Do you know what your personal mission is? How do you envision using your gifts, talents, and abilities to enrich the lives of others? I know that developing your professional identity can be difficult. For me, a professional society served as an important resource.

Finding your path

Pre-health professions students frequently ask me, “How can I make myself stand out in the applicant pool?” My advice is to focus on what you feel most strongly called to do, rather than thinking about what looks good on your application or CV. Success will follow. It may sound canned or counterintuitive, but this is absolutely the best advice that I was given and it has certainly served me (and many people I know) well.

"I know that following what you love could mean you end up somewhere outside of medicine."

Following my passion for patient-centered care and advocacy has brought me opportunities that fit and led me to the places in medicine that inspire me. Training and working in health care is hard. The success and joy are mixed with moments of frustration and exhaustion. Staying connected to what I love gets me through the difficult parts and keeps me excited about what I do.

Staying honest

I know that following what you love could mean you end up somewhere outside of medicine. Fortunately, we all make the biggest impact when we do what we are passionate about—and that will make your efforts shine and pave the way for your future.

My experience is not unique and I didn’t find these answers alone. I invested in opportunities that appealed to me and reaped the rewards of that investment in the form of new skills, mentors, and peers who inspire me.

The question for you to answer remains: what’s your personal mission, and where in the caring professions will you find its greatest, truest expression? Professional organizations are wonderful places to connect with peers and mentors who can help you find and follow your path.