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How Physicians Can Get Career Help


There are many ways to advance in your path as a physician, and sometimes you might not know the route for moving forward.


As a physician, it can be hard to know if you need help with managing your career. There are many ways to advance in your path as a physician, and sometimes you might not know the route for moving forward.

On the flip side, some doctors want to slow down and remain in practice without losing credibility, and the formula for that isn’t always clear either.

You can find solid direction and guidance from a number of sources, including formal mentoring, physician forums, and educational courses.

Knowing when it’s time to seek help and figuring out which type of help would be most effective for you is the first step to navigating some of the tricky aspects of your career as a physician.

Small Questions and Major Problems

The issues that you will face throughout your medical career can range from looking for small bits of industry-specific information to facing major life challenges. When you hit a snag in your career path, you can often figure out if your problem falls into one of the following categories:

You don’t know the answer to a question: “What is the typical cost of medical malpractice coverage for 0.75 FTE in my specialty?”

You need/want to attain a specific goal: “I have one year to secure a grant for my research.”

You are having a distressing obstacle at work: “My practice partners are ganging up on me.”

You are having a major personal problem: “My life is falling apart.”

It’s hard to figure out the solution for any of these problems completely on your own, but the type of help you need is different for each type of problem.

Crowdsource Advice

Doctors can often find input about complicated medical practice issues among peers in the doctors’ lounge.

And the growth of virtual versions of the doctors’ lounge in physician social media groups offers another way to seek peer input. Groups like the White Coat Investor, Physician on Fire, SoMeDocs, and more, are well moderated and generally offer reliable, thoughtful information.

Whether in person or online, it’s best to carefully look at all the answers offered to you as you consider how to apply peer input to your own personal situation.

Physicians in different geographic regions or who have different goals than you will have varied experiences and share a range of insights about issues—like how reimbursement is calculated for taking call or whether it is beneficial to set up an LCC for medical-legal work.

Nevertheless, you can gain a lot from peers who have already been where you want to go.


When you need guidance with a complicated and specialized process, like setting up a new procedural suite or finding sources for your research funding, you might need to talk to someone who is familiar with the exact same process that you are planning to embark on.

Often, a more senior colleague from your training program, at the hospital where you work, or from your state or national specialty society can offer advice and tips. This type of mentorship can be short term as you are building a foundation in your career, but one or more mentors might remain available for you to bounce off ideas from time to time.

As you become more experienced and recognized in your field, you might develop long-term collaborative projects with your mentors, like working on publications or regulatory committees that move your whole specialty forward.

Courses and Conferences

Focused courses and educational programs can be great sources for gaining skills, such as managing financial aspects of your practice, organizational strategies, or working well with challenging people.

You can often get continuing medical education (CME) credit, but if you have an important objective in mind, a course might be worth it for you even if it doesn’t provide you with any formal type of credit.

Traditionally, courses have been on-site, which also opens the door for finding mentors and chatting in person with other doctors who can exchange advice. As more courses move to an online format, convenience can be an asset, but this personal camaraderie may be compromised.

Career Coach

Sometimes a mentor who is familiar with the process of how to attain your goals isn’t available to you.

Some doctors are beginning to seek out formal mentoring when they don’t have built-in access to a senior physician who is the right fit for their needs. In this type of situation, you might reach out to a professional career coach.

Physician coaches often help guide doctors who are trying to make a career change. Examples include transitioning to the pharmaceutical industry or working in the health insurance industry. You may have to pay for this type of service, or it could be covered by your educational CME fund.

If your situation is more serious—such as a personal issue, then it might not be solved by speaking with a career coach or making a career change. You might be better served by reaching out to a licensed therapist. They can help you by diagnosing an underlying condition, counseling, or identifying a life situation beyond your professional setting that you need to change.

Sometimes doctors need help with career management. There are many places where you can find help.

Depending on where you are in your career and how much help you need, you can quickly find guidance, or you might need to work with someone who helps you work through your challenges by helping you build a long-term plan.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
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