“I am stuck. I cannot figure out which direction to go in. I am a physician with only 1 year of job experience. The problem is that I am no longer passionate about this specialty. Currently, I am unemployed and quite depressed. What should I do? If you have any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate them.
Thank you for your great career tips on the 4th leg of the 3-legged career stool and all the wonderful work that you do.”
Is it just your current specialty for which you’ve lost your passion, or the medical profession in general? Is there another specialty that appears to offer more of what you are seeking, and what would be involved in making a switch to that one? What attracted you to medicine in the first place, and what has changed about that?
“I believe that I have lost interest in my current specialty, but I am still interested in the medical profession. I am not sure which specialty offers more of what I am seeking, but maybe internal medicine or one of its subspecialties. It would involve re-applying for residency match program, then at least 3 years of additional residency training. Helping people and my affinity for science attracted me to medicine.
What has changed? I don’t think I understood about time restraints in seeing patients and how procedures are more prized than problem solving.
I feel lost lost because I don’t know where to turn. Everyone expects me to be gainfully employed by now.”
Hopefully the article I sent you gave you more to think about – seems like its subject found, and for himself at least, solved the issue of balancing seeing patients, procedures, and problem solving.
Don’t worry about other’s expectations – all that matters is what YOU expect or want for YOURSELF. Many people go through changes in interests, particularly as they get deeper into a particular area. There is no shame in that. Many start out in entirely different careers than they will pursue a few years later. I’m one of the lucky ones – I’m in my 3rd career, and have thoroughly enjoyed all three. About 3/4’s of the people I started out with in the Actuarial profession had completely changed directions by the time I achieved my Fellowship 5 years later.
Focus on figuring out what looks more promising to you NOW. Think about what you’ve learned from your current specialty, and exactly what you did and didn’t like about it, and about the way it was practiced in the particular residency program and hospital in which you were working. Try to separate what is true generally about the specialty from how it happened to be practiced there.
Now go out and explore internal medicine and its subspecialties. Set up meetings with other doctors and residents about those subspecialties, particularly those working in them. Find out what they love about what they do. Explore with them exactly what it means day to day and how that aligns with what you’ve discovered gets you excited to get up in the morning, and what you’ve discovered you want to minimize.
There is no PERFECT area – all will have plusses and minuses, but if you can find something where there are so many plusses that you don’t mind dealing with the minuses, then that’s a very promising area to explore.
Don’t worry too much about the fact that you might have to go through another residency. If that is an investment in getting to the place you will be very happy, it’s worth it. Just do enough exploration first that you feel strongly that this is likely to be the right direction (for now).
And don’t judge it by whether it’s your dream forever. You will change, medicine will change, specialties will evolve, just as happens in any profession. Just seek something that is very promising for now…in another 5 years, you can re-evaluate and make adjustments as needed. In the meanwhile, you will be doing something you enjoy, and learning a whole lot about yourself and your options…
I was struck by a phrase in a posting about a job as follows:
“Cultural fit will be very important…looking for an all-around athlete that is easy to get along with”
This is a point that many candidates overlook - they are so worried about ’selling themselves’ that they forget to take a really close look at the opportunity, and particularly the culture, to see if it’s a fit to what THEY want.
This is a recipe for disaster. I can cite 2 specific examples:
1. Many years ago, someone I know was very distracted by family issues that were leading him to make a transition to be nearer family. He accepted a job, only to realize immediately upon arriving that he really didn’t want that specific job. He turned in his resignation after only a few weeks. (The good news for me was that I ended up landing the job immediately after, and it was my Dream Job!)
2. Not too far back, someone I knew was in a panic about landing a job, found a job title that sounded good and sold himself for it through a networking contact. He neglected to dig into the specifics of how the job was done, landed it, and then called me his 2nd day on the job to tell me how miserable he was. He quit within a week. (The good news is that shortly thereafter he landed a totally different job that suited his talents and style very well, and has had great success with it.)
On the other hand, operating from a psychology where you have the confidence to project that you are there to evaluate them as much as for them to evaluate you is a powerful position that produces a much stronger result for you in the interview.
Here’s an article for anyone interested in more on this:
People often ask me if LinkedIn is worthwhile for a job search.
It can be very useful, if you put some work into it to make it effective. I found in my own case that once I passed a thresshold of around 100 direct connections, it made a huge difference in the results I saw.
I would suggest:
- Make sure your profile is complete, and marketing-oriented. By that, I mean focus on what you can do for others, what sorts of results you can provide, problems you can solve, rather than just a recitation of roles you’ve held. Many people post a detailed bio, but unless it’s engaging, why would that make me excited about contacting you to connect?
- See if you can get a few endorsements from people. You should plan to have a conversation with any who might do so, and to interview them on what they might think of your work. Offer to draft the endorsement yourself - this not only saves them a lot of work, but makes sure the endorsement covers the most critical points you want to communicate, and in a way that markets you well. Of course you are going to let the other person re-write it any way they see fit, though most will make few changes.
- Answer some questions on the Q&A section (thoughtfully)
- Focus on building a strong set of direct connections, not just anyone who invites you, but people to whom you have a real connection.
LinkedIn can be a great tool to uncover connections or potential connections to people in companies, roles, areas, etc. you are interested in. It is especially strong as a research tool for your search.
What ways have you found it most helpful to you?