Prioritize Engagement and Boost Career Satisfaction

As a current resident or fellow, you have grown up in today’s healthcare environment. As a result, you may not be as sensitive to some of the frustrations that more “seasoned” physicians like me find so annoying. But career satisfaction is a topic you should strongly consider as you embark on your search for that ideal job.

finances-career-satisfactionThere is good evidence that career satisfaction is not running high. Numerous blogs about financial topics for physicians, like the one written by my friend Future Proof, MD have cropped up. That’s cool. Physician’s really need the financial schooling. We make a lot of stupid financial decisions.

But many of them, such as Physician on FIRE and Passive Income MD, are heavily devoted to helping physicians retire as soon as humanly possible.

Even the White Coat Investor, with almost 1,000 posts and his own book (The White Coat Investor: A Doctor’s Guide to Personal Finance,) devotes a fair amount of content to helping his readers to be able to bail from the profession if they need or want to.

That tells me that there are many of us really worried about how much longer we can tolerate the annoying, frustrating, and depressing parts of our job.

There are several blogs devoted to addressing burnout in physicians, including The Center for Professional and Personal Renewal, Doctor’s Crossing, and the granddaddy of anti-burnout blogs: The Happy MD.

And there is a whole industry built around seeking a non-clinical career, as I discuss in several posts at Vital Physician Executive.

It really starts to make you wonder.

career satisfactionHowever, you can improve your odds of finding a great position with long-term career satisfaction. You need to start with some meaningful screening of possible job types and locations. Then you need to get answers to some really important questions during your interviews.

I don’t think I can improve on the list of questions that Dike Drummond presents in his post entitled Physician Job Search – Interview Questions You Must Ask. Follow his instructions. Write the questions down. And write down the answers as you interview prospective employers.

In that list of questions, there are several that address the issue of culture and its related issue: engagement. Engagement is a way of summarizing how much inspiration, loyalty and pride are generated by your job and your workplace. You want to know if the culture of the new employer fosters those feelings in its current employees. If it does, then you will likely experience the same feelings.

Dr. Drummond addresses culture heavily in his list of questions. But I would add one more explicit question about the leadership of the group:

Is the CEO a physician?

It turns out that this is a major determinant of engagement in the physician workplace. Athenahealth published the results of a survey in 2014. It demonstrated what many of us have known for years: that physicians employed by organizations run by physicians, are much more likely to feel engaged (proud, loyal, inspired) as those employed by non-physician led groups.

This was true whether the group itself was physician-owned or hospital- or health system-owned.

The upshot is this: it is better to pass up the higher paid hospital job (unless the hospital CEO is a physician – and only 6% are) in favor of the offer by the physician-led group. Otherwise, you may quickly become disenchanted, frustrated, burnt-out, and looking for a new position or a non-clinical career before you know it.

Questions? Contact me directly at

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and I do not provide legal advice. My role is to provide education and coaching to physicians to help them find a great job and avoid costly mistakes as employed physicians. I strongly recommend that every physician entering into an employment agreement, or any contract, engage an experienced local attorney to assist them in their negotiations.

About johnjurica

Podcaster, entrepreneur, and former hospital chief medical officer writes about physician leadership and career transition.
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