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2019 Physician Checklist

2019 is upon us, and it’s time to regroup and go over our personal and professional goals. For the ranks of physicians, this means taking stock of your current place of work, where you are in your career, and whether your organization is treating you as well as they should be. Anybody in the medical field knows that job dissatisfaction is soaring — with estimates suggesting more than 50% of all doctors are affected

Here are five things for physicians to consider as this New Year blooms:

1. Are you happy?

This is the most fundamental question for all professionals, and you should know it in your gut. If you aren’t (as we suspect) — what is it about your current job that you dislike? Put pen to paper and write down all the pros and cons of your current situation? If the column of cons is way bigger than the pros, it’s obvious you need a change.

2. What is your relationship like with administration?

There’s a broad divide between those organizations which are led by administrators with a clinical background (the best ones are also still practicing) and those who are purely business trained. Obviously the former get far more respect from fellow physicians because the latter could never truly understand the frontline perspective. Nevertheless, the relationship between clinicians and administrators in many institutions is strained. Identify those leaders who are making your life difficult and not communicating as well as they should.

3. Do you know any other colleagues who are happy?

Are there other places where physicians of your specialty are satisfied in their job and give you glowing recommendations of their workplace? Talk to them and understand why this is so. Is the grass really greener and should you be packing your bags? This is why having as many connections and networking as much as possible within your specialty is crucial.

4. Start taking steps

If you decide that what you are doing now isn’t for you, then start taking immediate daily steps to get out of your current situation. Life is too short to have that feeling of stagnation and being stuck. Moreover, you are too talented. Even if it’s shooting off a quick online application or making a telephone call every day, be doing something all the time to have a feeling of moving forward.

5. What are your long-term goals?

You may be a highly qualified physician, but you are still on a career path and need to have an idea of your own individual goals. Do you want to stay in full-time clinical practice, do a variety of “gigs,” or go a non-clinical route? Without these clearly defined goals, it’s almost impossible to ever be happy with where you are.

The good news is that you are in a field with a huge supply-demand mismatch in most medical and surgical specialties. There are also a lot of other things you can do with a medical degree if clinical practice is not working out for you. So take stock early this year and set the bar high for a satisfying and fulfilling career. I wish you great success in 2019!

Suneel Dhand, MD, is an internal medicine physician, author, and speaker. He is co-founder of DocsDox, a service that helps physicians find local moonlighting and per diem opportunities, bypassing the middleman. Hear him talking about these issues in this video presentation.