Recently, a friend approached me to discuss his career options after his first job. He started by explaining the main reasons why he is quitting and looking for an alternative job. He worked at a private setup in a small town. He had a boss who did not provide what was necessary to improve his productivity. And finally, he did not get the bonus he was promised as his RVUs came $200 short. It was clear to me why he needed to find another job, and sure enough, he landed at a better deal a few weeks later.
A few months earlier I had gone through a similar experience of switching jobs. While there were many reasons to make the switch, the most important one was my time-consuming daily commute. This, combined with the threat of workplace violence and the lack of a work-life balance, made it easier to pull the plug.
A few months before that, another friend called me as he was thinking of quitting his job at a fine institution because he was overworked, underappreciated and his boss was making it difficult to climb the ladder.
Another brilliant physician I know recently decided to quit his academic job because he could not afford to keep up with his loans, taxes and other expenses, ending each year at the same point he started. While he loves academia, he could not continue the bleeding and not saving for the future.
These examples share a common thread – mismanagement.
Many administrators complain of high physician turnover. They are not evaluating the reasons why people quit. The majority of pediatricians and PEM physicians do not worry as much about compensation as other specialties. If our jobs support growth in our careers, create an acceptable work-life balance and do not limit our creativity with red tape, why would we quit?
Leaders should lead by example and not by giving orders.
When you see your boss disconnected from the clinical reality of the job, but trying to micromanage you, you will leave!
When you feel that you have been overworked because you are an excellent worker while others are not being stretched as thin as you are, you will leave!
When you see that your personal life is going down the drain because of your schedule and responsibilities without appropriate protection of your own time, you will leave!
When someone hired after you with less experience gets promoted and your work is underappreciated, you will leave!
I asked my father, a Berkeley graduate physicist, if job conditions in America during the Sixties were similar to now (that is, deals behind closed doors, with jobs and promotion dependent on who you know rather than what you bring to the table). His answer was “no.”
Physicians should think carefully about all of these aspects prior to switching jobs. They should ask why they have an empty position at this institution? Why have other physicians left? And most of all, is their position a match for what they are looking for? Try connecting with people who have left and ask them, they can provide a valuable insight.
The bottom-line is: Choose your boss and setting wisely, as it can make your career or break it!