If the thought of leaving medicine has crossed your mind more than once, you're not alone. A recent University of Minnesota study found that physicians are leaving the field at a rate four times higher than before the pandemic.
But, what if the grass isn't greener on the other side? Or maybe worse, you can't even get to the other side.
When considering a departure from clinical practice, your mind may be flooded with what seems like an unending list of questions that feel overwhelming. Many of the questions will be unproductive and only serve to raise your level of fear and anxiety.
And when you're feeling fearful and anxious, you're unlikely to take any meaningful action that will help you determine if a career change is right for you.
Instead of staying stuck in this cycle, here are 5 questions that will help you to decide if you're ready to take the leap.
1. What is it costing you to stay in your current position?
Consider the total costs of being in a clinical position vs a non-clinical position. Most people only look at salary, but ask yourself what it’s costing you to stay in a position that doesn’t work for you. If nothing were to change, what is the impact that your current position is having on the things that matter most to you - your health, your relationships, your happiness. Weigh that against the value you place on the space and balance that a nonclinical career may afford.
2. What approach am I taking to make this decision?
Changing careers after the investment of time, money and energy is a big decision and not one to be taken lightly. It's important that you are clear on the reasons you want to make the decision to leave clinical practice AND why you would want to pursue a nonclinical career. Don’t make a decision from a place of confusion or desperation. You want to make your decision from an empowering place with clarity and intention.
3. What options haven't I considered?
When we feel like our back is up against a wall and something needs to change now, it's tempting to look at your options as all or none - stay where I am now or quit and find a nonclinical position. But life is not always black and white and there are many possibilities in between. Be willing and open to explore all of your options. In the land where anything is possible, dream big and don’t censor yourself. Consider whether staying in clinical practice is a viable option, but in a different position that better fits the lifestyle you desire. Taking a bridge position that allows you to have some space to take care of yourself is a smart strategy so that you can find a career you love for the long-term. Sit down and brainstorm ideas and enlist the help of a trusted friend, advisor or coach to help you think outside of the box.
4. If you could do anything you wanted to do, what would it be?
As a pediatrician, I often asked kids what they wanted to do when they grow up. This is different than the question I was asked when I was younger which is who I wanted to be. We often equate what we do with who we are, but they are not one and the same. If you decide to leave clinical practice, you may find that it's hard to envision yourself doing anything else because being a doctor who sees patients has become a part of your identity. Over time, you may have lost touch with who you are today and what you want at this time in your life. Spend some time getting clear on what you really want. Give yourself time and permission to figure it out. If you’re not sure what you want, start with what you don’t want (we’re usually clearer on that) and work backwards.
5. Who can I reach out to for help to better inform my decision?
Over the years you've invested to earn your medical degree and beyond you have likely created numerous connections. Conduct some informational interviews to learn more about nonclinical careers that interest you. Look at connections you may have on LinkedIn and send them a message to ask for 15-20 min of their time to learn more about their position. Send invitations to make meaningful connections with new individuals to build and grow your network. Approximately 85% of jobs are filled by word of mouth. This is the power of networking. Ask questions, seek advice and tell people what it is you really want to do. Most physicians who have made the transition are happy to share their journey - the good, the bad and the ugly - which can ultimately inform your own decision-making.
So, now you have some high-quality questions that will better serve you as you consider if you're ready for a career transition at this time. And, I want to remind you that a better career experience is possible for you. You can find work that is fulfilling and allows for a better sense of balance across all areas of your life.
Lean in and be honest with yourself. And if you would like some help with your decision-making process, I invite you to reach out to connect with me. I'd be happy to share my own story that led to my successful transition and support you in gaining the clarity you need to make an empowered and informed decision.
Click here to send me a private message letting me know you want to talk and I'll share the link to my online calendar so we can find a convenient time to connect.
A career in medicine is gratifying and immensely rewarding. And the realities of practice don't often match the expectations you had when you first entered the field. Clinical practice is often stressful as a result of the demanding schedule, important responsibilities you’re entrusted with and the challenge it imposes on the balance between personal and professional life.
Vacations can help you to restore that balance and feeling of calm as you take a break from all the demands of day to day life. But, you don't have to wait until you go on vacation. There is a simple exercise you can practice that will allow you to take a “vacation” whenever you need a break. Incorporate this exercise into your daily or weekly routine to help you return to a sense of calm and control whenever you need it.
Allow 10-15 minutes of time where you are not likely to be distracted.
Although 10-15 minutes can transport you to another place, even a brief practice can activate the relaxation response. If you're short on time, aim for 3-5 minutes.
So here's my challenge to you. Commit to explore this practice at least once over the next week.
I'd love to hear about your experience with this practice. Let me know what impact it had for you. And, if you feel like this isn't something that would work for you, I'm interested in hearing why. Share your perspective in the comments below or send me a personal note, email@example.com.
Tired and Busy. Are you feeling one or both?
October through December has traditionally been the busiest period of the year for me. The activities would change from year-to-year, but the resulting busyness (and associated fatigue) remained the same.
Like the year I was scheduled to present on the importance of physician self-care at 3 conferences - 2 national and 1 international - in a 6-week span while maintaining my clinical practice, family responsibilities, etc. (And no, the irony is not lost on me that I was promoting self-care while being over-committed and over-scheduled myself).
Since making the transition to a nonclinical position, maintaining a clinical practice has fallen away, but the tendency to overcommit is still present.
In reflecting on why, I find that there is a resistance to rest. It's as if someone forgot to add a "Rest Mode" switch and my internal default setting is stuck on "Busy Mode".
Although I tell myself that I want more space in my schedule...more breathing room...the "doing" feels more familiar than the "being".
I am craving rest, but it takes additional mental and emotional energy to change the habits that have previously led to an overpacked schedule of activities and commitments.
So, what helps to create new habits that allow rest? Here are a few of the tips I've been practicing to get more rest.
And here's a bonus tip: Write a personal vision for deep rest and explore how you can give yourself permission to have it.
Anne Lamott says, "When you rest, you catch your breath and it holds you up, like water wings..."
Take a break. Exhale audibly. Allow your breath to hold you up like water wings.
Tell me which of the tips spoke to you the most in the comments below.
And if you have a suggestion for what to add to the list, I'd love to hear it, Michelle@drmichellebailey.com.
Over the past 2 years there have been an increasing number of articles citing the increasing number of physicians leaving clinical practice.
While you may think that this is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the change began in the years prior. The pandemic simply accelerated the exodus.
The majority of physicians have at least entertained the thought about leaving practice. But, then the onslaught of questions begins when faced with the reality of what you could possibly do (and be qualified for) if you were to seriously pursue a nonclinical career.
If you are a physician considering a departure from clinical practice, here are 7 important questions to ask yourself before making the leap.
1. What is your honest assessment of your current career?
It's important to take a look at the bigger picture before making a decision to leave your career. Start with identifying what's currently working well. These things are usually drowned out by the louder noise of what's not working well. Both are equally important to inform your decision-making. Don't forget to ask yourself what may be missing from your career as well. Maybe it's important that you work for an organization where breaks are built into the schedule or there are opportunities to be involved in advocacy or community engagement initiatives. Create 3 columns on a page and write down your answers to each of these questions. That will give you a good overview of how well your current career is working for you.
2. Why do you want to leave your current position?
This question comes up in job interviews and it's helpful to have genuinely thoughts about this beforehand. You want to have a compelling reason for making a change. This will help keep you motivated when you come up against obstacles on your career transition journey. Know your reasons for wanting to leave (top 3). Like your reasons for wanting to leave. Being crystal clear about this will help you come across more confidently when you're talking about your decision to leave with your loved ones, colleagues and future employers. Write down or print out your compelling reason and keep it visible as a reminder while you're taking action to explore new opportunities.
3. What career is a good fit with your core values?
Sometimes physicians will focus on a nonclinical career that they saw someone else make successfully, without fully vetting the field at a high and granular level. You want to find a position in an industry that supports what matters to you and doesn't run counter to your core beliefs and values. As a pediatrician, I would never consider working for an organization that disempowers women and children. Think about the values that you uphold and look at potential job opportunities through that lens. Prioritize conversations with physicians who are in roles and organizations that you are interested in to learn what the day to day work is like. It can help you to better determine whether pursuing positions in that field may or may not be a good fit.
4. What are the most common barriers to getting your foot in the door of your desired nonclinical career?
It's typically more common to see the stories of success for physician career transitions, but the challenges present leading up to that leap may remain untold. Expect obstacles to entry and don't be afraid to fail along the way. Identify your own perceived barriers and make a list. Examples may be feeling like you're not qualified for the positions you're interested in or not understanding all of the requirements needed to be competitive outside of the clinical world. Then talk to physicians who have successfully made the leap and ask them to share what barriers they encountered and how they overcame them.
5. Beyond your career, what's most important to you in your life?
Take into account what you need for your overall life, not just in your career. Work-life balance is a myth. You are living your life when you are working; you can't separate these out. Do you need a certain salary requirement to cover your living expenses, without having to significantly change your current lifestyle? If yes, know your number as you will want to focus on positions where the minimum starting salary meets or exceeds this number. Do you want more flexibility in your schedule so that you can pick up your child from school? Look for positions where you can work remotely or work flexible hours around your child's school schedule. Set an intention to create a work opportunity that supports the things that are most important to you.
6. How willing are you to tolerate uncomfortable emotions?
Transitions mean change and challenges are typically an associated by-product. Along the way to your nonclinical position, you will encounter situations that are unfamiliar, pushing you gently (and sometimes not so gently) out of your comfort zone. You will become a learner again. Learning a new culture, new systems and applying your medical knowledge, experience and skills in a new way. This drops you into that uncomfortable space where you become acutely aware of how much you don't know (think back to first day of intern year). A key strategy to successfully making the transition to a nonclinical career and thriving in your new role, is mastering your mindset. You will need to manage your thoughts (the ones that fuel self-doubt, confusion and indecision) so as not to sabotage your success. Ask yourself on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is 100% willing, how willing are you to tolerate the uncomfortable emotions that will surface along the way to your desired career? If you're at a 7 or less, seek out a career coach, mentor or trusted advisor to help you with the skills needed to increase your rating to an 8 or higher.
7. What planning and preparation do you need to do before making the transition?
The most successful transitions (and outcomes post-transition) result from planning and preparation. Start with identifying your timeline. When you do you want to leave your current position? When do you want to start your new position? You may decide to build in some downtime in between jobs. How much notice do you need to give your current employer/practice partners? What is the expected time to start your new position once accepting the offer? Sit down and brainstorm a list of questions that need to be answered and tasks that need to be completed. Once you have your list, you can develop your personalized strategic action plan to get you to your goal.
Answering the above questions can prove helpful in your decision-making process and serve to strengthen your commitment to move forward in your search for a nonclinical career.
Which question do you find most helpful? Let me know in the comments below or feel free to send me a personal note at Michelle@DrMichelleBailey.com.
Recently in my conversations with physicians who are exploring nonclinical careers, some have expressed frustration that the job search is going as well as they would like.
They feel like their time is already so limited and the time they are spending to find a nonclinical career seems like one dead end after another.
It can be disappointing to not see the results of your efforts when your time feels so limited. So what can you do to get better results?
Here are 3 strategies that I share with my clients to help them get a better return on their investment of time and accelerate their career transition.
Implementing one or more of these strategies can significantly accelerate your career transition. I suggest making plans to incorporate all three into your job search strategy.
Which strategy will you start with this week?
Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
Einstein, considered by many to be the greatest mind of the 20th century, was known for mulling over his questions until falling into a semi-trance. In these states of deep contemplation, he made fascinating discoveries, then spent countless hours working back out of the maze to make his discoveries translatable to others.
The secret to sustainable success in any arena is not, as many believe, to be the smartest or most educated person in the room, or to be born into wealth and opportunity. Rather, the secret is to become so focused on the goal and so determined not to give up that all distractions fade into the background, and the answers rise to the top.
If you would like to see more success in your endeavors, here are 3 simple tips to help you get and stay focused so you can achieve your goals:
1. Think “Micro”
Studies have shown that humans get overwhelmed and become less productive when focusing on too many things at once. The concept of multitasking is a misnomer as we can only effectively focus on one thing at a time. So, pick one small aspect of whatever you’re doing and give it your full attention. Practice monotasking.
2. Give Yourself Permission to “Go There”
Oftentimes, we don’t give something the necessary attention because we feel we cannot disengage from all the other demands in our life. Give yourself permission to let everything else go for a while. De-prioritize to re-prioritize, and be okay with the fact that in order to say ‘Yes’ to what you want, you must say ‘No’ to something else.
3. Give Yourself More Time
With deadlines looming, it’s easy to shortchange yourself on the amount of time actually needed for excellence. Ask for more time if you need it. OR, refer to tip number 2 to create more space in your life. Progress takes persistence and persistence takes time. Practice building more margin into your schedule.
You don’t have to be an Einstein to let your genius shine through. Brilliance belongs to everyone…you just have to drill deep to get to the gold.
Which tip will you incorporate this week to unlock your brilliance and get the important things done?
The Physician Career Path Reimagined
Copyright 2019-2021. Michelle Bailey & Company, LLC.
www.drmichellebailey.com. All Rights Reserved.
www.drmichellebailey.com. All Rights Reserved.
Proudly powered by Weebly