The Value of Membership for Residents and Medical Students

Given all the responsibilities incumbent upon medical students and residents, it is difficult to imagine that there would be time to devote, let alone tangible benefits, to joining a professional organization.  It is more than understandable to think that you will “just get to that kind of stuff later” when you "have more time” or the other common thought “even if I got involved, what could someone at my level contribute when there are so many others that are more experienced than me.”  Countless medical students and residents have themselves asked questions like these and others of similar sentiment.  These questions are at the heart of the barriers to capturing the attention of younger physicians and medical students and engaging them in the many opportunities and benefits that organizations like the New Jersey Psychiatric Association (NJPA) provide.

The answer to these questions is both simple and often surprising.  The amount of time involved in joining these organizations ranges the gamut from as little to as much as you are able to contribute.   Some members simply read the newsletter.  Others may track legislation and its impact on their practice, while some will attend education or networking events.  Then there are those that will involve themselves much further and take advantage of leadership, training workshops, or committee and council positions.  Residents have served on numerous committees within the NJPA, including a recent resident member who served as an executive committee member for the first time in NJPA history. Many positions are available each year, and the first place to start to pursue involvement would be to express interest to the NJPA staff who will answer any questions you may have. 

The common mistake most medical students and residents make that keep them from joining leadership groups is their assumption that there is little they can contribute to state and national organizations out of fear of comparatively lacking clinical experience to those that have been in leadership for many years.  This concern is understandable, but it ultimately prevents organizations such as the NJPA from learning from an important segment of the medical profession, the next generation of physicians.  That voice is invaluable for the NJPA to understand the direction of medicine, and the practice challenges facing today’s psychiatrists and then develop and implement member benefits accordingly. As a result, students and residents will be better served and prepared for clinical practice in whatever state, program, or employment opportunity they find themselves in. 

The NJPA encourages residents and medical students to use valuable member resources even if they are not ready for involvement at any other level. The opportunities for networking and mentorship are innumerable.  There are countless members that are passionate about mentoring young physicians and students that express interest in psychiatry.  The NJPA will connect you with these clinicians in the areas you are most interested to help you grow in your training while at the same time connecting you with valuable resources.  Residents can also access NJPA staff to obtain practical assistance such as obtaining attorney’s names for contract review or resources for setting up a practice.   

Finally, joining your professional organizations is important as a physician so that the psychiatric profession can speak to issues affecting patient care in one powerful and united voice. Being a member adds a voice, your voice, to the debate on issues that face our healthcare community, both locally and nationally. The power of organizations like NJPA lies in its ability to maintain a strong core of members.  Simply put, there is power in numbers; the more that join the NJPA the stronger our ability to affect the changes that are important for our ability to practice at the highest standards of care and represent the issues most pressing to the patients in our community.  It is incumbent upon all physicians to take this responsibility to heart. Do not fall victim to the common mistake and assume there is no role for you in this process and our organization. NJPA welcomes any student or resident that expresses their interest and is willing to devote time to the New Jersey Psychiatric Association. 

While the New Jersey Psychiatric Association (NJPA) makes every effort to post accurate and reliable information, it does not guarantee that the information on this website is complete, accurate or up to date, nor does it assume responsibility for the use or application of any posted material. The NJPA takes no responsibility for any error, omission or other discrepancy between the electronic and any printed versions of documents. This website is intended solely for the purpose of electronically providing members, non-member psychiatrists and the public with information and convenient access to a variety of resources. The NJPA cannot provide specific advice or counsel, whether medical, legal or otherwise. This website links to websites maintained by other entities. Although efforts have been taken to assure that these linked websites are maintained by reputable organizations, the NJPA is not responsible for the information and opinions expressed in those linked sites.