What Direction Can Your Physician Career Take? Three Determinants to Examine

by Francine Gaillour, MD

in Aligning With Values & Purpose,Career Resilience & Fulfillment,Marketing and Promotion,Podcasts

I am preparing for a workshop I’ll deliver after the first of the year for a group of Healthcare-MBA program at the University of California-Irvine. One of the comments that has already come up from the group is this:

“I just finished my MBA, but I’m lost about what to do next.”

Whether or not an MBA is part of your portfolio, it’s helpful to start drafting your map to the future by asking yourself three questions–I call them the three determinants of professional fulfillment.


Determinant #1: Which Do You Need More, Stability or Adventure?

You may be in the mental frame of mind to expand your career right now, but it’s possible your family or professional situation will dictate that you reduce the scope of your career expansion, and possibly the pace of your progress. If so, look at what might be a “Phase I.”

One physician client had an idea he wanted to pursue: develop consulting and speaking on the side of his specialty practice. His Phase I, however, was to get his practice in better shape, including more call coverage, so he could actually carve out time to develop his new career adventure. It would not have been practical–in fact it would have stressed his family life–for him to leave his practice in disaray.

Another client had already set up a financial stability plan before deciding to “retire” early and launch full time into his dream of developing a nonprofit global-health foundation.

Don’t be discouraged if there is multi-phased approach to building out your future. One client was disappointed after deciding that Phase I for him was staying put in his practice. However, he was very productive nonetheless, and he used that year to write a book!


Determinant #2: What Does Your Leverage Portfolio Look Like?

The second determinant of your map to the future is the state of your “Leverage Portfolio.” The “leverage portfolio” is a term I coined to describe your collection of solid achievements, noteworthy projects, results, unique experiences that will vault you into the next chapter.

Developing a solid Leverage Portfolio is especially important for physicians who have spend most of their time in clinical practice or a single management role and have done little else. And sad to say, getting an MBA as your sole accomplishment, is not leverage enough.

Take inventory right now and list your accomplishments, results, projects, authored articles, speeches, chapters written, committees led. If you aren’t filling up a page or two, part of your map to the future will include time spent developing your portfolio.


Determinant #3: What is the Story That Wants to Be Told?

This third determinant may be a challenge for some of you, and yet take only 5 seconds for others. I generally don’t ask my new clients “what’s the dream you harbor?” What I want to uncover, rather, is “what are the stories in your life that have been leading up to the BIG STORY?”

The BIG STORY is where you are destined to go, what you are meant to create, or the truths you are meant to voice.

I find that physicians are often in denial–sometimes in the dark–of the big story that wants to be told in their life. Eliciting personal stories of meaning generally starts putting the puzzle pieces in place.

One way to uncover your Big Story is to recall and record those times in your life when you were at your peak, or most engaged. What was happening? What about the event or situation was meaningful for you? What feedback did you get about your contribution or value?

Those are the beginning threads of the story line.

The three determinants are not the complete formula for future success. But going through this process is a methodical way to start creating order from confusion, uncertainty and doubt.


Email me and tell me where you starting point is with these determinants. I’m always curious to hear from my Daring Doctors subscribers.

Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE, is an Executive and Career Coach for Physicians. Dr. Gaillour specializes in helping physicians who are venturing into new territory as leaders, entrepreneurs, and career adventurers. She can be reached at (206) 686-4205, francine@physicianleadership.com or use the Contact Form


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