A New Opportunity (a.k.a. Difficult Decisions, the Pursuit of Happiness and the Opportunity of a Lifetime)

Today was the last day of my job.

It was a position I held for over eight years, and for much of that time, I thought it would be a forever job, one where I would start and end my specialty medical career.

The reasons behind the decision are complicated and too personal to share in their entirety, but initially I faced this change with deep sadness. I still partially feel this way.

To focus on the (amazing, wonderful) positive: I am about to embark on a very exciting new chapter.

A colleague and friend who I respect and love asked me to partner with her in joining an established private practice in a nearby city.

This is a Once in a Lifetime opportunity, and in the end, it is also one I could not pass up.

I want to be able to craft a medical practice that represents me in every aspect, from the little things like the magazines in the lobby (artsy, diverse), to the art on the walls (hip, real), to offering patients a beverage while they wait (sparkling water, anyone?), to the big things like making every patient feel understood and cared for during the good times and the bad. Another pro: I can dress more creatively without the restrictive wardrobe rules of my old job (all suits, all the time).

The most important factor: I can authentically be myself, always.

I’m excited to begin.

On the flip side, people may wonder why I’m leaving a position I loved. That’s harder to justify.

For most of the time I was in my former job, I truly, deeply loved it. I lived and breathed the work and gave my all to the institution. I was so proud to be a physician there.

A few weeks ago I was interviewed for a public radio news show about fertility treatment. The other guest was Belle Boggs, who wrote “The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood,” an eloquent memoir about being a fertility patient. The conversation was stimulating and one of the best I’ve had in a long time. At the conclusion of the hour, the show’s host told me that throughout the program, the phone lines had been jammed with current and former patients of mine who were calling to say what an excellent doctor I was.

My voice cracked when I thanked her for telling me. 

It’s almost impossible to leave that behind, even though I’m sure there will be new stories and new patients.

(Sidenote: I hesitated to include that anecdote in this post, because if read the wrong way it sounds really boastful and ugly. I don’t mean it to; it was a very surprising moment to me and one where instead of feeling swollen with pride, I actually felt quite stunned and humbled. In the end I decided to keep it because it illustrates the bittersweetness of my current situation).

In all parts of my life, I’ve pledged to be authentically myself, and it would be inauthentic at this time not to mention that the reason I was receptive to the opportunity to join a private practice with my friend involved turmoil within my own department. After a few years of this, my immediate colleagues and I were very unhappy. Despite passionate discussions and attempts at change, it became apparent that the status quo would be upheld.

I felt like I could continue to be unhappy in my current iteration or try to live authentically and forge a new path. I chose the latter.

While I still have framed some of this story with sadness, the overwhelming sentiments I feel are Happiness and Excitement for the future.

I now see this opportunity for what it is: a gift.

To the clinical and nursing staff I’ve worked with, patients I’ve been honored to care for and my physician friends, please know I love you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life and be able to practice a medical specialty that I deeply love. It is a privilege.

 

 

 

 

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