Monday, December 31, 2012

Before you quit residency, consider these 3 questions

Every week, I seem to get a few emails from disgruntled residents who want to quit. They don't enjoy clinical medicine and they want to get out ASAP. Of course, many are burdened by significant loans and others feel that they would have nothing else they could do if they didn't pursue a career in medicine.

I always ask people to consider the following:

1. Financial stability: If you quit now, do you have a financial plan that will get you through the next 3, 6, 9, and 12 months? For most, it's resorting to family resources. For others, it's living off of a spouse's income or tapping into savings. Have you examined your budget?

2. Maybe you're in the wrong residency: Have you considered a different residency program or a different specialty? If you're currently dissatisfied or disgruntled, maybe you'll be happy at a different program. No 2 programs are alike. Maybe you're just in the wrong program, around the wrong people, in the wrong place in the country, in the wrong type of hospital...

3. Predicting the future: Will you regret the fact that you never completed your residency? Even if you never plan to practice clinical medicine, there are career benefits associated with being board-certified and by having an active medical license. Do you know what they are?

Of course, there are about 20 other questions you'll need to ask before you seriously think about quitting. Questions like: How will this impact my colleagues? What type of letter will my program director write? How will my family respond?

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