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Department: Career Options
MDs Making Changes in Mid-Career
An orthopedic surgeon worked for 17 years before realizing he wanted another area of medicine. Another surgeon started a training business. A third started writing an advice column. Each of these physicians offers an example of how it is possible to make a mid-career change and inject more excitement into one’s career. “In the business world, people change jobs 12 times in their work lives,” reports Robert Mestas, MD, medical director of Physicians Career Practice LLC, an assessment and counseling firm in Denver (at www.pcpllc.org). “But physicians never used to do so. They would stay in one job whether they were satisfied or not.” Dissatisfied with his work, the orthopedic surgeon met with Mestas to discuss his options. “During counseling, we found he thought more like an internist,” Mestas explains. “He made the switch, and loves it. And he didn’t even take much of a pay cut.” Mestas had another client, a successful cardiologist earning over $1 million annually, who was unhappy after 10 years in cardiology. Instead of leaving the profession, he cut back to part-time work. “He’s removed some of the stress, and is sorting out what he might like to do,” Mestas explains.
Make Choices That Match Your Goals
Once they finish their first full-time position in medicine, most younger physicians face a wide range of choices about career direction. The challenge they face involves selecting the alternative that lays the foundation for a stable, growing, and satisfying professional career.
For these physicians, the most popular options include working in an established private practice, forming a group practice, starting a solo practice, buying into an existing group, or working in a private or public setting. Since each of these options has advantages and disadvantages, experts offer guidance on how to choose among them.
Make Choices Match Career Goals
Once accustomed to being a full-time physician, many younger doctors face a range of choices about career direction. The challenge for these physicians is selecting an alternative that lays the foundation for a stable, growing, and satisfying professional career. For any physician in practice, there are a wide variety of possible career pathways, but each one has advantages and disadvantages that relate to professional development and lifestyle decision. For physicians who opt to be full-time clinicians, the variety of settings to consider includes joining an existing group, forming a new group, starting a solo practice, or buying into a medical group. A physician seeking to work in other settings can consider taking a position in a hospital or in another country, or working in the public or private sectors.
Physician-Centered Practices Take Hold
The concept of the physician-centered practice is taking hold. More and more physicians and administrators are coming to realize that without the support and enthusiasm of highly motivated and happy physicians, medical practices are doomed. And while this concept may sound as if it flies in the face of some popular theories about how practices must be “patient-centered” or team focused, it doesn’t really, and we’ll explain why. But first, we would ask ophthalmologists to consider the matrix we prepared (on page 13) and how you fit, or would like to fit, into it. By the nature of its variability, the practice of ophthalmology can lend itself to a variety of organizational models. The question is which options are right for you?
Consider a Physician-Centered Practice
Physicians are knowledge workers. According to one definition of knowledge workers, they have high degrees of expertise, education, or experience, and the primary purpose of their jobs is to create, distribute or apply their knowledge. Then it follows logically that building a job that meets their unique needs would require a physician-centered practice. Simply using the term “physician-centered practice” may be enough to make physicians question the strategy. After all, one of the goals of health systems today is to be patient-centered. But, in fact, it may be possible to have a physician-centered practice that actually delivers better care more effectively than one that is patient-centered.
3 Find Ways to Renew Love of Medicine
This article discusses how three physicians who were dissatisfied with how they were practicing medicine made changes that "reignited the passion they had when they entered medicine."
Gene Research Creates Opportunities