Everyone, I want to take some time to talk directly to the fourth year students and to the recent graduates specifically you guys are at an interesting crossroads that you want to experience again in your careers this is a time that can really set the tone for the rest of your career and I want to share with you some advice to help make sure that you are as successful as possible right out of the gate. This can be a very daunting time but I think it’s really more of an exciting and thrilling time as well.
The first key to success is to set goals for yourself you need to constantly be striving toward something worthwhile. One of my favorite quotes that always helps me keep pushing myself is “you didn’t come this far just to come this far”. Graduation boards may be over and you accomplished your prior goals so now it’s the time to look to the future and to set new goals. This is a very transformative time of your life so it’s appropriate to reassess and re-evaluate your priorities and shape your goals to match them. Be sure to make SMART goals. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. You’ve been working so hard for so many years I know it can be very tempting to want to relax and just take it easy for a while but I assure you that you’ll be much better off and happier if you keep pushing yourself now.
You might think my next key is just a buzz word but I promise you that it is critical to your early success as a doctor.
Networking. It’s been said that your network is your net worth think about that. Who is in your network right now? What do they do to contribute to your network? What is your network lacking? How has your network helped you so far? Were you involved in organizations and school what national organizations? Are you involved in now are you a member of a state association even if you don’t know where you plan to practice? If you haven’t given much thought and time to networking at this point you’re a little bit behind the curve and you’ve got some catching up to do so you might wonder how you can start building your network an easy way is to start attending state associations even if you’re in a state you don’t plan to work in then that way you can. Practice your networking skills on people you don’t plan to work closely with and you might not even see again but be sure you always make a good impression though because the optometric community is relatively small and your reputation can follow you. Business cards may seem old fashioned these days but there really isn’t a widespread replacement yet so make sure that you always have one on hand. Your network doesn’t only have to be in the optometric community. Go to a local chapters of Lions Club or chamber of commerce. Most communities have groups of young professionals from all different industries that meet just to network. Working with your patients is also a form of networking. As you treat your patients get to know them, what do they do for a living, what do they like to do with their free time. Networking is simply just making friends like you have been doing your entire life within the optometric community you already have similar interests so it should be even easier to connect with people don’t over-complicate. This should be scary or awkward just have fun with it.
My last key to success as you start your career is to find a mentor that you feel comfortable going to when you need help or advice. It makes a big difference to have a mentor that you can go to for professional problems whether it be contract discussions, clinical care, figuring out your place in the profession. There’s no reason for you to have to try to figure things out on your own when someone else has already been down a similar path and has already asked the same questions. Avoid reinventing the wheel so you can spend time in other areas. As you seek out a mentor, remember that a mentor should help you become your best self and should be someone that you admire and that you can look up to for inspiration as you plan your goals. If appropriate have multiple mentors for various needs or just to have multiple sources of guidance as I said this is a very exciting time in your career and then one that can really have a big impact on shaping your future so strive toward success earlier on and your future self will be very grateful for all your efforts.