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Getting Another Degree While Working… Or Not?

Written by: Catie Glatz, MD
Published on: May 30, 2024

Questioning Direction

Photo Credit: olyphotostories -

The monthly(-ish) #JHMChat on X, formerly Twitter, is a time to discuss interesting articles in the Journal of Hospital Medicine [The Hospitalist’s sister publication], meet new people, and learn from each other. Our chat this past November was based on this article by Drs. Jennifer Spicer and Samuel Lai about deciding to get a degree while working, and it did not disappoint. We had Dr. Spicer, who received another degree while working, as our guest expert. Among our participants who finished secondary degrees, those actively obtaining their secondary degree, and those who have chosen not to pursue an additional degree (or at least not yet), which provided multiple perspectives to #JHMChat attendees.

We started by discussing the factors to consider in the decision to pursue an advanced degree. Several participants obtained advanced degrees during fellowship or medical school. Hearing their insights was helpful for me, as someone who has occasionally considered going back to school. While others pursued additional training while working as a hospitalist, I found this advice from @EileenBarrettNM to be particularly helpful.

Next, we talked about areas where having that advanced degree could be especially helpful. Attendees commented about how an advanced degree provides you with knowledge of the theory and comfort with the language in a chosen field, which may improve your work. #JHMChat participants also talked about how pursuing a degree may help you secure additional dedicated time and mentorship.

However, while the desire to pursue another degree may be strong, participants admitted that significant barriers often exist, including a lack of time, money, and energy to pursue additional training while working. Several people found “time blocking,” scheduling time in your calendar, to be very helpful. Others arranged protected time with their bosses or fellowship directors or chose to transition to a part-time schedule.

We all agreed that family support (including pets!) was vital to success.

The #PetsofJHMChat will be coming to a #JHMChat near you soon.

While this chat didn’t completely solve my indecision around pursuing a secondary degree, it did help establish a framework to consider my decisions, available resources, and support needed for success. I know that it is a choice that will require thought as well as discussion with others who have accomplished this goal to explore what helped them achieve this goal. I am also working on time-blocking–even when not pursuing extra training, it helps manage competing responsibilities!

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