My apologies for falling off the face of the earth for the last few months. Work has been very busy (hooray!), and quite a bit has happened. Perhaps most importantly, 2 1/2 years after leaving a career in clinical medicine, I find myself dipping my foot back into the pool to test the medical practice waters. (WHAAAAAAT????) This actually comes as quite a bit of a surprise to me as much as anyone else. Since I left clinical medicine, I have found more happiness and job satisfaction than I ever thought possible. I had virtually zero intention of getting back into any sort of clinical practice.
So here I am, wondering what happened as I sit filling out a credentialing packet for a major academic medical center that is thicker than War and Peace, and am tentatively scheduled to start seeing patients in a few months. Like the rest of this career process I’ve been through, I thought it would be helpful to really reflect on what has taken place over the past few months and break it down academically.
First, let me say right off the bat, I am in NO WAY leaving my current career track to suddenly shift back into clinical medicine full-time. I seriously doubt I will ever let that happen. I am going to start one day a week, and simply see where it goes. I cannot tell you how many people have asked me if I’ll be going back to clinical medicine full-time when they find out about my new job. It’s funny what a reflex assumption that seems to be for everyone. People, I have drunk the freelance Koolaid, and there is no going back to turning over my schedule to someone else.
Here’s what I came up with when I really looked at what has tempted me back into the world of clinical practice:
1. This is the right department – even though I am trained as a generalist, I’ve actually been hired by a surgical department to function as a consultation specialist with a specific group of patients that I have quite a bit of experience with. This so far appears to be a much better fit for me than trying to cram my work profile into a general pediatrics department. I am thrilled at the prospect of leaving the primary care stuff up to my peers (who enjoy it and therefore probably do a much better job of it than I would anyway), so I can focus strictly on the specialist issues.
2. This is the right place - when my husband and I arrived here 2 1/2 years ago, we moved into a neighborhood that just happened to be located almost exactly halfway between two major cities, both with very strong academic medical centers. I certainly couldn’t tell one from the other when I arrived. Having worked in both communities over the past 2+ years, it’s become extremely clear which center my philosophies and ethics align with better. Lucky for me, the one I’m going to be working for is a little closer and has a much better traffic pattern, among other things. :)
3. This is the right time – I’ve had over two years to establish myself and build my reputation in the community, as well as make strong connections with other resources. This job is a natural segue into continuing to build on those connections, and establishing a bridge between the center and the community that currently doesn’t currently exist. I’ve also had time to recover from the worst aspects of my previous job, and actually miss what I did love about practicing medicine. This opportunity really arose very organically – I certainly didn’t force the issue when the time wasn’t right.
4. These are the right people – I suspect that this may be the most important factor of all. The people who have hired me already had an interest in starting up a program, and just didn’t have the right manpower on hand to do it. They clearly want this to work. They recruited me (nice dinner with wine included), met all the requests in my proposal, and have already designated support including a dedicated coordinator, dedicated nurse, designated exam room, and corner window office, despite the fact that I have yet to sign my contract. And just for the record, I signed on for 40% more than I was making at my previous hospital. I realize it’s not exactly an “apples to apples” comparison since my job description will be radically different, but in the end it’s still me bringing home a paycheck that’s a lot less anemic than before. My chairman is also very laid back – he’s the kind of guy who hires talented people to do their job and then backs off and lets them do it. So far everyone I’ve met in the department is a clear testament to this, and have been nothing but lovely.
Of course, it’s still the honeymoon period – we’ll see how I feel when I’ve actually been working for a few months. But it’s certainly a very healthy start.
More to come…..