4/30/2023 0 Comments
As a physician, you have spent years developing a wealth of expertise and experience in the clinical setting. However, the demands of the job can be intense, leading many physicians to feel burned out and unfulfilled.
If you are a physician who is feeling exhausted and looking to reimagine your career, here are some tips that may help:
1. Identify your passions and interests outside of medicine
Take some time to reflect on your hobbies, interests, and passions outside of medicine. These could include anything from writing and art to business and technology. Identifying your passions can help you to explore non-clinical career options that align with your values and bring you joy.
2. Consider your transferable skills
As a physician, you have developed a wide range of skills that are valuable in many non-clinical careers. These skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, leadership, and teamwork. Think about how you can leverage these skills in a new career.
3. Network with others
Reach out to other physicians who have successfully transitioned to non-clinical careers. Attend conferences and events that are relevant to your interests and meet people who can provide guidance and support. Join online communities and engage with others who are going through similar transitions.
4. Explore non-clinical career options
There are many non-clinical career options available to physicians. These include careers in healthcare administration, medical writing, medical consulting, pharmaceuticals, research, and education. Research different options and think about how your skills and interests align with each one.
5. Consider further education
Depending on the nonclinical career you are interested in, you may need to pursue further education or certification. This could include a Master's degree in business administration, public health, or healthcare administration. Consider the time and financial commitment required before making a decision.
Remember, transitioning to a non-clinical career can take time and effort, but it can also be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Stay focused on your goals, seek support from others, and be open to new possibilities.
If you're thinking about leaving clinical medicine and would like some support on your nonclinical career journey, let's talk.
Schedule a complimentary and confidential Physician Career Path Strategy Session with me. Click here to access my online calendar.
One of my favorite Sunday rituals is to prepare for the coming week. It takes about an hour, including meal planning, updating my calendar, and identifying the top priorities.
But it wasn’t always this way.
There was a time when I dreaded Sundays (that is if I wasn’t already working). It meant the start of a new work week. And work no longer felt fulfilling. Instead, feelings of fulfillment were replaced with dread.
This was one of the first signs that told me it was time to think about doing something else.
Sometimes we are so busy working that we don’t notice the subtle, and not so subtle, indicators that something has gone wrong.
Here are a few signs that you may be ready for a career (or job) change:
Your dread for work starts on Sunday
If you are off but your thoughts are focused on work for most of the day, this one probably applies to you.
This can include planning, ruminating, and complaining.
Some physicians I work with also describe physical symptoms like headache, palpitations, muscle tension, and GI symptoms.
If this happens for you most Sundays, it may be time to consider if it’s time for a change.
You secretly cheer when a patient doesn’t show up
This was me. Not because I didn’t want to see patients, but because a no show might allow me a few minutes to catch up on charting, phone calls, or just some time to breathe and get my bearings.
Plus it meant one less chart to do for that day.
At some point I realized that one of the things I looked forward to most when I started clinical practice was seeing patients.
If I was cheering for them to miss appointments, it was time to look within and ask myself if this was still what I wanted to do.
You find it almost impossible to consistently practice basic self-care
When you spend your days helping others to improve their health and well-being, it feels hypocritical to not take your own advice.
The pace of most clinical practice schedules make it challenging to eat well, move more, and get restorative sleep.
It feels like there is no time for preparing nutritious meals, working out, or getting enough sleep and rest.
Ask yourself what you might need to make small, but meaningful changes to improve these areas while you decide if a longer-term plan is needed to impact this area.
Work has taken over your entire life
Also known as work creep, you may find that it has invaded all areas of your life. Even when you’re not physically at work, you may be taking care of work responsibilities at home.
My then partner, now wife, would say to me that even though I was home, I wasn’t really home.
Although my physical body was home, my mind was elsewhere thinking about the toilet training handout I forgot to give to a mom, or worried about the 6-month old former preemie with fever that I sent to the ER.
In the beginning, you may say to yourself that you’re just in a busy season. At some point, you may find that it’s not just a season; it’s busy all the time.
Know that this level of busyness has a cost attached - it affects the quality of your relationships with your family, friends, and most importantly, yourself.
The moments of frustration far outweigh the moments of joy
If I ask you to share examples of your frustration with work versus the things that bring you joy, which list would be longer?
Are you in touch with the moments of joy sprinkled throughout your work day or have they been overshadowed by the annoyances of the day?
I encourage you to do this exercise: get a piece of blank paper and draw a line down the middle - on one side write down all the things that contribute to your sense of unhappiness with work and on the other side write down all the things that bring you joy and satisfaction.
Carry it with you over the next week and add to it. What do you notice?
When you’re looking for the moments of joy and still can’t find enough to balance the moments of frustration, it may be time to consider a change.
You feel undervalued and unappreciated more often than not
When your efforts are not acknowledged and appreciated, it can feel like people are taking advantage of you.
The danger is that the longer you feel this way, the more likely it is that you will begin to devalue the contributions you make.
After my own transition, I noticed how much I had dismissed the value that I bring to my work, team, and environment.
Being in this nonclinical position has reminded me of how much I have to offer and more importantly, how much an organization can place on that value through compensation, promotion, and undisclosed incentives.
You regularly feel exhausted and overwhelmed by work
It can be mentally and emotionally draining to work in an environment that doesn’t feel supportive.
The external pressures of the work, including the high stakes of life-or-death decisions, is compounded by the internal pressures we put on ourselves to be perfect in a world where perfection is expected, but not possible.
We are human. And to my knowledge, humans are not perfect. None of us.
If you are feeling burned out, take action to address it. Find someone you trust and ask for help.
And if you are feeling hopeless and considering suicide, please seek help.
You can reach out to The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
You have a choice. You can leverage your medical degree to make a meaningful impact outside of clinical practice.
You know in your gut
Sometimes all it takes is being still long enough to hear the whispers that are telling you that it’s time to go.
I knew in my gut for years that it was time to leave medicine. But, I didn’t trust it.
So, I kept myself busy so I wouldn’t have to think about this decision.
And I continued to make changes in an effort to feel better. Nothing really helped in the long-term because I wasn’t addressing the core issue.
Your gut doesn’t lie. Listen to it.
You’re reading this
There is a reason that you decided to invest your precious time to read this article.
Take that to heart.
The above signs are just a few. I experienced several of the signs on the list. And so have many of the physicians I coach who are considering a departure from clinical practice.
Think of these signs as dashboard indicators. If the light is on it’s trying to get your attention.
You can ignore it, minimize it, or dismiss it. But the problem will still be there.
If you’re ready to explore what may exist for you beyond clinical practice, let’s talk.
Click here to schedule some time on my online calendar or send me a confidential message.
4/16/2023 0 Comments
If you’re a physician who has thought about making the leap to a nonclinical career, you’re not alone.
In January 2022, the AMA published an article about medicine’s great resignation noting that 1 in 5 doctors plan to exit in 2 years.
The surprising thing is that many physicians think about leaving medicine for years before they actually do it and some never take the steps required to make the change.
If you’ve been thinking about making the move for more than 6 months, here are a few myths that may be contributing to your delayed action.
Myth #1 - You have to stay in the same career/position for the duration of your career
It's natural to want different things as your priorities shift throughout the seasons of your life. And if you think that there is something wrong with wanting a change, you may unknowingly sabotage your efforts to do so.
You don’t need a “valid reason” to justify exploring a new career path such as a move to support your spouse or significant other, or to stay home with the children (yes, men I’m talking to you too as an increasing number of men are deciding to be stay-at-home dads so they don’t miss out on their kids early years).
Give yourself permission to want what you want. If that means a change of position or career, so be it. Whatever your reasons, don’t be afraid to dream. I think it is a dying art that needs to be revived.
If you believed that anything was possible and knew you couldn’t fail, what would you want to do? If you haven’t asked yourself this question in a while (or ever), carve out a little dream time this week to see what comes up.
Myth #2 - Leaving clinical practice means you aren’t a doctor anymore.
This was a big one for me. I remember the first time I asked myself the question, “What if I don’t want to be a doctor anymore?”
In truth, the question I was really struggling with is, “What if I don’t want to see patients anymore?”. This was the one picture I had in my mind of what a doctor was and after all of the time, energy, and sacrifices how could I simply walk away from it all?
I’ve learned a lot since then and now know that there are limitless ways that you can make a meaningful impact on health without seeing individual patients.
But, the one thing that I want to emphasize is that once you’ve earned your medical degree, and the title of doctor, you are and will always be a doctor. You are a physician. No one can take that achievement away from you.
Myth #3 - If you just work a little harder and wait long enough, things will get better.
This one is a trap that many physicians fall into. We tend to be hard workers naturally. This leads to a tendency to overwork. And that overworking can keep you stuck because you never have time to even explore what could be possible outside of your current job.
When you’re always exhausted and often feeling overwhelmed, there is no energy to consider the questions that arise when making a big decision like this.
Before I made the decision to pursue a nonclinical career, I kept trying to reinvent myself within my organization. I accepted new responsibilities thinking it would make work feel better. The problem was that I didn’t release any of the existing tasks on my plate and ended up working more than before the change.
And then when I decided to cut back on my time (lower FTE), the result was working the equivalent of a full-time position but getting paid less.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Don’t fall into this trap. Be honest with yourself about your situation. And if you’re just too close to it and need a more objective view, seek out a trusted advisor or close friend who has your best interest at heart and will tell you the truth.
Myth #4 - You have to be unhappy in your career/position to consider new opportunities.
When you’re frustrated and unfulfilled in your career, it makes sense to think about making a change.
But did you know that you could explore new career directions when you’re satisfied with your work?
Most people consider making a change at some point in their career and physicians are no exception.
As you gain more experience and skills, you may find that you want to learn how to leverage your expertise in different ways.
Investigating career growth strategies can help you augment the success of your long-term career trajectory. By proactively taking ownership of your career growth, you can intentionally drive the direction of your career path with exciting and lucrative professional development opportunities.
Myth #5 - You can’t leave your current clinical position until you have a new nonclinical one lined up.
There are different reasons that you may decide to leave your current clinical practice before you’ve secured your desired new nonclinical position.
You may be burned out or in the midst of a personal health crisis for you or a loved one.
If you’re in a toxic or abusive environment you may need to leave urgently without adequate time to find something else.
In my conversations with countless physicians, one consistent fear that is shared is being without a job.
It’s important to explore that fear to understand the underlying reason it exists. When you do this, you regain your ability to choose what is best for you (and your family) from an empowered place.
If you need a break, you may be able to arrange a short-term leave of absence from your current employer. Check to see if you have short-term disability insurance that may provide some income during this time.
Or you can secure a temporary job that allows you to earn income while freeing up time for you to take care of yourself and get clear on what you want in the next phase of your career. This could include locums tenens, consulting, teaching, or other opportunities that provide a greater sense of work-life balance while you begin preparing and planning for your nonclinical career transition.
Have any of these myths pressed pause on your nonclinical career transition?
If yes, I want to hear about it. Click here to send me a private message and share which of the above has delayed your progress.
Life Beyond Clinical Practice with Dr. Michelle Bailey
Hi, I'm Dr. Michelle Bailey.
I help physicians who are unhappy or unsatisfied with their current career find a nonclinical career that they love.
Retiring early from clinical practice after almost 20 years as a board-certified pediatrician I successfully made the leap and transitioned to a nonclinical career.
I'm thriving in my new career and am on a mission to help other physicians do the same with the support, guidance, and community that I wish I had when I was struggling with this decision.
You're invited to connect with me in my private Facebook community for physicians to learn about all things related to your nonclinical career transition. Join here.
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