“How did you manage to find a job outside medicine?”, “How did you decide what to do?”
Well, I just applied to all the top healthcare companies with a beautiful resume and they swiped right before they could get past my professional summary.
This is an utter and complete lie. I had absolutely no idea how to search for a job, leave alone landing one. I started where every confused soul begins the search for his/her purpose in life, (no not a church/mosque/temple) Google. Next began a frantic search for anything under the sun and it is there that I understood the HR oxymoron they call recruitment. Every job requires a few years of work experience but how do I land a job to get that experience to begin with? This corporate conundrum had me on edge for quite a well until I finally got my lucky break. It turns out that a neighbour of mine worked for a big pharmaceutical company and met a friend over coffee who knew I was searching for a job. They got talking and by some act of god began talking about my dog. My friend then snuck in edgeways that I was unemployed (and potentially unemployable) and asked her if they had an opening in the company. Long story short I sent my godawful CV in and had an interview in the office (The highlight of which was free lunch rather than my flawless performance) and I landed a job as a consultant. There was no outstanding trait or unique skill I brought to the table. I got my first job because I have a Labrador.
The purpose of this anecdote is to explain that not all is rosy and the grass is only as green as you paint it. It is important to leave clinical medicine for the right reasons. Many leave because they want to escape stress, entrance exams, complicated processes and protocols, hierarchy and most commonly a measly pay check. There is no right or wrong, that isn’t really the purpose of this post but as Stephen R. Covey points out, it doesn’t matter how fast or high you climb on the ladder if it’s leaning against the wrong wall. Secondly, life will get tough come what may. As the age old adage goes, “When the going gets tough the tough get going?
Get going where is the question?!
Ask yourself 3 questions:
- Do I want to quit medicine? :
- Why do I want to quit medicine or need a switch?
Is it the system, your peers/colleagues, burnout and frustration, nature of work, higher purpose, lack of utilization of your skills etc.? Ordinarily this introspection is difficult but data and validation makes the subjective objective (#EvidenceBasedMedicine, the irony)
- What can I expect if I quit?
For being a blasphemous soul and considering a switch I classified these into the 7 cardinal sins:
Superbia (Pride): By virtue of the “Dr”, we develop a false sense of pride. Be prepared to put it all aside to get things done. Rome was not built in a day and the only imagery we have of Romulus and Remus is of them suckling on a wolf. Yes you will meet wolves and you will have to suck up.
Tristitia (Sorrow/despair): The path isn’t easy and there’s no sugar coating needed. You will get the gasps, sighs and disappointed shakes of the head. Interventions shall be staged, tears shall be shed, and psyches will be broken. Family and friends will always want you to take the path more travelled and don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with stability.
Ira (Wrath): Wrath of the community of doctors. I have lost count of the number of doctors who have berated me especially while I worked for a pharmaceutical company, who they viewed as nothing short of satanic. I’ve been called a glorified sales representative (ironic because it is a way more challenging job than that of a doctor), an outcast, an insult to the medical profession, a failure because I couldn’t get a Radiology MD and other sweet nothings. Needless to say that this isn’t the most inspirational piece but for a person who loves to travel (12 countries and 16 states in 2 years) so I needed only to look at my Instagram profile and reminisce about the canals in Brugge, the Malabar pit vipers in Chorla, the Augustiner brewery in Salzburg, hiking in the Canadian Rockies and the food in Seoul to remember why I chose what I chose. (Escapism yes, but whatever floats your boat!)
Vanagloria (Vainglory): The chance to inspire the world. This by no means is limited to a single profession. Your story will inspire and change someone’s life out there. You need only open your eyes and help the person out. I’m by no means trying to bloat your braggadocio, I merely allude to the fact that your story is your journey and yours alone. Just remember to the toe the fine line between bragging and boasting (On second reading of this article, I should perhaps practice what I preach.)
Gula (Gluttony) & Avaritia (Greed): This one I know about all too well in the literal sense having once being 106kg (for all the impressed single ladies I am longer a baby whale but a graceful porpoise, for lack of better marine imagery). Don’t let money alone be what guides you make a decision to pick a career path or you will be disappointed. You can be a millionaire as a clinician as well.
Fornicatio (Lust): Don’t smirk. I’m not reincarnating the era of Caligula If you have to find your “untrodden path” you have try new things and fail constantly. Don’t sit around. Don’t overthink. You will STILL hit ground zero once in a while.
Acedia (Sloth): It is a slow process. The road like every other is long, arduous and treacherous. Just make sure this is something that you want. Don’t forget no job is as secure as a clinicians. Case in point, India has 1 doctor for every 2000 patients. YOU ARE ALWAYS IN DEMAND!
If you have gotten this far and are still convinced that clinical medicine is not right for you then you are ready for part III on the endless possibilities that await you on the other side. Regardless, never forget that asking for the right answer to life is like asking for another word for a thesaurus!