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5 tips for success in changing jobs


There are times when walking away from a job or position is the right thing to do, and there is value in doing it well.

Amanda Hill, JD

Amanda Hill, JD

The most difficult thing about transitions is that you’ve never been taught how to quit. You’ve trained yourself to work, and succeed, and suck it up. Quitting isn’t a word you’re used to. But there are times when walking away from a job or position is the right thing to do, and there is value in doing it well. I’ve seen it all, from doctors leaving voluntarily to being pushed out to being fired.

You’re transitioning to another thing, whether it’s for personal reasons or retirement, but you aren’t giving up. Changing and adjusting to your world, your family, your mental health, your inner core, and following your internal agency and goals, is good and healthy. It’s certainly not giving up. Sometimes you just need to think about the details of the transition and take the time to strategize.

Here are five tips to keep in mind before putting in your notice:

1. Review your current contract

Most providers have a physician employment agreement, or an investment in something they need to unwind. Sit down, review your contract, and start to go over all the things that are going to be “triggered” by you leaving. Sometimes there is a 90 day notice in employment agreements or even a year long notice in some partnership agreements, so you need to be aware of this in advance. Look at your contract. Is there a clear exit without cause for 90 days notice, for example, or does your agreement require you to show some sort of breach? Know what you have in front of you before doing anything else.

2. Think before you pull the trigger

It’s also important to think about WHEN you want to put in your notice. Get your ducks in a row. Maybe you want to use some CME money or vacation time. Be strategic about when you put in your notice, because you can only pull that trigger once.

It’s important to not just walk out the door and leave patients wondering what happened. Take the time to talk to your patients. Even if you have a non-solicit provision in your contract, no one can muzzle you or shield the basic facts from your patients. It doesn’t mean you are soliciting them by explaining that you are leaving the practice and staying in town. Most states have notification requirements that are specific to your state that you have a duty to notify your patients and let them know how to get their medical records. Often it’s a 30 day notice that you are leaving, and sometimes you tell them where you are going, and you can then let them know how to contact you if necessary.

3. What is going to hit you on the way out?

Think about what you are responsible for AFTER you leave. Are you responsible for paying for it when you leave? That can be costly so start to get an estimate on how much that will cost you. While you still have a job, take the time to do the research on which company and which quote may work best for you for a tail policy.

Look for any claw-backs. Did they give you a sign-on bonus that must be re-paid if you leave within a certain period of time? Does your quitting trigger an automatic sale of any investment interests? Look at what money is coming out of your pocket when you leave this job so you can prepare for it. Or wait and put in notice after that trigger. If you can’t avoid it, you may want to save up and tighten your belt and put in your notice when you can handle the claw-back obligations. Often you can even negotiate those down.

If you are in a state with a non-compete, take a look at the terms to ensure that your next job isn’t in direct violation with the terms. Given the FTC ruling, you can use this to argue that a broad non-compete isn’t favored and see if you can get traction getting out of it.

4. Use your lawyer as a tool

People try to avoid hiring lawyers - I get it. Attorneys are expensive. But lawyers can point out key elements that are missing or need fixing in your contract, and they can listen to your leverage and help you formulate it and communicate it well. Give yourself the time to find your strength and have them help you write it down and use it in negotiations.

But just like all resources, attorneys provide a service. Know how to use it well. Don’t wait until you are in a crisis or a tragedy to get a good lawyer involved. You may not understand your current agreement and a lawyer can help you understand it. You may need help finding your leverage so that you have room to push back on some claw-backs or other obligations. I had a client once who offered to work for more than her 90 day notice and take all the call if they let her out of the non-compete, and they agreed! If you don’t want the attorney to email your employer, consider asking your attorney ghost write emails for you so that you are confident you are saying it right. Then you can negotiate from a position of strength knowing you are asking the right questions.

5. This is a time to look inward

Many times the job seems like the problem, because you have conflict with someone you work with or the hours/schedule seem like they are killing you. Think about your negative emotions and how they may be guiding or directing your paths. Is there really a threat to your job, or a perceived one? Is there a way you can re-direct something and work on your mindset through coaching, argue for a reduced schedule, or in some way re-think the job so that it’s a better fit for you?

This is the perfect time to sit down and think through what you really want, rather than just hopping to another job with the same problems. Negotiation isn’t something you think about until often you have a contract sitting in front of you. But negotiation is always present and evolving, and you can negotiate right this moment while you still have a job. You can showcase your leverage, negotiate a stronger renewal contract, make sure you highlight what you do and how invaluable you are, and think about what the employer or partner needs and use that to your advantage. And you can interview, start to think about investments and partnerships, and start to negotiate for your future.

This transition does not have to be the end, it’s just the end of a chapter. By thinking through the exit and making sure not to burn a bridge, you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

For more information, please check out our free webinar, Predictable to Pink Slip: Mastering Your Next Career Move

When: Jun 18, 2024 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

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Amanda Hill, J.D., is a health care attorney based in Austin, Texas, and founder of Guard My Practice, an online video platform for physicians offering 15-minute weekly continuing medical education videos that guide them through complicated subjects, including contract negotiations, fraud and abuse issues, employment conflicts and the basics of setting up a practice.

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