By Charoo Piplani
Remember the days when the medical journey seemed like a straightforward path of applications and interviews? Ha! In retrospect, however, it was never nearly as straightforward as it appeared. We have always needed our networks or people with whom we built connections on our journey. Remember the high school teacher who wrote you that letter of recommendation, or the attending who made that phone call, or even your peers who were kind enough to introduce you to another superior at a new institution? They were all very much a part of networking.
Networking in healthcare has traditionally revolved around in-person collaborations, mentorship, and shared research interests—amidst those awkward elevator rides with experts in the field. However, in the era of virtual connections, platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter have emerged as powerful gateways. Who knew that these platforms weren’t just for memes and job postings? And thankfully so, especially during the pandemic. It made the world seem smaller and helped create collaborations spanning across continents. I read a funny analogy, imagining them as tickets to virtual ballrooms, waltzing through profiles and forging connections, and rightfully so.
For me, graduating and stepping into the pandemic felt like receiving a medical degree with a side of uncertainty. As an international graduate without personal or professional connections in the United States, the path often seemed perplexing. However, I soon realized that navigating through the unknown was an integral part of the game, and so, my quest amid a global crisis began.
During the pandemic while working in India, these social networks were my constant source to reach out to attending consultants and superiors in the field for collaborations and research opportunities. Along the way, I established beautiful connections with like-minded individuals in the field. Emailing them directly has been an integral part of this process and allowing for a more personalized approach. Imagine a kind third-year surgical resident taking the time to sit down and rearrange my CV or explaining the nuances of the system I wasn’t familiar with. Picture collaborating with researchers from two reputable medical institutions in the US to collaborate on research. The virtual gateways have not only helped nurture these relationships, but enabled me to continually be in touch with one another about our career progression, professional work, research to name a few. Similar to in-person collaborations, the virtual realm became our reality and proved quite helpful in the process. It not only allowed us to discuss their work but also share personal interests and articulate the future we envision in the medical field. It has opened doors for all of us, creating opportunities that we might not have stumbled upon otherwise.
The new age handshake is just a click away, and frankly faster than a stat order. So don’t hold back, be respectful, and good luck! Cheers to forging connections that go beyond borders and reshape the way we approach our medical careers.
Charoo Piplani is an international medical graduate from India, currently working as a research fellow in Acute Care Surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She is passionate about pursuing academic surgery as a career and is committed to promoting equity, diversity in healthcare, and sustainable living. In her free time, she finds joy in painting, hiking, and the companionship of dogs. You can find her on Twitter @charoo_piplani