4/16/2023 0 Comments
Considering A Departure From Clinical Practice? Here are 5 myths that may be delaying your career transition.
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.
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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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