the graduates that are openly reviewing their programs anonymously. Doximity then shares that information with us to make our decision making process easy.

When I started residency, I did not have the luxury of the Doximity’s Residency Navigator Tool! I had to research every program on my own through their websites, friends, alumni, faculty and trainees at the respective institution. This feature also saves your time from asking too many questions that might be perceived as too critical. I think in future; it will also provide useful feedback to the programs because it involves anonymous surveys without jeopardizing an individual’s professional relationship with the program.

Doximity’s Residency Navigator is an excellent, cost effective and time saving feature which gives you numerous options to search any given programs in any given geographic area tailored to your needs. When you click the searched program, it gives you an overview as to where the trainees are from and where they end up in their academic careers and fellowships. It also provides open reviews from the trainees which are completely anonymous.

You can narrow by specialty, interest and geographic location. Select your preferred program setting, and even choose urban or rural training environment. Sort your results based on what matters most to you: reputation, research output, program size, and more.

This will save 75 percent of the time spent on independent research on your end because it compiles a lot of useful information right on your mobile device. I highly recommend utilizing it as an initial screening tool to search and apply for programs in the specialty of your choice based on your specific requirements.

Residency Navigator Methodology

“Never think that success is down to your own performance alone. If you start listening only to yourself, you take the first step back towards the bottom. The flowers of victory belong in many vases.” — Michael Schumacher

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Kashif Shaikh’s inspiration in life comes from his family members who are educators, engineers and physicians settled across England, the United States, Canada and Pakistan. After attending the Aga Khan University Medical College in the coastal city of Karachi, he moved to Houston to become an Internal Medicine resident at the University Of Texas Health Science Center. He decided to pursue hospital medicine at a health-underserved area in Central Florida and became a Chief Resident at the new Internal Medicine Residency Program at the University Of Central Florida College Of Medicine. He served on the NEJM Chief Resident Blog Panel 2016–2017. He is a Harry Potter fan who grew up reading Jane Austin and Emily Bronte. He played chess and badminton avidly as extra-curricular activities in school. He enjoys listening to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Chopin, Beethoven and Bach. He is a car enthusiast and loves road trips to nearby beaches in sunny Florida. Some of his interests include history, museums, art galleries, live theater, short films, historic cities, documentaries, charity events and current affairs. His future plans include a rheumatology fellowship, a career in academic medicine, charity and volunteer work.