Physician Career Change-Impact has Many Faces

How can you leave clinical medicine and still make a difference? What can replace the privilege of hearing a patient’s story and being part of another human being’s journey through illness, sorrow, joy, relief?  Bearing witness to the gamut of human experience and emotions is after all the essence of being a physician. Yet, there may come a time when the satisfaction, fulfillment and  happiness from those interactions shifts and changes. For many physicians, years of upheaval in healthcare and now the trauma of a pandemic have fueled a desire to move out of clinical medicine and into something else. Yet, leaving patient care can trigger a 1-2 gut punch.  There is the deep sadness, grief and guilt of leaving one-on-one patient care along with the loss of a defining sense of purpose. Despite this, moving forward into a non-clinical career may be the vital, self-preserving act that needs to happen. 

One way to mitigate the sorrow of leaving clinical care is to find ways to shift your mindset from one that is largely focused on the clinical care of an individual to one that recognizes that making a difference has many faces. Although it is not easy to get out of a groove established over years, doing so gets us unstuck and able to begin brainstorming new opportunities.

Here are six questions for changing your thinking:

  1. Even if you are determined to change careers, what are the key aspects that you still enjoy or have enjoyed in your current work? Imagine four other fields where you could use those skills. Be absurd. Be ridiculous. Be improbable. Above all kick your thinking out of the box and into a more creative space.
  2. List all the ways that you feel that you make a difference in your current job. Is that the impact that you want to continue having in this world or is something else calling to you?
  3. What are you interested in now or long to develop an interest in professionally? This may be a desire that has been simmering below the surface for awhile, but kept being suppressed because of time, fear, etc.
  4. What are you interested in now or long to develop an interest in personally?
  5. Do you have to make money to feel that you are having an impact? If so, ask yourself if that is really true, or just an old belief.
  6. List six people you feel are making a difference. Describe what they are doing that is impactful? Don’t limit yourself to the field of medicine or even healthcare.

Here are six books to inspire new ways of thinking;

  1. The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
  2. Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon Mackenzie
  3. The Making of a Modern Elder by Chip Conley
  4. Originals by Adam Grant
  5. The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson
  6. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley         

Medicine is a noble mission, but with imagination and commitment, there are ways to create a new trajectory for your life that can still positively influence and change the lives of others.

” If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” 

Tom Peters




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top