How to Decide Whether to Change Your Job as a Physician

Written by: Dr. Nisha Cooch
Published on: Feb 13, 2020

Doctor looking at map

Practicing medicine today is not what it used to be. Many people go to medical school because of an interest in science and in helping people and upon completion of their training, find it hard to do the work they imagined doing.

Those who grew up in households where one or two parents were in the healthcare field may be particularly surprised by what it’s like to work in healthcare today. They may have envisioned a very different employment scenario – and ultimately, a very different life than what lies in front of them when they enter their first job.

The changing landscape of medicine means that physicians, who are reporting burnout at higher rates than ever before, may switch jobs more frequently. Job dissatisfaction can lead to a change of institution or practice, or it can lead to a more significant change where one’s entire role is different. Luckily, a medical degree is a valuable thing to have. For those who are unhappy in their current job but who do not want to hastily give up their career as a practicing physician, here are some things to consider:


  1. Job details. As a physician, you will probably spend more hours of your life working than doing anything else. Your quality of life will therefore significantly depend on how much you enjoy the time you’re working. Being aware of your priorities and preferences in a job and deliberately pursuing options that are conducive to fewer frustrating days can go a long way in ensuring that you end up in a job you like. When considering a new job, think about the day-to-day and how much happier you will feel here than at your current job. Are the people agreeable? Do you feel supported? Will you be able to focus on the work you love to do?

Doctor looking out of window

  1. Financial realities. Every job opportunity is likely linked to a different financial reality. It’s important to consider what your financial expectations are and what kind of lifestyle you want before agreeing to even the seemingly perfect new job. Salary is one thing to consider, as is cost of living in each place you may call home. It is also critical to be realistic about the costs associated with a job transition. Will a new employer pay for moving costs? What will the shift mean for your health insurance? Will a change in job affect your partner’s income? If you end up unhappy with your financial situation, you are likely to end up unhappy with your job.


  1. Family and friends. How will your new job opportunity affect your family and social life? Will you children change schools? Would such a change be welcomed or dreaded? Will a move mean you leave dear life-long friends and a huge support network? What other disruptions may a new job have on your relationships and on the people around you?

Takeaway: There is often no right answer to which job is ultimately the best fit for you. Taking a new job simply because you are frustrated with your current job may not be the best choice. Before agreeing to a new job, be sure to consider all the ways that the job transition would affect your life. It is easy to get bogged down in the details of the job itself, but in the end, the big picture of your life is what matters most – and there will always be more opportunities in the future.