Family physicians are in high demand and have boundless career choices, but finding a job that's the right fit can be challenging. Career satisfaction depends on a number of personal, professional, and organizational factors.
1. Mission and identity
Not every job or organization will fit your personal sense of mission and identity. Knowing what drives you and makes you distinct as a physician can help you identify the populations you want to serve, the kind of work you want to do, and the types of opportunities you should (and should not) pursue.
A career in medicine plays out in phases over time. Instead of worrying about whether you've reached your destination, focus on whether you're moving in the right direction. For example, new physicians need to focus on strengthening the core skills they acquired in residency while adapting to the volume and complexity of practice. But they should also think about developing a secondary interest or niche, which can help make them more sought-after and move their career in the desired direction.
Your closest family members can be deeply affected by your career decisions, such as practice location, work hours, etc., so it's vital to seek their input. If they aren't happy, you won't be happy. Likewise, your “work family” can affect your happiness, so look for a practice with quality working relationships, good communication, alignment of teams with the practice's mission and goals, and high levels of trust.
Physicians spend so much time in service to others — listening, supporting, coordinating, and putting out fires. Be intentional about adding some fun, levity, and joy to your days so you don't burn out. This includes scheduling regular time away from work to recharge and making it a priority to connect with your colleagues and talk about enjoyable things going on in your lives outside of medicine.
Doctors who need to make money at the expense of work boundaries and professional satisfaction are rarely happy, but prudent management of personal finances can help protect you and your family from significant stress. If you're carrying the weight of student loans, investigate loan forgiveness programs. Create a budget. And live within your means.
Read the full article in FPM: "Developing Your Professional Career Plan."
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