When you begin to want to change your current situation in medicine there can be a few fears surrounding this. Changing what you’re used to is putting yourself into unexplored territory. One of my biggest and more practical worries is about finances. Creating an exit strategy financially can help to ease these fears.
Stepping away from a full time clinical job means no more regular pay check, no sick leave or holiday pay. This is the real world where there are bills to pay. Rent, utilities, phone bills, car expenses, student debt, and groceries. These are the basics. It can feel scary and overwhelming to wonder how you’re going to make ends meet.
The fear of how to pay your bills is a legitimate one. Worst case scenarios that may float through your mind are not necessarily right though. Will I be penniless and living on the streets? Evicted? Probably not. Let’s face the fears and break it down.
Exit strategy: financial planning
- Take a look at your current situation
What are your expenses? Savings? Debt? Do you have dependents or a mortgage? Put the facts on paper and ask for help figuring this out if you need it.
- When do you need to leave clinical medicine?
Can you hang on for another year? Do you have to leave no matter what within a few months? How much time do you need to get your financial affairs in order?
- How long can you live with your current savings and no income?
Obviously having more saved can relieve the pressure for the initial months post finishing up your work.
- What is the job you plan to do?
Maybe you’re not sure what to do. That’s totally fine. How will you support yourself in the mean time?
- Back up plan to generate money
Leading on from step four. If you can, make a plan to get an income between leaving medicine and your ideal work. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Locum, telehealth, picking up casual shifts or a totally unrelated low stress gig.
- Safety net
Not everyone is lucky to have a safety net. However, look at those around you who can help support you. Maybe your parents will let you move back in, or your spouse is willing to shoulder a bit more of the financial burden. It can be comforting to know that if worst comes to worst you’re not actually going to be on the streets.
- Get creative
Think outside the box. Ask people around you what they do or have done. Do your research. Creative ways to support yourself financially can come up.
Finance plan – check
There can be endless worries with leaving medicine, but at least having a pretty clear idea of your finances can be a nice box to check off.
So when you hesitate to make your change and imagine that worst case scenario you can pause for a moment. Finances have a solid plan, now what next?