What Do You Do About Your Job When Your Life Changes?
There are so many ways your life can take a turn, a change in direction, which sends you down an entirely different path than you were going on. What do you do with your job when this happens? You might’ve launched your career years ago and have built up a great patient base with the years ahead looking bright because of all the hard work put in.
It could be a management or ownership change that impacts the culture where the environment goes from being “the work you enjoy” to “the work that pays the bills.” In other cases it might be a business change which impacts reimbursements or how you are compensated. These are the risks of being in the business world and we are all susceptible to them.
What about a scenario where the needs of your family change. When you joined the practice you might have been single. Then got married. Had a couple of kids. Both spouses may be working and that family support which you didn’t need now becomes a “top-of-the-list” concern. How do you pivot at that point?
Or you could be like the doctor who thought the offer he got four years before finishing residency and fellowship would be the dream job, only to find out that there was a better fit somewhere else. What happens if he signed the contract already and was receiving a loan reimbursement stipend for months?
How about this scenario? One of our clients had already finished training, signed a contract, made the move to the new area, was deciding if they should buy or rent and in the middle of the discussion it turns out that one spouse didn’t want to say there. Reasons being the community was too small, it wasn’t a vibrant city, limited school choices, even small things like no real authentic venues they could go out for dinner, and on top of it all the circle of friends they would develop could put their work at risk if word got out that they were not hot on staying there. This all came after reviewing and negotiating at least a handful of contracts already. What’s the best thing to do in this situation? Can they walk away from the contract they are in?
In all of these scenarios there is a significant life change which can create a lot of stress and put strain on family and business relationships. The key here is to get out ahead of them as soon as possible. The earlier you can get things in order to shift in a new direction the better.
For example, when there is a change in the business environment or the leadership which causes you to look elsewhere step number one is to review the original terms you agreed to. There might be incentives, bonus or other benefits that you have to return in the event the contract is terminated. If you are planning to stay in the area, even more so there could be some restrictions on your ability to continue working there. Pulling out the contracts you’ve signed and getting a clear understanding of how you can exit is a must. Chances are you’ll have some 3 or 6 month window they’ll want to have notice that you’re leaving. Watch out for the “with and without cause” termination provisions as those can create even more difficulty for you. If you had a physician contract lawyer help you with the original contract they probably helped you address this section for you. For those who didn’t have major needs for family support early on and now have to make a change, it’s critical to start the search early and go into it with as much data and history so you can use this to get a feel for what it would be like to transplant yourself from one area to the next.
Depending on how many years you have been with that job, you’ve probably gotten a feel for what it takes to start on a base, build from there, maybe hit bonuses and then become self-sufficient. How is that going to play out at the new location? Can it be reproduced? Or better yet, is there a way to shorten the time it takes to get up to full speed.
How about those who commit years in advance or maybe even a few weeks prior and then decide to cancel the agreement to go somewhere else? Can you get out of the contract? Yes. How difficult will it be? It could be costly. What will it do to your reputation? That’s hard to say. This is where the golden rule comes into play. The more honest and fair you can be with the location you are leaving, and for reasons that can be digested and explained the better the exit from the contract can go. Just make sure you get something lined up before you provide the notice.
At the end of the day, your workplace and your long-term goals need to be in alignment. If something is not a right fit, you shouldn’t delay in getting started with the transition so that it can be as smooth of a bumpy ride as possible. These kinds of decisions affect many lives so we should go about them in as reasonable of a fashion as possible.
A plug for those in residency and fellowship, the earlier you start thinking about where you should go the less of a hassle you’ll run into with these situations. Think of the day you enter the last two years of training. That should be your go-time to get moving on potential job offers.
Let us know if you have questions on any of these issues. We have a team dedicating to doing whatever it takes to help you through these changes.