As pediatric practice continues to evolve, it is important to consider the perspectives and experiences of early career physicians (ECPs).
The AAP Section on Early Career Physicians is dedicated to helping this group make a successful transition from training to a professional career while ensuring personal life satisfaction. In 2015, the section changed its name to reflect the evolving face of ECPs and now is open to pediatricians 10 years out from residency or fellowship training. Initiatives and priorities of the section include connectivity and engagement, leadership development, member experience and physician wellness.
When considering how practice change affects this segment of the workforce, it is important to reflect on their training and the technological advancements that have occurred during their lifetime.
Information has become more easily available through advancements in email, the internet, wireless connections and social media. Paper medical charts also have evolved into electronic medical records, and practices are starting to integrate telemedicine into practice.
Since ECPs are accustomed to quick access to information, pediatric practices should strive for the most advanced systems available for receiving, retrieving and disseminating information. Practices also should consider their media presence, which engages not only ECPs, but patients and families as well.
For its part, the Academy continues to evaluate its website with an eye toward improvement to allow for the most user-friendly experience. It also hosts websites for sections and councils.
Social media also continue to evolve as a communication tool. Sites like Facebook, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat aid in communication between family, friends, colleagues, and even patients and their families. AAP members can be found on Twitter as “tweetiatricians,” tweeting and re-tweeting important pediatric information and topics to their followers, including family, friends, and where appropriate, patients. (See related article at http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/11/22/MasteringMedia112216.)
ECPs are interested in working hard in their professional life while being efficient in the process. Professional and personal burnout is a concern for many ECPs. Therefore, addressing work-life balance and individual health and well-being is essential. Strategies to prevent and address burnout include alternative work hours, job sharing, part-time employment positions, wellness seminars and symposiums, and mental health days.
Leadership development is another priority for ECPs. The Academy hosts the Young Physicians Leadership Alliance to help ECPs develop leadership skills and take on leadership roles in the Academy and the professional environment. These leadership skills not only allow ECPs to provide new and innovative ideas in the pediatric community, they also increase career and personal satisfaction.
ECPs also are interested in mentorship for their career as well as their advocacy and leadership within the Academy. The AAP Mentorship Program (https://aapmentorship.chronus.com/about) was launched over a year ago to link trainees and pediatricians early in their careers with seasoned AAP members who assist with transitioning into a career in pediatrics as well as dealing with personal issues. So far, there have been more than 150 matches with continued recruitment of mentors and mentees.
When considering these transformations in pediatric practice, it is important to look at the background and life experiences of ECPs as well as how these experiences intermingle with pediatric innovations.
Dr. Smith is a member of the AAP Task Force on Pediatric Practice Change.