Joana Roseira works as a full-time gastroenterology assistant at Algarve University Hospital Center in the South of Portugal and started her PhD in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. She is involved in international and national IBD societies’ initiatives (ECCO, GEDII) and has been collaborating with UEG through the years, chairing UEG Week sessions, working as a volunteer reviewer for UEG Journal. In January 2023 she started as UEG Journal Trainee Editor.
What do you like most in your current professional role as a Gastroenterologist?
I love the busy, lively days of gastroenterology and endoscopy! Ward, endoscopy unit, day hospital, outpatient clinic, emergency setting! It really is the dynamic for me! Always on the run, never bored! One thing that I also really enjoy is mentoring younger colleagues! Over time, we become more aware of problems within the hospital and certain departments, and it can be demotivating. Also, there are difficult days as we deal with a lot of cases of GI cancer and complicated IBD. Young residents are full of wonder, energy, and joy! I find it contagious! Teaching helps me keep my motivation alive.
What were your best career decisions?
One of my best career decisions was certainly to do my residency in a smaller hospital in Algarve in the South of the country. Though it is a University Hospital, it is very different in size and resources from the central hospitals in Lisbon where I used to live. I had many opportunities there as I was the only resident in the department for several years – more patients, more endoscopy, digestive and biliary endoscopy taught one-on-one (what a luxury!), more involvement in clinical investigation and trials, and the opportunity to later dedicate myself to IBD which was my area of interest. Moreover, I always apply to every position and opportunity I want for myself! I am very resilient and optimistic! Even if you think you don’t have a chance and that there will be someone better prepared than you, go for it. This year was the second time I applied for the UEG Journal Trainee Editor position. I was not selected the first time, in 2020. I worked through the years so I would have a more competitive curriculum this time, and I applied again! I suspect this will also turn out to be one of the best decisions in my career!
Which obstacles and difficulties did you face and how did you overcome them?
You get a lot of negative responses when you are a dreamer! I believe this is the hardest part. If you apply for big opportunities for example, or submit your papers to impactful journals, you have to be prepared to face that you/your work is not ready, prepared or good enough. This is not easy, and you may feel that your effort, dedication, and value are being questioned. But for me, it keeps me humble and ultimately works as fuel to try and do better. Secondly, I care to much, meaning that difficult cases really tear my heart apart sometimes. I am still learning how to distance myself enough to keep going without losing this loving heart of mine. Lastly, another big difficulty that I will still need to learn how to tackle is to adequately balance work and family life. My husband is a colorectal surgeon and we both dedicate most of our time to clinical practice and scientific investigation. We understand each other, we support each other, we complain about our busy lives, but we go and take nature sunset walks weekly and invigorating beach holidays yearly and keep going. After a while, this is what people expect from you! However, I just had my first baby, and balancing societal gender role expectations of motherhood are a new challenge in my life.
Based on your personal experience, what are your tips for young GIs starting their career?
- Find a field you love and that you are passionate about! It is probably really hard to build a career that is all about hard work and consistency if you don’t find your days joyful.
- Don’t be afraid to take some “steps down”. In my case, choosing a smaller hospital with a less sounding name gave me more opportunities during residency and as a young assistant.
- Be humble but dream big.
- Surround yourself with people that will believe in you (either mentors, friends, or family) even when you are questioning yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to try again. Bigger battles have more rounds.
- As a working mum, know your rights and assert your rights.
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