A good attitude is necessary when transitioning away from medicine

Do you feel like you have nothing to show for the efforts you’ve put into your career change?

It’s easy to feel frustrated and lose motivation when nothing seems to be coming from all the work you put into things like LinkedIn, calling recruiters, revising your resume or networking.

There are two possible reasons why things might not be working for you.  Maybe you are doing the right things but you lack a solid strategy.  Or perhaps you are doing everything right – but your attitude isn’t right.

I want to talk about the second scenario.
 First, let me explain what I mean by “attitude.” When you look at the people who successfully transition despite their own personal obstacles or any external obstacles (like a bad economy), the thing they typically have in common is an upbeat outlook.  They are engaged in their own personal success and motivated to move forward despite continued rejections or dead ends.  They are also serious about not projecting desperation.

In my experience, this seems to be driven by personality but you can teach yourself to adopt a more positive perspective on something as daunting and overwhelming as career transition.

Why should you teach yourself to do this?  Whenever you act based on fear and desperation, you inevitably:

  •     Start to rush yourself and become more prone to making mistakes
  •     Give off bad vibes

Most people will tell you that it’s easy to spot the difference between someone who feels good about him/herself and who has faith in the future vs. the person who feels panicky about a secure future and his or her place in it.

This isn’t easy, of course. When you hate your job and feel “trapped” with no sense of control over your future, desperation is a logical thing to feel.  Pile that on top of a fear of not knowing what to do or where to turn to for help, (will I be working at Starbucks?), all the while knowing you have a family to provide for and you’re likely not to be in the right frame of mind.

I see a lot of panic in the people that come to me.  They are unsure how to start a job or career transition.  If you know you want to make a change, the very best time to start this is when you’re still employed. This allows you to continue to feel some confidence about your abilities and your value Remember that when you operate from a feeling of hope and positivity, you are also better able to see what’s right for you and make better decisions along the way. When you’re in a panic, you’re more likely to make rush decisions that don’t turn out to be the greatest decisions.

Dr. Drayden is a surgeon who decided he wanted to make a change.  He had been considering a non-clinical career for several years and finally decided to see if he could make that desire a reality.  His job at a medical device company as an education coordinator and product development specialist didn’t come from the first phone call he made or even the tenth or twentieth call.  He suffered many rejections and people telling him he was “crazy,” or “overqualified,” or “aren’t qualified enough,” and asking, “why would you want to leave medicine?”  before he made a phone call that led to another phone call that led to a friend introducing him to a friend, etc. etc. that helped him to finally land his current non-clinical role.  Along the way he kept lists and databases of his efforts.  Most importantly, he kept a positive attitude.

What I hope you get from this article is that devising a solid job transition strategy is a must but the great results will come when you combine that with an attitude based on calmness and positivity.  You can do this.

Michelle Mudge-Riley DO successfully made the transition from clinical practice to non-direct clinical work and now works for a brokerage firm in Richmond, Virginia as Director of Wellness and Health Promotion. This post originally appeared on Freelance MD.

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