How Do You Network?

Matthew D. Beal, MD | Cara A. Cipriano, MD, MSc | Joshua C. Patt, MD, MPH, FAAOS, FAOA

January 13, 2021

One of the most rewarding parts of practicing orthopaedic surgery is the close professional connections that become your network locally, nationally, and even internationally. Networking is an essential tool for career development and personal growth.  Moreover, there is evidence that connectedness is an important concept that can increase happiness, decrease burnout, and get people through challenging times. These principles can help you build your practice, access opportunities, and become more connected in your professional community.

The sooner that you realize the value of building your personal network, the broader that network will be. From day one of interviewing for residency, start remembering the names and personalities of people you meet throughout your training. I still interact with colleagues I met in medical school, during residency, interviewing for fellowships and as a fellow. I started out making lists on paper, then on a Palm Pilot, then onto the Blackberry and finally on my iPhone. Writing that out certainly makes me feel old!

Attending and participating in meetings, even virtually, is an essential networking element. You will frequently be surrounded by colleagues and leaders with similar interests, so it is important to put away your social anxiety and tendencies towards introversion and put yourself out there. Remember, these people, and especially the leaders, are there for the same reason! Others want to meet you too. Networking at meetings will pay huge dividends for future jobs, research collaboratives and general career development.

One aspect of networking today that has changed dramatically in recent years and more so during the pandemic is digital networking.  In the medical world, Twitter seems to be the most prevalent platform professionally. The ability to network and meet new “friends” has never been more important than during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Doximity and even Tik Tok have brought many people closer together and made the socially-distanced world feel a bit closer. I have seen countless cases of mentoring relationships built over social media in 2020 alone. It has certainly had a major impact on the residency match process that we are currently in the heart of now.

Networking is without question an essential tool for career development with a wide array of benefits.  In many ways it is like mentoring and can benefit all parties involved. The lesson learned from 2020 is to be creative and think outside the box  as networking is not one thing but a continuum of professional/social interactions that can push you forward in your career but can also provide a new wellness outlet for many.

DISCLOSURES: Dr. Beal AAOS: Board or committee member, American Orthopaedic Association, Board or committee member, Medacta: IP royalties; Paid consultant; Research support, National Institute of Health (NIAMS & NICHD), Zimmer, Stryker, Mako Surgical: Research support, Zimmer: Paid consultant Dr. Cipriano KCI: Paid consultant, Link Orthopaedics: Paid consultant, Musculoskeletal Tumor Society: Board or committee member Dr. Patt American Orthopaedic Association: Board or committee member, North American Spine Society: Board or committee member.

Read the AAOS Code of Conduct for Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE.

Copyright© 2021 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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