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Table 5 Recommendations for junior academics

From: Academic career in medicine – requirements and conditions for successful advancement in Switzerland




Career planning


You should consider the career path you want to take at an early stage, pursue it single-mindedly, think ahead, plan forward, think about what an academic career means, be clear about the amount of time involved, plan a stay abroad in good time.



You should start on research right after finals or perhaps even complete a PhD course and only then continue clinical training. If you take on a clinical job immediately and want to establish yourself academically at the same time, the effort involved makes this extremely difficult. They are both so different from a methodological point of view that it is hard to cope with them together. If you can concentrate on academic work for a while you learn working techniques, are able to go into things in more depth and set a few projects in motion. This makes it much easier to find your feet.



I would recommend that those who want to make a career in surgery go straight into a large hospital.



Early on you should join an established research team with a good team culture. In such a group you should actively approach people who can advise you and provide a good introduction to academic work.


Interest in and enjoyment of research


You have to be deeply interested in research and must not stop enjoying it. Quality of life is better if your work gives you pleasure.



You need power, frustration tolerance and stamina (like a marathon runner or mountaineer, not like someone in the pub).




The most important thing of all is to have mentors, firstly as personal advisors and secondly as scientific role models. You should actively seek mentors out. It is difficult to fight your way through alone. At the start it could even be a peer mentor who is a bit ahead of you, but later on an advanced academic should definitely take on the mentoring role; sometimes this can be the head of department or another superior.



It is important to have a large network, including those of similar age who are somewhat further on.



You have to build a definite network for yourself, not only at local but also at international level. Switzerland is too small to manage without networks. You learn from others the right and wrong moves they have made in their careers.