Dr. Petros Grivas recently left the Cleveland Clinic for a new position at the University of Washington as Clinical Director of the Genitourinary Cancers Program and as Associate Member of the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He speaks here with PracticeUpdate about practical, career-related considerations that a person in the early stages of his or her career should think about when faced with moving to a new job. In this second part of the interview, Dr. Grivas talks about being open to constructive feedback and maintaining connections with the institution just left.
Part 2: Personal development
PracticeUpdate: What’s involved in developing yourself personally, professionally, in a new environment?
Dr. Grivas: A relevant factor is, I would say, visibility within the institution and outside the institution. And visibility comes in many shapes. An institution that has a small welcome event, even if it’s only a half-hour or one-hour luncheon with the faculty, shows respect to you as the incoming individual and it helps you meet other people, show face, and be recognizable. Also, it’s important to recognize the efforts that a new comer makes in order to promote research or even excellence in patient care.
Feeling rewarded and respected is important, and positive reinforcement is one of the key determinants of success and maintaining good behavior. So, I think it’s important to be at an institution where recognition counts, but also being open to constructive feedback at the same time. When you move to a new institution, be open to constructive feedback and continuously seek feedback to improve yourself.
Nobody should stay complacent. All of us can improve. I’m always seeking feedback, and then I use this feedback constructively to shore up weaknesses or to build up strengths. Seeking feedback is key for everybody, no matter what job they do. Sometimes people have a hard time either accepting or giving feedback to others. Again, I think this is a very important message.
The other thing is to make sure that the institution allows you, or at least supports you, being mentored yourself: You are being mentored by more senior faculty, and, at the same time, you may be mentoring fellows already. It’s important to have both, to be on both sides of the equation.
The last thing I would say is that being a good citizen and helping other people is the ultimate nature of what we do. I think doing the right thing at every single timepoint is important; your reputation precedes you. Sometimes you may do things that take up your time or take effort, but they are the right things to do. Always do the right thing, and people will recognize it; and do it for the right reasons, not because you want something out of it, but because you think it is the right thing to do.
Having said that, it’s okay to say no to things if you think your plate is full. If you are doing too many things and you’re overcommitted, and overwhelmed, it’s fine to ask for help and ask for guidance; it’s okay to communicate with your colleagues, and say, “I have too much, I’m at my maximum here. I cannot take this on. Can someone else help with that?” It’s perfectly fine, even if you are junior faculty, to do that.
Maintain connections with your prior institution and always leave as a friend. Maintain connections with your colleagues there. You always want to leave on good terms and always recognize the help and support you’ve had at your previous institution. Always give credit to your mentors, mentees, colleagues at the previous institution; it’s very important to do that.