What to do next if your physician dream job isn’t available

Human nature is to hold on tightly to the ideals of perfect. Once we find something that ticks all the boxes, we want it now and with firm conviction. The same holds when seeking that dream job.

Competition, scarcity, and desire for coveted positions risk burying your CV in the proverbial pile. Having a few strategies to deal with this phenomenon can help you retain sanity and win at the end of the day.

Shift your focus

What seems perfect now may fall short in five or ten years. Unless you are planning on skipping around to different jobs throughout your career, taking a hard look at what will provide happiness and satisfaction for the long haul can prevent headaches and heartbreak.

Often, we make choices based on present-day circumstances that have a way of changing rapidly. Consider what features make longevity likely and reassess your decision-making.

Ask the following questions:

  • How will my family change in the next 5 to 10 years?
  • What are my long-term career goals?
  • What factors in a job are most important?
  • Why do I want to work here?
  • Do I like the climate, and will I continue to like it as I age?
  • How easy is travel? Proximity to decent airports?

Honest answers to these questions may alter decision-making and foster exploration of other “dream jobs.”

More than a taste

How much can one know about a city or job after just a few hours of conversation, a brief tour, and a lovely weekend away from home?

Physicians are sometimes surprised and saddened when the glitter and gold wear off, and they find themselves stuck in a less than desirable situation. Before deciding on the “perfect” place, dig deep into the group, hospital, and community to ensure that it’s a good fit.

Resist the temptation of knowing a place without doing due diligence. Many amenities exist in a number of cities, and pegging your hopes to one location at all costs is a recipe for disappointment.

Outer circle

Certain geographic locations are notoriously difficult to land a great job. Invest some time and explore the areas surrounding your prime market. Often, you will be surprised at how appealing the alternatives are. Venture thirty minutes out from an urban center, and life takes on a whole new sense of wonder.

Utilize resources and references. Talk to other physicians, recruiters, and hospital or clinic staff. Find out what the issues are and why they chose their current position. With a bit of work and negotiation, you may find or even create a better job.

Be patient

As a physician, you have mastered the art of delayed gratification. Be patient, and let time be your ally. While an immediate opening may not exist, medicine is fluid, and dynamic changes occur on a regular basis. That dream job at that dream hospital may open up tomorrow, next week, or next year. Be patient, diligent, and keep a point of contact who knows your sincere intent. Don’t frown at working for a year or two at a nearby facility while you wait for an opening. Stay poised – be ready.

Family matters

Family is important and can be a tether that prevents change or mobility. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation about what is important to all involved. Don’t guess that your in-laws are permanently anchored to city x, y, or z. Family bonds are strong, and the desire to be close to you, your family, or grandkids has uprooted many a relative. I can speak from experience, as job transitions brought my extended family along for a career transition.

Impermanent permanence

Keep an open mind. It’s not permanent. While certain markets are harder to crack than others, and sacrifices must be made, nothing is permanent. Physicians scale back, move, or simply retire. Nothing lasts forever, and having patience can deliver opportunity.

Mitchel Schwindt is an emergency physician. This article originally appeared in the Healthcare Career Resources Blog.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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