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Four things to consider before you make the change

Doctors in the medical field do not always have career choices that are available in other industries. With the number of offered roles dependent on funding, finding a clinical or non-clinical role, whether in a non-medical or medical setting, can be challenging.

I have spoken to quite a few doctors who simply don’t know what to do. They are faced with either wanting to change and can’t, or not sure if they should change careers. With more doctors becoming increasingly unhappy with their jobs, they are left with few apparent options. Changing careers within the medical field can be difficult and stressful, while transitioning to a non-clinical role can be exciting and daunting at the same time.

Have you been given an opportunity in a completely different field or industry and you are uncertain whether it is the right move for you and your career? Are you frustrated with the medical profession and want to find a different career path? Remember, it is not just about thinking of a career change, it is also knowing when to make the change.

This is a decision you should not be making alone.

Once you start thinking about changing roles or careers, it can consume your thoughts and provoke worry and anxiety. Many people will struggle to make a decision because they don’t know what they really want. When faced with one of the following, decisions become even more difficult:

–       You don’t want to leave colleagues – it’s a great team and work environment

–       You’ve been offered more than one opportunity

–       You’re worried about losing financial stability

–       You feel guilty taking another role and leaving the current role unfilled

–       Moving to a non-medical role doesn’t have the same job security as your current role

–       The new role involves additional travel time

–       The new role is a promotion but could mean less pay

–       Family has become a higher priority because of a change in personal circumstances

–       Family or friends talk you out of making the change

–       You’re worried about making the wrong choice

–       You are ready to make a change but the opportunity is not available

–       You’re burned out and struggle to make any decisions

–       Your ideal career has an opportunity in another country which means uprooting your family

Here we explore four key elements to help you make the right decision:

·      Know what makes you happy. This may be stating the obvious, but unless you know what will lift you up each day with regards to your career, it will be harder to know which path to take. Is it a career in medicine? If so, which speciality? If not, what career excites you? Now match those attributes to potential careers.

·      Be clear on why you want to change. What is motivating you to look elsewhere? There are many reasons why you would want to leave your current role, as we’ve pointed out earlier. It’s also possible that there is more than one reason to change careers. There may be situations that make it untenable to continue working where you are; the role is a promotion that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; the role you’ve been offered is in another industry that is of special interest to you. Or, you simply need a change to reduce stress and working hours. Whatever the reason, be clear on what you want, and why.

·      Prioritise what’s important to you. Is it job satisfaction? Financial remuneration? Reduction in workload? More time with your family? If your ideal role is missing one of these elements, would you still consider it? Your values are very important and should not be overlooked. If you’re still not sure, think about the attributes that you would want from the ideal job. List them as must have, nice to have, should not have. For example:

a.    Must have: flexible working hours, promotional opportunities, leadership, on a train line, well remunerated, support for initiatives, funding for projects

b.    Nice to have: Variety of duties, close to home, ability to work from home ad hoc

c.     Should not have: toxic work culture, poor leadership, long timeframe for promotions, priority for executive bonuses instead of rewarding employees

·      Get help. Brainstorm the options with your family or someone who understands what you’re going through. Get an objective view and feedback from a few people. Sometimes this could be all that is needed to put things into perspective so you can make a decision on whether it is time to change, and what that change will be.

Anita from Standout Medical Careers has been trusted by many doctors to clarify what is important to them and determine which direction to take their career.

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