Considering a Career Change?
If the stress of the past year has you wanting a change, why not consider another path forward within medicine? As a physician, you have more options than you might think.
April 15, 2021
Finding a Career That Fits Your Lifestyle
COVID-19 strained an already-stressed healthcare system and placed a heavy burden on frontline caregivers. Physicians have responded in many ways to the challenge of providing care during a pandemic. Some have found the past year reinvigorating, while others are dealing with burnout.
Provider Solutions & Development (PS&D) recruiter Kyle Travers says that many physicians he’s talked with have expressed a renewed appreciation for spending time with their families. This, combined with the desire to have more time for hobbies outside of work, has made the idea of a career change more appealing than ever. If you’re considering a change but want to stick to something within medicine, you’re in luck. As a physician, you have a lot of options.
Find Your Place as Part of a Team
Private practice has been an excellent go-to for many physicians. This route offers a sense of control and autonomy that’s appealing, but the administrative burden of running your own office can become too much.
Becoming an employed provider gives you greater mobility and can alleviate some of the more burdensome parts of private practice. For example, employed physicians spend less time negotiating contracts and can even benefit financially from a group's larger negotiating power and fewer overhead costs.
Making the switch from self-employed to employee can give you time back to spend with family and friends or focus on your hobbies.
If a full clinical schedule has become too much, you may want to consider going part-time. Finding ways to practice medicine outside of a traditional schedule can keep your skills sharp while pursuing other interests. But don’t be fooled by the term. Part-time is defined in many different ways for physicians.
3 ‘Part-Time’ Options
Academic Medicine: If you want to work a full schedule but desire less time in the clinic, academic medicine may be a good choice for you. Academic positions offer more variety, with many allowing for clinical practice, teaching, research and leadership opportunities. With less structured time in the clinic, you’re bound to find more flexibility to focus on family or life outside of work.
Direct Primary Care: Like private practice, direct primary care puts you in charge. But the fee-based or boutique structure of direct primary care frees you from the administrative burdens brought on by insurance contracts. Direct primary care also comes with smaller patient panels. This allows you to spend more time with each patient and can mean fewer clinic hours.
Locum Tenens: Locums positions are often filled through an agency, differing from Per Diem positions employed directly through a health system. A Locums position may give you the flexibility you desire in terms of work location and schedule. Learn more about the benefits and challenges of Locums work.
Regardless of which “part-time” route you take, you’ll want to be sure you understand all the implications of the change you are making. For example, if you move to Locum Tenens, you will be a contracted employee, which affects your tax filing. You’ll also want to consider how your move could affect your malpractice insurance and any tail coverage implications.
Try Rural Medicine
If you’ve tried urban medicine and want a change, then rural practice may be an option for you to consider. This growing area of need — 20% of the U.S. lives in rural areas, but only 11% of physicians practice there — can have several benefits, including:
- Shorter commutes for improved work-life balance.
- Financial perks, including higher starting salaries and sign-on bonuses, loan forgiveness, larger patient volumes and lower living costs.
- A diverse patient population with a greater variety of clinical experiences.
Dr. Claire Frost, a family practice physician, worked with PS&D to make the shift to rural medicine. She left Seattle for Missoula, Montana, just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. PS&D also helped Megan Taylor, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, make the move to practice in rural Alaska. Both providers say rural medicine offers them great patient care experiences, the community feel they desire and overall improved work-life balance.
“I think what practicing in rural environments does for providers, and what it certainly has done for me, is it allows you a broad scope of practice,” Megan says. “I order my own supplies. You don’t get to do that in bigger places. I sit on committees, because we need representation. I have a say on how things happen in our department. Small places really give you that opportunity to effect change in your institution.”
Pave Your Own Way
For physicians seeking a change, there are many non-traditional options. You can even create your own path. PS&D has supported many providers as they’ve developed their own alternative route to a career in medicine that they love.
Dr. Terena Gimmillaro, for example, worked with PS&D to channel her passion for addiction medicine into a previously non-existent role at Providence Portland Medical Center. She and a colleague are now pioneering a treatment program to address both the immediate health concerns and addiction treatment options for admitted patients who are also experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Dr. Mahmud Al Furgani found his dream job as a telehospitalist with Providence. He currently spends about half of his time conducting telehealth visits and expects to be working in telemedicine full-time by the end of 2021.
“Medicine is a very demanding job, and it affects your work-life balance,” Dr. Al Furgani says. “So it’s kind of a dream to have found this job where I can spend time with my family at home and be working. I consider myself blessed to have this opportunity.”