Job Transition

A Comprehensive Physician Job Transition Checklist

Looking for a new job in medicine? Use our 8-step checklist to learn how to transition from your current role to a better one.

After nearly a decade in the medical field, Dr. Laura Gaff realized she was ready for something new, but she was unsure how to navigate her career transition as a physician.

“I had to Google ‘How to write a resignation letter,’” she says. “You come out of residency and no one teaches you how to do that.”

Dr. Gaff, a Family Medicine physician and Clinic Medical Director with Providence Medical Group in Oregon, isn't alone. Nearly a third (32%) of providers started a new job in the last three years, according to our recent Provider Solutions & Development (PS&D) Consumer Insights Report. It’s clear that many providers are considering a career change, but they may not fully understand the job transition process.

“Nobody actually discussed what I was required to complete, other than closing my charts on the last day of work,” Dr. Gaff says. “The process didn’t seem as hard as I thought it was going to be. Yet no one really gave me a clear idea of what I was supposed to do.”

At PS&D, we understand that having to resign from your position as a medical provider isn’t easy.

“We’re here for you on every step of your journey,” says PS&D Recruiter Selina Irby. “We offer resources like this checklist to take some of the guesswork out of the process.”

The checklist below will help make your resignation as seamless as possible with tips for physicians starting a new job.

Checklist Tool to Navigate Your Next Steps

Take your time to make a decision.

Get your legal affairs in order.

Begin your job search.

Get serious to secure your new role.

Notify and resign.

Protect yourself and your career.

Prioritize care for patients.

Move on.

Ensure a Smooth Transition to a New Physician Role

For a deeper dive into how to simplify the physician job transition process, review the steps below.

1. Take your time to make a decision.

The decision to leave your physician role should involve as much lead time as possible. Once you identify that you may want to move on to a new role, give yourself time to reflect on your emotions and options. Processing them both early on will help make the upcoming transition less stressful for you, your coworkers and, ultimately, your patients.

Discuss the possible change with your loved ones or trusted mentors. Take the time now to explore what’s going on in the industry and what kind of jobs are available.

Once you’ve made the decision to leave, it’s a good time to review your current employment contract.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Doctor non-compete clauses can prevent you from working at certain organizations or in certain areas.
  • Non-solicitation agreements can prohibit you from bringing your patients or coworkers with you when you move to a new practice.
  • Advance notice provisions can inform you when you are legally required to tell your employer you are leaving your job.
  • Sign-on bonuses or student loan repayments may need to be paid back or reworked in some cases.

Contact a local physician employment lawyer if you need help navigating your contract.

Start by updating your CV to ensure you’re providing key information that will make your CV appeal to a recruiter. Next, consider what worked and what didn’t work about your last job(s) and what you want to get out of your next one. Take a look at other job search considerations as you iron out the details that mean the most to you, such as job location, clinic type and what kind of workplace culture you want to be involved in.

Finally, begin writing a cover letter that shows who you are and what expertise you bring.

PS&D offers many helpful job search resources, tools and physician recruitment capabilities that can help you throughout the search process, your interviews and beyond.

“You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. Know your worth as a provider and don’t shy away from gathering all the information you need to make your decision.”

~ Selina Irby, Physician Recruiter, PS&D

4. Get serious and secure your new role.

Prepare for your interviews by learning the right questions to ask. Knowing what to ask can help you assess whether the role is right for you.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Where is this position located?
  • What is the hospital/clinic size?
  • Why is this position open?

“You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. Know your worth as a provider and don’t shy away from gathering all the information you need to make your decision,” Selina says.

Remember that you have more bargaining power if your physician contract is up for renewal or you’re considering a new position.

Before you submit a physician resignation letter to your current organization, make sure you secure an offer. Learn how to assess and compare your offers and sign with confidence.

5. Notify and resign.

Submit a physician resignation letter that maintains professionalism and expresses gratitude. Alert your practice that you will be leaving within the time frame allotted by the advance notice provisions in your contract. If you do not have this provision in your contract, a 90-day notice is typically industry standard.

Be kind and polite when the time comes, so you don’t burn any bridges. Inform your clinic and co-workers. Share where you’re going, how they can contact you and a brief reflection of your time with the organization.

Dr. Gaff says leaving the people you’ve worked with for a long time can be tough.

“It was a really bittersweet transition,” Dr. Gaff says. “There was a lot of excitement for the new opportunities that came up and learning from the new mentors that I would meet along the road. But it was also sad to leave the staff I worked with for eight years.”

Recruiter Selina Irby emphasizes the importance of clear communication during the resignation process. She shares that speaking with the right people early (and often) makes the process smoother.

“Overcommunicate to the right people, and then allow space for them to take care of it themselves,” Selina says.

6. Protect yourself and your career.

Explore if you will need tail coverage during this transitional period. Tail coverage is a type of liability coverage for physicians that extends beyond previous claims of medical malpractice and related insurance coverage. Essentially, tail coverage protects physicians from getting sued for malpractice from cases at their old job while they are transitioning to a new job.

Potential risks of not purchasing coverage could be financial losses, court fees and additional legal fees. Reach out to a medical employment lawyer should you have questions about how to protect yourself and your career.

For a closer look at the challenges physicians may face during the transition process related to insurance coverage, credentialing and licensing, read our ebook, How to Leave Your Current Role and Write a Physician Resignation Letter.

7. Prioritize care for patients.

The time while you’re still working at your current job, and after you have submitted your resignation, is critical for your patients. Check your state’s requirements for how far in advance of leaving your current practice you need to notify patients (most states require a 30-day notice).

This is also a good time to write a patient notification letter with details about the date of your departure, your contact information, medical record updates and anything else required by your state. By ensuring your patients’ records are accessible to relevant parties and completing all outstanding charts, you are in a better place to depart when the time comes.

If you see your patients in person before you leave, discuss your transition plans with them and answer any outstanding questions they have about their care. Your departure might be stressful for your patients, so you should reassure them that they will be well taken care of going forward. Align with your practice on how you should handle these conversations.

8. Move on.

The time has arrived to move forward. Whether you’re moving up the road or to the other side of the country, plan your relocation based on local medical employment law. Learn about your new location and make time to rest before beginning an exciting new opportunity, whether local or out of state. Again, remember that your network is crucial, as is ending on good terms with your last organization.

Finally, feel confident in your choice and new job — you earned it, after all. If you’re looking for more resources and help on how to navigate the provider resignation process, PS&D is here. Let us help take some of the pressure and guesswork out of it.

“We aren’t paid a commission,” Selina says. “Our job is to work together with our teams to find the right fit for every provider.”

PS&D Can Help You Find Meaningful Work

Navigating the steps of the job transition process can feel daunting. At PS&D, we’re here for you at every part of your journey, including when you leave one role and onboard at a new one.

Regardless of your career stage, whether you're just thinking about leaving a job or you already know you want another role, PS&D can help. Contact us to get started.

When you're ready, PS&D offers our eyes, ears and expertise to help you find the right position and guide you through the interview process. Check out our job opportunities for more information.