Finding a new physician job is just like dating

I did not enjoy dating.  It was not fun to figure out who liked me, who didn’t, how did the date go, should I call them, should they call me, how long should I wait, the anxiety of rejection … the list goes on.  My husband and I knew each other for years, and although we did not start dating right away, things worked out. I met the love of my life, we have a great family, and things are good.  I’ve said it repeatedly, “I am so happy I never have to go through the nonsense of dating again.”

Until recently. No, I did not get a divorce and start looking again.  I found a new job, and the process is just like dating.  It starts with sending your CV out to a bunch of chairs.  Then you wait and wait and wait.  You start to wonder, “Did they get it? What if something happened and the email didn’t go through? Should I send it again?” And you basically sit in high anxiety mode until you hear back from someone. I never did the online dating thing but can’t help but wonder if this waiting period is similar to people responding to your profile.

You then start to get some interested parties responding to your CV and think, “Maybe this one will work out.” It’s a very eager and exciting feeling.  You find at moments you daydream about making more money, having better hours and wonder what will it be like to be part of your potential new group.  Some of the daydreams are completely far-fetched, but it is a fun little fantasy period. I distinctly recall this fantasy phase when dating.

Then you get interviews.  It’s so exciting because, “Yay,  I have an interview!” And then suddenly you think, “Oh God. I’m going to vomit. I have an interview.” This is your first date, and it is stressful. You want to make a great first impression and back up your CV (online dating profile for the purpose of this post).  You want to be yourself but not overly revealing.  You don’t want to appear nervous but don’t want to be too relaxed either.  You want to make sure you wear appropriate attire and try on about 1,000 different outfits until you find the right one. I can honestly reveal that I did not sleep one wink the night before each interview secondary to anxiety.

Then the interview day arrives. Some are not so great, and you consider these places your safety blankets just in case something goes wrong.  Your backup date in the event the one you were hoping for doesn’t work out. Other interviews are great.  You are oozing with enthusiasm and then think, “When do I reach out to thank them? How long should I wait? A day? Two days? I don’t want to seem too eager, but I want them to know that I am interested.  How do I do this without being too aggressive? I need to keep my cool.  Is it ok to send an email? Should I call?”  The classic post date questions of time to wait until contact.

At times the interview appeared to have gone very well. Your references were called and immediately called you stating they think said chair is very interested in you. Then suddenly you get an email stating how great you are, but unfortunately, there are no open spots at the present time. This is the dating equivalent of the, “It’s not you, it’s me” rejection, and it sucks just as badly when looking for a job.

Other times, you are given a window of when you will hear back and when the window has passed without a word, the panic strikes especially if it is somewhere you really liked.  You ask the questions, “Maybe they forgot, should I reach out to them? Will I seem desperate? Did they give the job to someone else?!” The thoughts really are killer.

You question whether you should have entered this process at all.  Life was fine. Sure there were a bunch of things you were unhappy about, but you got paid well, you had a fair schedule, you knew all the consultants.  You knew in order to grow and be happy you had to leave but now look what happened.  You left your comfort zone and exchanged it with repeated rejections.

And then it happens.  You find your new job.  Is it perfect? No. It is not perfect just like the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with is not perfect.  Nothing and no one is perfect. But you really like all the good aspects of it.  The negatives, well, they are not that bad and worth it because everything else is so good.

The next time you step out of your comfort zone and decide it’s time for a new job, keep in mind that it is just like dating. If you enjoyed dating, then you will be in your zone.  I am happy for you and wish you the best. For all other normal people, the process sucks but in the end it will be worth it.  Stay strong.  Stay optimistic.  Feel free to call me if you need to ugly cry.

Annahieta Kalantari is an emergency physician. This article originally appeared in FeminEm.

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