Introducing YoungEHA: you don’t have to grow old to make a difference

By Dr. Fabienne Lucas, MD PhD, YoungEHA Committee.

Hearing exciting new research, attending lectures by leaders in the field, and networking are some of the obvious things that are happening during the annual EHA congress. But there is a lot more going on. The inaugural meeting in 2013 of what is now known as the YoungEHA committee for example. Inspired by the supportive and rewarding environment of the EHA/ASH TRTH program (check it out under https://ehaweb.org/youngeha/navigate-hematology/ editorial note: add link), TRTH alumni wanted to create a supportive environment for the large community of younger scientists and clinicians. A few years later, with the backing of EHA staff and EHA senior leadership, YoungEHA is an independent committee with a big mission: support and represent early career scientists and clinicians in hematology.

So who exactly is an early career scientist or clinician, and what does “young” mean?

Let’s say you are an undergraduate or medical student and want to learn more about hematology and if “this is for you”. Maybe even attend an EHA event such as the congress or one of the workshop. You are definitely early career!

You are a trainee in a medical residency, or a graduate student pursuing a PhD. Yes, YOU are early career, and also young, even if long days in the hospital or the lab make you feel very old and tired.

You are still a trainee, but have some more experience under your belt, and now you need a grant or some funding to move to a more senior or your first independent position. Still early career stages and young-ish (while probably having bouts of panicky thoughts that you don’t know enough to take on such a big responsibility - this is called imposter syndrome, and will maybe be the topic for a future blog)!

“I first attended the EHA congress in 2006, while I was a medical student, and this experience solidified my interest in hematology”, says Marek Mraz, a scientist from Czech Republic and one of the current YoungEHA committee members. Michaela Gruber, another YoungEHA committee member and physician scientist in Austria, had a similar experience: “My first contact with EHA was as a medical student when I presented a poster at the annual meeting in 2008. I was excited but also overwhelmed and felt a bit lost”. Christian Scharenberg, a German-trained physician scientist working in Sweden and also YoungEHA, adds: “It was during my TRTH class when I realized the possibilities of EHA to advance hematology, and EHA’s potential in fostering the community of hematologists in Europe”. Heiko Becker, YoungEHA chair-elect and a physician scientist in Germany, reflects: “Having recently gone through the transition from being a trainee to becoming an independent physician scientist made me very much aware of obstacles and the need for supportive resources”.

These statements highlight that different career tracks and career stages face different challenges, and that they are often unique to a specific country. Many national societies have already recognized the importance of early career support, and have therefore created programs to support their younger colleagues in their training and mentoring needs. However, cancers don’t read book, and they mostly don’t care about geographic borders - changing the outcome of cancer is therefore a global mission, and an effort that requires a diverse group of people with different skill sets and backgrounds.

YoungEHA believes that you don’t have to be old or distinguished, and that you don’t have to have a certain training or a specific background or be in one country to make a difference in hematology. It takes a “European village”, diversity, and a common vision to facilitate change. Change that will ultimately benefit our patients, but also change in how we work, collaborate and communicate on a day-to-day basis, and how we train the next generation of scientists and physicians. YoungEHA is committed to YOU and to helping you advance your hematology career so YOU can be the change.  

There are many ways you can rely on YoungEHA:

First, YoungEHA is everybody! So get in touch, get involved and share your thoughts and needs.

YoungEHA is a major force at the annual congress. Follow the YoungEHA website to prepare for the congress, to learn about presentation skills and how to get the most of your attendance. The day before the congress, join us for the YERM meeting featuring local early career scientists. During the congress, look for the YoungEHA track and attend sessions that are especially relevant for early career scientists and hematologists. And of course there are the early career reception and EHA groves to meet your peers and make new friends.

YoungEHA is EHA’s official line of communication with early career groups in national and other professional societies. YoungEHA is therefore constantly reaching out and connecting to identify what is “hot” and relevant.

YoungEHA has also created this website as a resource to learn, to develop yourself, and to network. To learn about grants, awards and funding opportunities. To foster collaborations and to build friendships across Europe. To ask questions, to be heard, and get support.

Together, we can come up with new and maybe unconventional ways, we can inspire and think outside the box.

#YoungEHA #ChangeOfMindset #VisionOfYourFuture #VisionInHematology                                            

Editorial note: this blog is published on the official YoungEHA website and monitored by EHA and YoungEHA committee members and communication ambassadors. It does not reflect the official opinion of or recommendations by EHA, but solely the blog author’s point of view. Are you interested in contributing to the YoungEHA blog? Contact youngeha@ehaweb.org.                 

Last Updated on Monday 27 May 2019.