Physician, Is Leaving Medicine Your Best Next Career Move?

by Francine Gaillour, MD

in Aligning With Values & Purpose,Career Resilience & Fulfillment,Meet Some "Daring Doctors"

I counsel a lot of physicians in my role as Executive Coach. Many of my physician clients are in the midst of career change, career crisis, career upheaval, and sometimes career adventure when they first come to see me.

Sometimes it’s very clear after our initial Strategy Meeting (which takes almost 3 days) that the career direction they need to go is to leave medicine entirely.

Here is an important point: I NEVER make that call myself. The typical scenario is that my physician client has made the decision–de facto–in every fiber of their being. What I often help them with in these early stages (the Discovery Phase of our Platinum Coaching Program) are the following:

  1. Validation that leaving medicine is the right decision for who they are, where they are, and what they see ahead
  2. Courage to move through the process
  3. Specific communication strategies to break the news to important people in their lives (and by the way, the spouse almost always knows the decision to leave medicine is the “right one” and they are supportive every step of the way)
  4. A “Celebration Ritual” to celebrate who they are what they have accomplished as a physician
  5. The Strategic Blueprint for how we will organize the Career Exploration ahead after closing the door on this chapter of their life

    Recently one of my clients made a break from clinical practice. It was very clear from our initial meeting that he was ready to go–NOW. It brought tears to my eyes 2 months later when he communicated how much his mind and heart were “opening up” to the world of possibility for himself, and how much he was discovering about who he is– his true self, not the guy in the white coat.

    Leaving medicine is not the answer for most physicians who are unfulfilled professionally, and I never assume that career change or transition is the solution for my clients. But for many it is, and this early stage is a special one, often heart-wrenching, but always light-filled at the end of that short tunnel.

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