Question of the Week: Moving Up in My Activities

March 19, 2021

Question: I’m part of a student organization that I enjoy and could move into an officer position, but I don’t think that I have the time or the interest in the kinds of responsibilities I’d have as a leader. Is an upward progression in position necessary or desired when working with an organization?
Answer: Not necessarily, but it doesn't hurt. You'll want to think through and reflect on not only why you start the activities that you choose to do, but also why you choose not to move up, or why you move on to other priorities. Generally, personal and professional growth is valued in medicine (and in life!) – just staying in your comfort zone and being good at what you do in all academic and cocurricular activities will not give you the room to learn more about what you like and don’t like, or give you a chance work on areas that will help you be even better. As you reflect on your decision to not move up in an org, is it because you’re not confident in your communication or teamwork skills (two important competency areas for prehealth students)? This could be a good reason to take that leadership role and work on those skills. Is it because you don’t love how the current leadership of the org is managing things? Becoming a leader is a great chance to try to create change! Is it because you just love what you’re able to contribute as a member and want to keep doing that rather than move into other duties and responsibilities? That could be a good reason to stick with what you’re doing. That said, balance is key to everything as a prehealth student. You can’t do everything. Maximizing your time to challenge yourself enough, but not too much, is hard to do and will require a lot of trial and error. We’re happy to chat with you about the “big picture.”
Relatedly, reflect on whether or not you've gained all that you want to gain from an opportunity. Could you articulate the decision to discontinue an activity to a stranger and have the decision make sense to them? I think there is something to be said for not jumping from activity to activity but staying put for a little while to really get to know an organization (i.e., depth not breadth). But sometimes you'll know that it's time to move on, and that's okay too.

QOTW 2020: PDFing Sciences in Spring 2020
QOTW 2019: Specialties