Why Honesty is Necessary to Make a Smooth Physician Career Change

Physician Career Change

As you are all too aware, becoming a doctor takes hard work and dedication. Being a doctor requires the utmost skill. Almost everyone respects and admires you. Your job allows you to have a life-changing (and even life-saving) impact on others. And of course, the income can be lucrative as well. 

As it turns out, however, many doctors find themselves less than enamored with their career choice. For some, this realization comes early on. For others, it arrives later, perhaps not until they reach their 40’s or 50’s. Then there are doctors who have had long, satisfying careers but are simply ready to try something new. 

Perhaps you recognize yourself in one of these categories and you’ve been thinking about doing something other than practicing medicine. But, how can you make that happen?

You already know that change can be hard, especially when it involves moving from one career to another. It can be done, however, if you’re prepared to engage in some soul-searching and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Taking an honest inventory of who you are, what you want and what you consider important are critical if you hope to make a smooth physician career change.

1. Why is it that a physician career change appeals to you at this time in your life? Reasons commonly expressed by physicians include:

  • “It’s just not what I thought it would be” 
  • Stress and/or burnout
  • Concern that the practice won’t be successful
  • Health (of either self or a loved one)
  • Worry about medical malpractice 
  • Increased administrative and regulatory burdens
  • The simple desire to do something else. 

Be completely honest with yourself. For this exercise, think only about what’s true for you, not what others think or what you believe they might think.

2. Is a change really what you want?

It is unwise to make a physician career change until you have identified your real motivation for doing so. After all, perhaps all you need is simply a change of scenery, not a complete overhaul of your professional life.

A new office might be in order or maybe a different field. Some physicians find that they want to move into management or the business side of health care (pharmaceutical sales, consulting, research and development, just to name a few options). 

3. What would you like to do instead?

So you want to be a rock and roll star? Paint? Teach at a college or med school? Get an MBA? Clarity regarding your intention is critical. Basing a decision on “what you want to be when you grow up” on a whim will not serve you well. 

4. What skills do you need to acquire in order to make the desired change? 

If you don’t know what it will take to to commence a new career, you cannot possibly hope to get there. Research the jobs/professions that interest you to ascertain the barriers to entry, whether you believe you can overcome them and, if so, how to do so. Then start doing what needs to be done. When it comes to changing your career, inaction is not action. 

5. What is preventing you from making a physician career change? 

Considerations that can impede a physician career change are varied. Among the most significant? Other people. Consultant Celia Paul explains: “Once you’ve become a doctor, you’re supposed to have it made. It takes real courage to break with everyone’s expectations.” 

No matter the reason, if you don’t believe you can overcome it, your physician career change will not go smoothly. 

Perhaps you’ve been considering a move to a community hospital. If so, consider the opportunities within Elliot Health System.

Apply to Elliot Health System

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