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Good tips for leaving a bad job

MDlinx Apr 02, 2024

Maybe you’re loving your first job post-residency—or maybe you’re not. In an ideal world, the job we’ve chosen is the perfect complement to our skills, experience, and personal life, but things don’t always turn out as planned. 

Many young professionals, including physicians, have left their job in pursuit of a new opportunity. With any luck, these transitions are smooth and preserve a net-benefit on your career as a whole. Especially when you’re first starting your career as a physician, you may find yourself desiring a better opportunity, more money, or a new location to call home. Or, maybe you don’t like your boss, colleagues, or work environment. 


Whatever the reason, leaving a job—especially as an early career physician—must be done properly. The following tips can help with this transition. 


Define your goals and follow protocol


It’s important to clarify your desires for a new job and find that opportunity before quitting your current employment. Perhaps you prefer in-patient to out-patient care. Maybe you want a role with more management or leadership opportunities and less patient care. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s important to leave a job on good terms, define your career goals, and follow the proper resignation protocol.

In a blog post for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Lalita Abhyankar, MD, MHS, advises that, before resigning, you have a “future narrative ready.”

Abhyanker L. The Art and Science of Quitting Your Job. American Academy of Family Physicians.  October 12, 2021.

Perhaps more important, she says, is the need to exercise restraint when speaking with your supervisor—although it may prove tempting to hurl some barbs on your way out, it’s probably best to resist this temptation.


“Even if you haven’t had a good relationship, the crux of quitting well is to at least try to leave on good terms,” Dr. Abhyankar wrote. “Schedule a formal meeting with them to make it clear that something’s up. Try to do it with their convenience in mind, but also within a week of asking so that you’re not sitting on your decision for too long.”

It helps indicate to your manager that you’ve tried to explore opportunities for your interests and ambitions within your current job but don’t see a path to achieve them.


Request an exit interview


Even if your soon-to-be-former employer doesn’t formally offer exit interviews, ask for one. More specifically, ask to speak with someone from HR. It’s OK to complain, but be constructive, so that your points are actionable.

Comment on the cultural and organizational environment and proffer advice on how to bridge any gaps. At the very least, the exit interview will give you a chance to get things off your chest—even if nothing changes.


Give enough notice


Giving your boss ample notice (ie, 60 to 120 days) gives them enough time to find replacements and adjust. Doing so can make the lives of your colleagues easier. 

Your boss will appreciate your consideration and potentially offer to reach out to their network to find you a better job, which is particularly helpful early on in your career. 

Giving ample notice also allows you to air any grievances or concerns, which could prove actionable for the benefit of the next person who assumes your role. Of course, your boss may be vindictive in your final days at work, and stick you with undesirable shifts, but this is unlikely.

According to an article published by the NEJM Career Center, there are a number of entities you will have to contact about your departure:

Darves B. Moving On: Issues to Consider When Making a Career Move. NEJM Career Center. October 19, 2011.

“Of equal importance is planning for timely notification of all of the individuals and entities affected by the departure, from colleagues and patients to health plans and malpractice carriers. Colleagues and malpractice carriers should be informed of the prospective departure date as soon as feasible.” 


Additionally, state and specialty medical societies, medical-licensing entities, state prescriber-monitoring agencies, and the DEA should also be notified of your move as soon as possible.


Review your contract


Before quitting, it’s important to review any patient-associated contractual obligations or prohibitions, including non-compete or non-solicitation clauses.

Keep in mind that contracts often stipulate that any patients belong to the practice. Thus, even if your new job is close by, you can’t migrate care.


Resign with a new job in hand


To avoid any lag in pay, it’s important to resign once you have a signed contract in hand. The contract should specify a clear starting date. You’ll need to plan for credentialing, which can take between 60 and 90 days. For those with longer work histories, this process can take longer.

Silverman M. Director’s Corner: How to Quit Your Job. Emergency Physicians Monthly (EPM). February 1, 2022.




What this means for you

The process of leaving a job can be fraught with technicalities. Some general tips for early career physicians include finding a new job before you quit, reviewing your contractual obligations, and leaving on good terms. It’s a good idea not to burn any bridges on the way out. Medical communities are smaller than many think, and harmony will benefit future prospects.


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