In episode five of Small Talk Big Topics, hosts Drs. Matthew Whitson and CS Tse are joined by guests Drs. Rena Yadlapati and Frank Scott to discuss how to become a clinical expert.
First, the guests each share a brief introduction of themselves: Dr. Yadlapati is associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, clinical expert in esophagology and medical director of the Center for Esophageal Diseases at UCSD; and Dr. Scott is an associate professor of medicine at University of Colorado, IBD specialist and clinical epidemiologist specializing in Markov models.
Diving right into the conversation, they each share how they came to hold the professional titles they have today. Dr. Yadlapati reveals that she initially had no clue that esophagology was a subspecialty in the field of GI, but that it was her clinical experiences which ultimately shaped her career path. After some time, she became aware of the knowledge gaps in the field. During his medicine residency, Dr. Scott learned that he enjoyed the cognitive and procedural aspects of GI. He earned a masters in epidemiology during his GI fellowship, which then transitioned to his outcomes and research career.
Dr. Scott stresses the importance of a mentorship team early on in your career in the field. While it’s nice to have one mentor who serves as a role model for the exact position you hope to one day achieve, it is important to have a well-rounded team who can collectively offer you well rounded perspectives and advice, he said. Different people, he reveals, will come at your career trajectory with different tips and opinions.
Going off of this, Dr. Yadlapati shares that mentorship was also pivotal in her own career. Over time, many of her past mentors have become her sponsors and offer allyship and advocacy outside of her research. Medical societies are incredible in building a network outside of institutions and offering opportunities to fellows and early career faculty. They are also willing to welcome new people into their societies and provide leadership training.
Dr. Scott adds that there are certain roles at the national level which are built specifically for junior and mid-career faculty. One challenge junior faculty often faces is when they become more successful, they experience increasing pressure to be more and more involved. It is important to balance the tasks you are being asked to do with your short and medium term trajectory. Don’t miss his advice on how he stays on top of his own timeline and workload.
Next, Drs. Yadlapati and Scott offer their best advice for future experts looking to prepare themselves as best as possible. On one hand, Dr. Yadlapati advises students to their goals with the researchers already at their institution. However, the other side of her believes that any program could be a good fit as we have the power to make our careers what we want them to be. Thus, there is no one way to approach this. If you are lucky enough to be at an institution which aligns with your goals, it is a golden opportunity. Dr. Scott adds that your probability of success will be higher if you feel aligned with your institution. A strong indicator of this is to examine what the people who were in your position before you have done since then.
To conclude the episode, they each define the markings of a clinical expert in their own words and share the advice they wish they had received earlier on in their careers.