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Are You Switching Jobs? Consider The Finite vs. Infinite Game

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For many doctors, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique set of challenges. Weak demand in certain specialties and financial distress in hospitals are leading them towards new employment opportunities for themselves or, in some cases, even just to keep their private practice afloat. Private practice has dropped to less than 50%  in 2020. 

In today’s market, many factors contribute to job satisfaction for physicians, such as salary, benefits, work/life balance, and more. So before taking a decision about changing jobs, doctors need to consider a few factors carefully and take more than one perspective into account. 

Here are a few key considerations for physicians considering a job hunt.

1. Career Advancement

Consider what you want to be doing in 5 to 10 years when making a career change. Your job should be a good fit for your planned career path. Inquire about advancement prospects with future employment. If you’re interested in researching, teaching, or leading, find out if the company invests time and money in these activities. Make a deal for the opportunities you want.

Mentorship is crucial for younger physicians. Inquire about mentorship opportunities with senior attending physicians from potential employers.

Keep in mind that to advance in a new role, the institution’s financial stability is important. Inquire about the patient population, referral sources, business model, and financial stability of the company.

2. Financial Constraints

Changing employment entails expenses. Over time, bills, lifestyle creep, and unforeseen expenses add up. Any type of disruption in your routine is likely to cost you money. One technique to determine whether a transfer would be financially beneficial is to put a clear number on the extra expenditures associated with a job change and make sure they are manageable.

Out-of-pocket payments for insurance coverage are another issue. Of course, there may be a period of time between the termination of old employment and the start of a new job, resulting in a loss of income.

3. Social Disruption

You’ll have to re-establish your social circles if you move elsewhere. Your kids will eventually drift apart from their peers and school. If they are still in high school, a move may impact their chances of getting into college. You may have to start looking for a new church group.

If you wind up relocating, there could be a large opportunity cost depending on how much you value your social environment. In the end, you must determine which things are more important to you and your family in the long run – Money, friends, or workplace sanity?

Spend a day or two in the community before accepting a new job offer, in addition to conducting internet searches and asking around. Consider whether the setting is one in which you and your family can grow and thrive.

4. Learning Curve At Work

Change is costly, no matter how experienced you are in your field. You’ll need to learn a new electronic health record, go through the dreaded online HIPAA training classes again, and adjust to the new work atmosphere in new hospital settings. There will be new coworkers, a new culture, and new rules to follow. A new setting may be refreshing depending on what you are escaping from your previous career.

5. Legalities

When signing an employment contract, read the small print. These contracts may, for example, stipulate that you must meet particular productivity standards to be paid. Non-compete provisions may also exist, which prevent you from working in the area for a particular length of time if you quit your employment. Before you sign anything, make sure you understand the terms.

It would be worthwhile to get your contract reviewed by a lawyer.

6. Family Disruption

If you’re the sole breadwinner in your family, you’ll be under even more pressure because your family’s well-being is dependent on your earnings. If you’re in this circumstance, you know that you’ll have to deal with the stress that comes with it if you make the wrong decision. Is it worthwhile to invest?

Play The Infinite Game

Take a look at Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite game. It helped me reshape my priorities.

Your career goal should be your own and not a consequence of mimetic behavior. Here, I recommend Gerard’s work on Mimesis where he emphasizes that our desires are not our own. Being aware of mimetic desire will help you be less critical of your choices. 

Life is brief; It might be worthwhile to make a career change if it costs $100,000 for the first year but allows you to have a successful career the next 30 years. 

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