January 13, 2023

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

Jacob Ormsby, MD, MBA

Jacob Ormsby, MD, MBASomething I continue to ask myself is, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”. This may sound weird as I’ve already finished medical school, decided to pursue radiology with a focus on neuroradiology and I’m now in academics. I have my whole career ahead of me! Perhaps what I’m truly asking is, “What do I want my journey to look like?” And now I’d like us all to consider that we always have room for growth.

To begin answering these questions, we can explore a variety of resources. One of the best resources are the people around us — those who’ve walked the path before us and others who’ve posed the same questions. These individuals often appear in three different capacities — as a coach, mentor or sponsor. While these roles sound similar, they serve different purposes.

A coach is someone who helps evaluate you and your actions, providing feedback, and hopefully continuing to push you toward your maximum capacity to help unlock your full potential. A mentor is someone who gives you advice and to whom you can ask, “How would you approach this problem?” or “How would you handle this situation?” A sponsor is someone willing to be your cheerleader, a person who might say, “Hey, I know someone who would be great for this task.”

The same person could fulfill all three roles, but not necessarily. And it’s plausible that several people could also fill each role. Furthermore, their support doesn’t need to be formal, but I would argue that they need to be effective. If at any time you feel they aren’t helping you on your journey, it’s acceptable to look elsewhere.

Another resource is yourself and personal reflection. Assess your opportunities and see what you can bring to the table, consider how various prospects can propel your next steps and select the ones that you will actually enjoy. When you’re not sure about the opportunity, it’s ok to just say, “Yes” early in your career. Equally, you don’t have to agree to everything. In fact, “No” is a powerful word!

It’s also wise to get into the habit of creating annual goals and determining next steps. One mnemonic I prefer is S.M.A.R.T. goals. With it, you can make sure your goals are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Using this mindset, you are more likely to succeed in achieving your goals.

Now I ask the preliminary question again, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”. I hope the resources above help you all find the answer!