“If it doesn’t get better, I’m out of here !” Many physicians have had that thought at some point.  Medical practices are much busier, the 15-minute visit remains, insurance companies require more paperwork, administrative mandates multiply, and electronic medical records don’t simplify work,

A 2012 national survey of over 13,000 doctors by the non-profit Physicians Foundation found that greater than two-thirds of physicians surveyed felt negatively about their profession. In the survey, 16% said they would work part-time, retire, change professions, or at least consider getting out of medicine. Doctors want to leave medicine to get out of an unhappy situation and/or to finally start doing something they think is more interesting.

You may have lost energy or enthusiasm for work,  be waiting for something to change or wondering if it is time to move on. Most physicians will not leave medicine.   Your career is your creation and you can  breathe some life back in to your work.

Enhance Your Work

You might think that you have to move to another position or organization to feel energized about your work.  You may not have to change your position or institution.  There is a good chance that you can enhance your current work situation. Work enrichment means finding a way to get the growth, challenge,,or renewal you seek, without leaving your current practice.  Changing what you do (i.e., content) or changing how you do it (i.e., process) is the key.

A 2-step process to job enhancement:

First, consider which of the following strategies  provides you with energy and stimulation in your current position.

  • Using your existing skills in new ways and settings
  • Using some existing skills more than other existing skills
  • Refreshing some skills that you haven’t had a chance to use in a while
  • Learning and applying new skills
  • Having greater visibility, challenge, or reward
  • Getting to do more that reflects your values

For analogies in your past, think about a time when you felt energized about your work.  What were you doing? What were you learning?

Second, once you have clarity about what things energize you, create an on-the-job learning experience. Look for an opportunity or problem to solve, right where you are. The purpose is to develop a new skill or trait that moves you toward what is personally energizing. For example, you may wish to be a better negotiator. Create a learning experience that includes the following three steps to develop a new skill:

  • Observation: Find an expert negotiator you can observe. Find another negotiator to make comparisons. What do you notice? If you can’t find someone to observe, watch a video on negotiation.
  • Selected Participation:  Partner with an expert, and take on a limited, defined role. For example, prepare opening remarks with a vendor, then pass the baton to your mentor.
  • Key Responsibility: After completing Steps 1 and 2, take primary responsibility for a negotiation. If you can create an opportunity to get feedback, you will learn even faster.

In the changing environment of healthcare, there almost always is something new to learn or another approach to take to energize your career.  Remember that your career is your creation!

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