Incorporate physician well-being into your job search criteria

Maybe you think it’s too early to consider the next stage in your career.

Medical school graduation is just months away.  Newly graduated doctors will be making their way to their first rotations in July. Senior residents and senior fellows are thinking and dreaming about their next position as a new attending.

This got me to thinking.

Are you truly considering and factoring in your well-being as you look for the next position where you will be spending a substantial amount of time on a regular basis?

And how are you incorporating the hot topic of physician well-being and physician burnout into the process?

Are you asking probing questions about it during the interview process?

More importantly, have you taken the time to shift the conversation from the global concept and defined it for yourself?

As I meet and talk with physicians at conferences, through online forums, or in the work environment, I see a trend.  We know about the concept of physician well-being, but many have not defined it.  Through past experiences, we connect to what we do not want but haven’t taken the time to shift our energy and focus on what we do want. As a result, we’re not quite sure what to look for during our job search and interview process.

As physicians think about that next position, we usually consider:

1. The salary. We want it to be competitive, factor in our student loans, and allow for a lifestyle upgrade.

2. The geographic location. Where do you want to live? Did the journey in medicine take you away from family and friends, and now you have the opportunity to relocate back home? Is the cost of living a major factor for you?  Do you prefer city life or a slower pace in the suburbs or country?

3. The clinical setting. Your chosen specialty will influence whether you are based in the hospital, clinic, private practice, community, or the academic arena.

With these basic criteria in place, you begin your search.  You update and send out your CV to the most promising job postings. You communicate with the recruiter to secure the interview.

Congratulation on taking the first steps in the process.

Putting it into practice: Does the position support your well-being?

The five pillars for well-being are:

  • Pillar 1: life calling and purpose
  • Pillar 2. personal development
  • Pillar 3: spiritual awareness
  • Pillar 4: abundance and prosperity
  • Pillar 5: fellowship and family

I didn’t have this tool over a decade ago when I was in search of my first attending position. Looking back, I see that position met 4 out of the five pillars.  The one pillar that it did not meet was crucial.  I didn’t do my due diligence to investigate the financial health of the hospital system (pillar 4: abundance and prosperity).  Within a matter of months of my new employment, the director of the unit called me into her office to inform me that due to hospital-wide cutbacks, the unit was being downsized. I was the last hired, so I was the first one to be let go.

When you define these five pillars for yourself, you create a foundation for your next level that you can use over and over. Here’s how it will help you with your search for the next position:

  • You’ll know what questions to ask as you meet the physicians and other professionals you may work within your future. This will help you determine how much of your time will be spent doing the work you love.
  • You’ll get an idea of how committed the administration is in promoting your personal and professional growth, which helps you determine whether this is a position for longevity or a stepping stone.
  • You’ll inquire about the financial health of the employer entity because it does impact your bottom line.
  • You’ll understand the importance of the community in which you work in building a solid network to live and grow.

Stephanie Wellington is a physician and can be reached at Nurturing MDs.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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