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5 Signs It May Be Time to Look for a New Physician Job

Jackson Physician Search
September 15, 2021

In a new whitepaper from Jackson Physician Search, multiple VPs of Recruitment report seeing an influx in candidates seeking new physician jobs. Some of these physicians report feeling let down by how their employers handled the early days of the pandemic, while for others, the pandemic heightened their need to be near family or to balance work with a personal life. The whitepaper explores the post-COVID physician job market in depth, but as a physician, you may be wondering, “Does this apply to me?” or “How do I know if it’s time to look for a new physician job?”

For many physicians, used to working hard and powering through challenging classes, tough rotations, and never-ending shifts, it can be hard to know if a difficult physician job is just another challenge that will get easier with time, or if perhaps, it’s time to look for a new physician job. It can be tough to know for certain, but there are several signs that indicate it’s time to move on. Keep reading to discover if anything listed here applies to you in your current physician job, and if so, it’s likely time to explore your options.

1. Stalled Goals

Physicians are known to be high achievers, and for many, the need to achieve doesn’t stop when they finally add the “MD” to their name. So, how are your professional goals progressing in your current role? Whether it’s developing a new skill, pursuing a relevant certification, or increasing your level of leadership responsibility in your practice, the goals you set for yourself shouldn’t be put on hold due to the demands of your physician job. If your current role does not allow the time and space you need to grow professionally, it may be time to consider other physician jobs.

2. Lack of Support

Physicians are heroes in their communities, but unlike comic book superheroes, they cannot do their work alone. Your physician job should come with a supportive boss and collaborative colleagues. Better yet, you should also have a mentor to regularly advise and encourage you as you pursue your goals and navigate your physician career. If you find yourself struggling to get through each day on your own, it’s time to look for physician jobs that provide more support.

3. Ongoing Burnout

A 2021 physician burnout survey by Medscape found happiness among physicians took an unsurprising plunge in 2020. Pre-pandemic, 69% of physicians said they were happy at work, but in the most recent survey, that figure shrank to 49%. When asked if they felt “burned out,” 42% of physician respondents said, “yes,” reporting the top causes of burnout as too many bureaucratic tasks, long hours, and lack of respect from admin, colleagues, or staff. The result? Physicians with low energy, feelings of negativity toward their employers, and apathy for patients. If this describes you, burnout may be the issue.

There’s a lot of talk about physician burnout and depression, though it’s important to note the difference between the two. According to the American Medical Association’s VP of Professional Satisfaction, Christine Sinksy, MD, depression is a medical condition, while burnout is a syndrome caused by external work circumstances. Changing physician jobs won’t cure clinical depression, but a new physician job can alleviate burnout.

4. Haunted by the Big Questions

Is this all there is? Am I living the life I’m meant to have? The COVID-19 pandemic had people of every profession rethinking how they spend their time, but physicians were uniquely impacted by the circumstances of 2020 and beyond. Whether you’re practicing on the front lines or via telemed, you may feel differently about your physician career than you did a year and a half ago.

A recent Jackson Physician Search White Paper explores the impact of COVID-19 on physician jobs. Through interviews with multiple physician recruiters, the report makes it apparent that physicians are shifting what they value in physician jobs. VP of Recruiting at Jackson Physician Search Carly Clem reports seeing an influx of candidates seeking physician jobs closer to where they grew up or in smaller towns with a slower pace of life. “We’re less likely to see candidates solely motivated by money,” Clem says. “Candidates have a little more perspective on what’s important.”

If you find yourself frequently asking, “Is this all there is?” or wondering if your current physician job is as good as it gets, it is time to explore your options.

5. Unsatisfactory Income

While the JPS White Paper indicates physicians care about much more than income, they still deserve to be paid what they are worth. Obviously, physician salaries vary based on specialty, location, and other factors, but if you compare your income to the latest physician compensation and find it lacking, you may find yourself feeling undervalued and resentful of your employer. Before you decide it’s time to move on, be sure to fairly evaluate apples to apples. Look at the structure of the physician compensation model as well as incentives and benefits. If, after a fair assessment, you still feel undervalued, it may be time to search for a physician job with a more competitive compensation model.

You didn’t become a physician by giving up at the first sign of difficulty, so it may go against your nature to admit your current physician job is not right for you. However, if you are experiencing the signs described here, it’s likely time to reevaluate your physician job options. An experienced recruiter from Jackson Physician Search is ready to help you identify physician jobs that match your needs. Or, download our new Physician Job Search Playbook where we outline everything you need to begin your next job search including the importance of working with physician recruiters.

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