A Career Timeline for MD Trainees

Every hematologist trainee, whether MD, DO, or PhD, should have a plan for career success. While every person’s career path clearly requires an individualized plan for true success, based on insight from hematology leadership and fellows, the ASH Trainee Council has created a generalized framework to help guide those training for a career in hematology.

See below for the Career-Development Timeline for MD Trainees. For more timelines and resources, including for PhD trainees, private practice trainees, and residents, visit hematology.org/Career/Timelines.

In addition to a list of continuous priorities throughout fellowship (such as attending scientific meetings, finding mentors, and identifying grant and training opportunities), the ASH Trainee Council developed a general timeline of priorities for Year 1 and Years 2-3 for MD trainees. This timeline assumes that year 1 will be devoted to clinical training, with remaining years focused on a specific career pathway.

Year 1

  1. Become a member of ASH.
  2. Attend the ASH Annual Meeting. The ASH annual meeting offers a plethora of opportunities including opportunities to check out the latest cutting-edge research in all fields of hematology, network with trained hematologists and researchers, meet and socialize with other trainees in the trainee lounge, and participate in Trainee Day, a high-yield and educational series of events geared toward trainees.
  3. Visit the trainee career center; identify opportunities to apply for training in clinical/translational research degree programs or workshops.
  4. Develop a vision and map out your future. Identify your training track (Master Clinician, Clinical Investigator, Physician Scientist, Physician Educator), and choose a mentor based on the track you are pursuing in hematology.
  5. Identify an advisor, and strive to identify your mentor by the spring of your first year.
    1. If an advisor is not assigned to you at the beginning of your fellowship, ask your program director to assist in the identification of an advisor.
    2. Expand your knowledge by attending seminars and conferences. Attending seminars and conferences at your institution (within your division, department, cancer center, undergraduate/graduate departments) can help you gain exposure to faculty’s research interests.
    3. Begin meeting and gathering information on potential mentors. Try to identify your mentor by the spring of your first year so that you may begin to work on outlining a specific research project prior to starting year two.
  6. Complete the requisite tests for certification. In preparation for eventually conducting research at your institution, complete the requisite tests for certification, should they be necessary for the review of a forthcoming institutional research ethics board proposal on a study that you and your mentor are planning (i.e., proof of HIPPA awareness and the ethical conduct of research).

Years 2-3

  1. Continue to schedule weekly meetings with your mentor(s).
  2. Have explicit conversations with your scholarly mentor at the outset regarding eventual funding. This will help you focus your thinking and will clarify expectations for both you and your mentor.
  3. Consider a small secondary project if your primary project will take over a year to complete. Small secondary projects may lead to an abstract, poster, and manuscript. Writing a review article or book chapter that will enhance your knowledge of your field may be useful. Preparing clinical protocols or research proposals may strengthen your protocol writing skills early on.
  4. Begin to research job opportunities in the spring. Begin to search job banks and ask the division chief for help. Keep your CV up to date and write a cover letter draft. Take advantage of presentations at meetings that discuss job searching/interviews, like the Career Development Lunch at the ASH Annual Meeting.
  5. Continue to meet with your program director at least every six months. These meetings are important to discuss the quality of your mentoring and research experience.
  6. Search for a subspecialty fellowship training program. Trainees seeking further specialized clinical skills development, with an opportunity to incorporate protected research time may search for a subspecialty fellowship training program (BMT, thrombosis, vascular medicine, transfusion medicine) rather than a non-specific year of research training.
  7. Keep a file of academic or research talks. These talks will be useful on the interview trail.
  8. Keep a “teaching dossier” of your academic activities. Proof of teaching skills may be required when applying for a clinician–educator track position.
  9. Strive to give talks at other institutions and present abstracts at meetings. Use discussions about your work to explore the potential for a position at other institutions.
  10. Continue your search for a position. It is helpful to have your mentor or other faculty members from your institution facilitate introductions with leaders in the field and other clinical and research scientists doing similar or complementary work.