Medicine is a calling. And almost all of us went into this profession for altruistic reasons. Unfortunately, it’s no secret that the health care landscape has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades, and practicing medicine is undoubtedly getting more difficult for most doctors.
Fortunately, I’ve found myself in a better place than most. But after hearing feedback from physicians at various stages of their career, there are a number of reasons why they may be unhappy in their current job. Among these are administrative and bureaucratic headaches, information technology requirements and inadequate salary and compensation (surprisingly though, this often ranks lower down on the list).
Here are three ways any physician knows it’s time to move on:
1. An unsupportive administration. Few things could be worse than feeling unsupported by the higher echelons of power within your health care organization. Administrations should be there to support and nurture physicians. If you ever get the sense that this is not the case, and they haven’t got your back — it’s definitely time to move on. The nature of health care is such that increasing regulations and falling reimbursements are contributing to the squeeze being applied in many areas. That’s still never an excuse for you to be treated poorly or he undervalued.
2. Your collegial atmosphere disappears. The reality of any job is that it’s typically your colleagues who make or break your job environment. You can be doing the worst job in the world, but if you have amazing and fun colleagues, it’s still always OK to come into work. On the contrary, if you are in a toxic environment (a situation that can easily be exacerbated by the above unsupportive administration), it becomes almost impossible to be happy at work.
3. Your sorry work situation spills over to your home environment. There’s an old saying that somebody who is unhappy at home can be happy at work, but somebody who is unhappy at work can rarely be happy at home. Your sadness and frustration at work inevitably spills over into your home life. If you find yourself thinking about work at home and not being as good a husband or father as you can be because you are so miserable in your job, it’s not fair to your family either.
If any of the above three apply to you — seriously consider starting the job search and seeing what else is out there. You have worked way too hard to be unhappy with your work.
Moreover, life is too short ever to feel stuck in anything you no longer enjoy. The good news is that as a highly trained physician, there are almost always other options out there — both clinical and non-clinical. Happier times await you once you take that first bold step. Work environments for physicians vary immensely, even at hospitals or clinics within the same town. In this tumultuous time in health care, the one constant is that people will always need doctors, and your skills are in high demand. Don’t waste your time in a toxic work environment. Know when it’s time to check out and seek those greener pastures.
Ben Levin is a physician.
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