Most physicians I speak with tell me that once they decided to become a physician they expected to practice medicine for the rest of their lives – or at least their professional lives. That perception also colors physicians’ expectations when considering leaving practice for a nonclinical career. And while a lifelong career in practice may be expected, nonclinically, the timetable is very different.
With 20-years in corporate America I became very fluent in the executive career lifecycle. I often describe it this way:
Depending on the results of year five, I could add objectives for years six and seven, but seven just about tops it out for most executives absent some meteoric rise.
So, does this mean that if you’re 40 or 45 when leaving practice, you should expect to be on the job hunt four to six more times? And, even if you’re in your late 50’s do you have two or three job searches to look forward to? The answer is both yes and no.
Will you likely change jobs on a typical cycle at three to five or five to seven year intervals? Yes, you probably will. Will that change require the same effort and follow the same process as your initial departure from clinical practice? No, it should not, not if you’ve planned effectively for your career lifecycle.
Actually, if you recognize the validity of your career lifecycle, your change and/or your advancement can be nearly seamless, and certainly painless.
The most important element of career lifecycle management is to have your own strategic career lifecycle plan. During the next couple of weeks I’ll address what I consider two essential elements of that plan. However, for today, ask yourself two questions:
It should be easy to assess the first question. However, do your accomplishment and activities correspond to my timeline? If you’re ahead of the curve… just advance everything forward a bit. However, if you’re behind, you’re behind. Get moving or someone else may take control of your career lifecycle.
The second question is critical because at its core is the question, do you have a plan? Believe me, you must. Most physicians tell me the elemental reason for their dissatisfaction in clinical practice is a loss of control (control of many things in many areas). A plan gives you the control in your nonclinical initiatives that you don’t have in practice.