It’s getting to that point where I am seriously considering not showing up to work tomorrow. I don’t know if you are like me, spending your days googling – should I quit medicine? Or googling – alternative career options for doctors. Searching for a magical answer to all of my problems. I haven’t made a decision yet, but decided to blog about my current thought process.

If you google reasons to quit medicine you come across endless lists of why people consider leaving. You also come across reasons why it is so hard to leave. If you’re looking for inspiration or an escape plan, you may have looked at that boring list of alternative careers for doctors. Maybe you’ve come across the “Drop out club”. Looking for hope and the fact that you’re not alone in how you feel.

From my endless searching I’ve realised that this sentiment is widespread. So many doctors are questioning why they are doing what they’re doing. Some have made that leap to the non-medic side already, and succeeded. Others remain doctors and post about how miserable they are on online forums. Some are now dedicating their time to help other doctors find their way, and a job that actually suits them.

I’ve decided to make a summary of it all, an amalgamation of all these searches in one post.

Let’s start from the beginning, the natural first thought in this process.

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Why do I want to quit medicine?

The reasons for leaving medicine are many, and naturally vary from person to person. There is no right or wrong answer to this. It may be the unachievable workload, long hours, negative patient interaction, high stakes, bullying, never ending exams, burnout or the fact that you just plain don’t like it.

It could be all the above reasons combined, or something else. In the end, sometimes you wake up one day and realise you would rather do anything but go to work. Whatever the reasons, you know when you want to leave the medical world behind.

Maybe you hear senior doctors telling you to “hang in there, it will get better”. But maybe you just don’t believe them, and think no matter what happens you probably will never like it.

Do you just keep trying?

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Why is it so hard to leave?

The reason why quitting is so hard is due to the multitude of reasons as to why you became a doctor in the first place.

Being a doctor is a unique profession, you see people at their most vulnerable. You’re in a position to help and can actually make a positive impact.

It’s also a stable, secure job. Sometimes people’s self worth and identity is tied up in the fact that they are a doctor. It could be linked to others perceptions and expectations of you. Maybe you have a mortgage that only came through because you’re a medic.

It could also be the only thing you really know. So many doctors went from high school to med school to work. Is there even a life out there if you’re not a doctor?

On the other side, you might have not found the right niche in medicine. Maybe there will be a unique place in the medical field that is perfect for you. It’s just not known to you yet.

I guess there are a lot of people in the world who are not doctors. They seem to be doing alright.

Jokes aside, it can be difficult. It may feel like you’re ‘throwing your life and career away’. All that you have worked for and invested in, gone. But maybe it isn’t a waste, there are transferable skills that you possess.

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Is it possible to quit being a doctor?

Of course it is. Many doctors have successfully left medicine. See my list on notable doctors who changed to a very different career path, and actually did extraordinary things.

So this goes to show that quitting medicine does not equal to homelessness and starvation. You aren’t a ‘failure’ or a ‘quitter’. The fact that you got to where you are now shows how determined you are. I think anyone who is seriously considering a career change from medicine has been pushing through their work for quite some time.

Medicine isn’t easy. Quitting is even harder. So give yourself credit. Sometimes the best thing to do for yourself is to close one door, and allow for another door to open and let in new possibilities.

Maybe your new career won’t work, but…maybe it will. Both scenarios are just as likely.

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Alternative career options for doctors

I have spent hours searching alternative career options for doctors.

The most frustrating thing is that no one has the answer.

In my google search I came across lists like working for an insurance company, in pharmaceuticals, immigration health, education, medical writer, telehealth…

I joined a forum for creative careers for doctors. I paid to speak to a career coach and did a personality test.

I’ve been searching for answers for over a year now. What have I found?

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There is no magical answer

Unfortunately, there is no magical answer. As much as I’d love to have someone come and tell me, “hey do this job, you’ll love it and everything will be great”, that just won’t happen.

I’m not going to let this deter me though or get me down.

In the end, we can’t go to anyone else for our answer.

Google doesn’t know who you are, and everyone is a multifaceted person. No one doctor is the same. Maybe you’re talented in languages, sports, visual arts, writing or technology.

So search within yourself. Figure out what you like, dislike. What is it that you value, what is it that you want from life?

You have your answer, within.

I’ll keep you posted on my true answer.

Feature Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash