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Syed T. Hoda

I had three months left in my wonderful bone and soft tissue (BST) pathology fellowship and no plans afterwards and had not even applied for a job. Simultaneously, I had decided that I wouldn't do any more fellowships after this one as it felt like my training finale. It was 2011 and the pathology job market was not doing very well. Too many candidates and too few jobs. My residency colleagues had done between two to four fellowships after residency to ensure they were competitive.

I heard echoes of a certain attending in my residency telling me in commanding terms that doing only one BST fellowship was insufficient to build a career upon. Another attending incredibly told me they felt it wasn’t a fellowship worth doing, which felt jarring to me. Through music and art I've learned that uncommon ways create their own pathways. Curiosity and fascination overcome so much, and this idea helped me greatly. 

I had only two months left in my BST fellowship and made calls to kind senior visiting pathologists I'd met on grand rounds and through mutual connections. With one month left in my BST fellowship, I'd applied to a total of zero jobs. I then happened to speak to someone who led me to a person who told me about another person who told me to call their longtime friend to ask them about some situation and that person told me there was nothing, but they did advise me to simply wait. So I waited.

I finished my BST fellowship, and still hadn’t applied to any jobs. The week after my fellowship ended, at an aptly titled coffee shop named Café Grumpy, I received a phone call from a department chair – a friend of the person who'd told me to wait – who then told me they will now need me. I was being recruited and I couldn't have been more ecstatic.

It's now 12 years since I finished my BST pathology fellowship and still haven't applied for any jobs. I was recruited for my first and second (current) job. I still get recruited often, in fact while writing this story I received an email asking me if I was interested in being vice chair at a large academic institution. Not interested at this time, since I still have my own angular plans!

This story is dedicated to all the trainees and pathologists who are boldly crafting their own stories rather than following someone else’s

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