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Just Say No: Saving Your Sanity While Working in Academic Medicine

David Norris, Jr, MD

David Norris, Jr, MD

Congratulations! You’ve received your appointment as a new faculty. Faculty evaluations and promotion and tenure reviews will arrive before you know it.

One way to shine in your first year, and to build your CV, is by serving on committees, engaging in research, publishing journal articles, and directing educational experiences. When you start, administrative time is likely spent completing your charts and twiddling your thumbs. You will want to fill that time and will be tempted to take the dozens of opportunities that comes your way. And why shouldn’t you be involved? You have the time—right?

Be careful about always saying yes. Beyond settling into your role as a faculty member, you have to protect your mental health. Getting involved in too much, too quickly, will emotionally, psychologically, and physically burn you out. Plus, you’ll miss great opportunities later on if you’re too busy with projects early on that are only of modest interest to you.

However, knowing when to say no—and then actually saying it—can be a challenge.

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