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The Watering Hole — November 2020

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The Watering Hole is Look for Zebras‘ monthly congregation of some of the best articles, news, and snippets from around the web that fit with our mission – that is, to assist physicians and other healthcare professionals in finding true satisfaction in their careers.

This month, I’ve got links to some great content on healthcare professionals’ compensation, response to COVID, and wellbeing, as well as a few reading recommendations specifically for students, nurses, and women physicians.

Let’s get to it.

First off, election day is coming right up! I was floored to read that only 37% of eligible physicians voted in elections over the last decade, compared to 51% of the general population.

Getting creative with your career

I recently published a blog post about micropractices, so I was excited to see this topic featured in a Bank of America-sponsored series called the Cash Confessional last week. Dr. Melissa Jones is a primary care physician who opened a practice on $25,000 in personal savings – and it has thrived during the pandemic!

Speaking of surviving the COVID-19 pandemic…

Though many challenges still remain, a Harvard study has shown that outpatient visits have returned to pre-pandemic numbers after dropping by roughly 60%.

In 2020 Career and Salary Survey: Is COVID responsible for the 12% drop in average salary?, Medical Marketing and Medicine discusses the results of their survey showing a hefty drop in average physician salary between 2019 and 2020. The average pay had been steadily rising in surveys from 2016 to 2019, at which time it was slightly under $185,000 per year. But then it decreased to just under $163,000 for 2020.

Despite the pandemic, medical school applications are at an all-time high. People want to be doctors now more than ever.

Students are taking COVID to heart in their training, too. Medical students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine wrote their own oath that acknowledged both COVID and a reinvigorated national civil rights movement.

Being a better doctor

So, people want to be doctors now more than ever, and they want to be good at it. What makes a great doctor? MDLinx explains the one thing that’s sure to make you a better doctor. It’s not book smarts or knowing the latest clinical trial results. It’s compassion.

To display compassion toward our patients, we need to have compassion toward ourselves. An interview with integrative psychiatrist Natalie Campo asks the question Can We Move Toward Mindful Medicine? Dr. Campo discusses how to think beyond conventional treatment plans to assist our patients. You don’t need formal training in integrative medicine to incorporate integrative concepts into your practice, and in your own wellness efforts, as well.

In his new book, The Doctor is Burned Out, Jeff Moody, MD discusses his own burnout, the ongoing stigma surrounding mental health, and how we can address burnout in our careers.

Transitioning to a non-clinical career

The Medicus Firm released results of their 2020 Practice Preference Relocation Survey. Of the 2464 providers surveyed, 9.4% reported that they will “definitely” be making a career change within the next 12 months. Another 11.9% state that they will “likely” be making a career change within that time.

There is no dearth of opportunities for the doctors wishing to make a career change to non-clinical work. For example, CVS Health issued a press release that they are working to fill 15,000 jobs. Some of these are non-clinical or administrative jobs for physicians and other medical professionals.. Including some remote positions!

Check out the Look for Zebras job board and sign up for our email list to be notified of non-clinical opportunities every week.

Mercer University recently announced a new Master of Science in Health Outcomes program that is completely online. This program could be helpful for certain clinicians wishing to transition to a medical affairs position within the pharma industry.

In your excitement to begin a new job, don’t neglect the details, such as your contract. Richard Roberts, MD, JD recently spoke with Medical Economics to provide medical professionals with some tips on employment contract review. He discusses contract deal breakers, must-haves, when to negotiate, and how to approach a job offer.


I encourage medical students to spend time really exploring all their options when it comes to selecting their electives. The 4th year of med school is such a great opportunity to delve into medical interests that can help shape a career or provide exposure to a new area or patient population. Here’s a short article about the benefits of international medical student electives.

Your Financial Pharmacist did an informative podcast on how to reduce costs during the residency application process.


I write a lot about side gigs for physicians in this blog, so nurse readers may be particularly interested in a recent podcast from DailyNurse about nursing side gigs.

Women physicians

Urban Health Today published an interview with Lesly Dossett, MD, MPH, who recently authored Women Surgeons’ Experiences of Interprofessional Workplace Conflict in JAMA Open Network. The study found that women surgeons perceive a double-standard related to interprofessional conflicts and that they perceive the expectation to conform to gender over professional norms. The interview delves into “unwritten rules,” implicit bias, and implications for women in surgery.

A survey on COVID-19’s impact specifically on physician mothers found that 8 of the top 10 concerns of the respondents related to the pandemic were about their coworkers and staff. Over half of the mothers reported that their biggest personal concern during the pandemic was that they would expose their children to the virus.

Have an article or post that you’d like to see included in the next Watering Hole? Drop me a line.

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