Is the Grass really Greener? #illumedati

Hey everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays again. Today we’re going to talk about “Is the Grass really Greener?” in regards to changing jobs.

Is the Grass really Greener?
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Is the Grass really Greener?

I’ve talked about jobs a lot. Like how to choose your first job, and changing jobs, and looking for another job. I’ve also talked about the continuous search for The Ideal Job and even the Temporary First Job.

However, today’s article is because a friend of a friend isn’t too happy in their current job. I don’t know this person personally, but they seem downright depressed. As you might imagine he’s in an employee/associate track in a private practice group that has partnership. Let’s add to the fact that he’s in “desirable” location for which recruiting is pretty easy. Then if you add in he works longer (and more undesirable) hours than the rest of the group and you can see why he’d want to leave.

Just to give you some background — radiology in general looks like it has a pretty good market these last few years. If how the ACR Job Site looks and all the emails I get from recruiters are any indication then I would venture a guess that the current radiology job market is wide open.

What kind of advice can I give to a person like this?

Well, first things first. He needs to really look at his contract. What is the termination clause? Who pays tail coverage? A lot of these things will change when/how you can leave your current job.

A “normal” termination clause is around 90 days, but I’ve seen as long as 180, and in some cases even a whole year (which is kind of ridiculous).

I’ve seen varying degrees of when a group will pay for your tail coverage when you leave, but two years seems to be about the norm. Meaning you must work for the group for at least 2 years before you leave, otherwise you are responsible for your own tail coverage.

Tail coverage isn’t an insignificant amount, and it can be pretty ridiculous for OB/Gyns — so this knowledge could change when you are able to leave your current job.

After you get these things regarding your contract out of the way, it’s really time for some introspection:

As mundane as it may sound, you really should sit down and write a list of all the things you don’t like at your current job.

This is what I mean by “Is the Grass really Greener?”

Your current job has problems and so you want to leave them. However, who is to say your new job won’t be worse? You need to go into the job search with an idea of what you want. I think doctors, especially young ones, tend to be blinded by $$$ where this new job gives you a lot more money. Then all those things that bothered you about the old job are still there… and in fact they may be worse.

Those few extra dollars may allow you to “deal with it” again for another year or two, but you’re probaly going to get frustrated and leave that job too. The reason for this is because you didn’t fix the underlying problem.. finding a reasonable job that you like — or at the very least you’re “ok” with. I’ve already discussed that changing jobs has it own costs to deal with.

Let’s get back to my friend’s friend above.

His major problem is that he feels the need to stay close to family, which unfortunately for him, is in a high cost of living area which is “desirable”. There is always an intrinsic demand for this region and so there is definitely a sense of “revolving door” of new associates/employees through these private practice groups.

The way I see it is he has three choices:

If he wants to stay in his current area, then he probably needs to find a job outside of a normal private practice group. Most likely this would require working for a hospital as employee, taking an academic job, or doing locums. Of course, since this area is desirable, those jobs aren’t that easy to get either. So his only option may be to work multiple locums jobs to get his foot in the door somewhere. Then when someone retires or they need more help, he would be on the short list of people they may want to hire full time.

The other choice is that he moves somewhere else. I do understand the want to be close to family. However, maybe he can find a job that is relatively close, perhaps few hours away by car or short plane ride, or something to that effect. The flexibility to go outside of his current location would do wonders for helping his job prospects — and finding the job that is right for him.

The third choice is that he takes a job with a teleradiology outfit (vRad, Radiology On Call, etc) where he can work from home. In general, I don’t really think this is a great long term plan. From what I’ve heard the current work from home teleradiology groups seem to want to overwork their radiologists and don’t pay them very competitively. That said, this may still be an option for him as long as he understands the compromise he would be making.

After making the above decision, then he needs to focus on the day-to-day workload of what he wants to read and how much. That list of things that he made his current job so strenuous is important here.

Another important shorter list is the list of “dealbreakers”. An example of a dealbreaker would be something he would never do regardless of how good the rest of the job is. For example, some groups may have their radiologists do a month straight of nights 8pm-6am. Some people just simply can’t do that. Or it could be something like requiring the radiologist to rotate between 10 different sites which are between 45 minutes to an hour apart. The need to drive to a different site every day may be dealbreaker for you.

The most important thing after making the decision of “what kind of job” is not money. It’s always nice to be able to throw big numbers around about making such and such amount — it makes you feel like you’re earning your worth or something maybe. However, in terms of career longevity and happiness, I I think money is really not very important at all.

Let me ask you, if your new job pays less but gives you more time and better job satisfaction… isn’t that worth cutting your expenses some to compensate?

This is what I mean by “Is the Grass really Greener?” You’ve just decided that you need to leave a job because it’s literally killing you, and then you jump into another job without really thinking about it — just hoping it is better.

Just remember, the money has to come from somewhere.


When choosing a new job, you really need to decide whether this new job is actually better for you or not.

Are all the things that bothered you about your old job still at this new job?

Moving to a different location may change things for your dramatically.

Consider your career longevity and happiness — and try not to worry about the money so much when it comes to choosing a job.

Medicine Mondays Sensei


Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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