There is a certain amount of stress and anxiety that comes with considering the next level in your medical career.  There is pressure around making the right decision whether you are resident deciding upon fellowship or heading straight into medical practice, or you are an attending in practice anticipating your future endeavors.  The desire for the position takes precedence above all else and we may neglect to take enough time to really explore what is in our best interest.

There is a lot to consider when moving on in your career.  Your decision may include geographic location, hospital reputation and a sense of job security, desired income, and the opportunity for advancement in your new position.  While these factors are essential pieces to the career and life puzzle, medical professionals must factor themselves into the equation.  Taking the time to do a self-assessment can lead you toward making the best decision.   It may make the difference between career dissatisfaction that contributes to burnout versus a life and career that is in alignment with your future goals and aspirations.

What should a medical professional consider when taking the next step in your career?

Know Yourself. This is a perfect time to get to know yourself.  The person you are right now has definitely grown from the person you were when you first made the decision to pursue a career in medicine.  You have been shaped by your patient encounters, your colleagues, your preceptors, and your mentors.  You may have started this journey as a single person and are now learning how to balance the demands of medicine with the responsibility of a family.

  • Who are you now?
  • What are your top priorities?
  • What are you passionate about in medicine and in life?
  • What is the impact that you desire to make?
  • How does this next opportunity afford you the experiences to live your dreams?

Reflect on your growth. Your experiences in medicine are constantly shaping and developing you as a clinician and a person.  You have learned about the nuisances of medicine through experiences that left you feeling inspired and motivated.  There are also lessons to learn from those moments of feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and frustrated.  In many ways those moments may turn out to be the best teachers.

  • What strategies do you employ when dealing with difficult situations?
  • How do you support yourself during a long shift?
  • How have you learned to cope with high acuity patients or sharing a poor prognosis with a patient and their family?
  • What support systems will you need in order to be successful as you move forward?

Be courageous enough to acknowledge your weaknesses. Feedback has gotten a bad reputation.  We often perceive it as a failure when it can be an opportunity to make course corrections for a better outcome in the future.

  • What has been the greatest challenge in your medical career and your life?
  • How did you navigate the challenge for the best outcome for everyone involved?
  • What type of environment do you flourish in?
  • How can you shift your perspective in the future for a different result?

Answering these questions provides doctors the opportunity to know yourself even better than before.  These new insights allow you to celebrate your strengths, identify the gifts and talents you bring to the new position, and begin the process of exploring whether the opportunity ahead of you is right for you.


About Dr. Stephanie Wellington

Dr. Stephanie Wellington is a practicing physician, coach, and CEO of Nurturing MDs, a life and career coaching company equipping women in medicine to unapologetically own their value, recognize their strength, balance their life. Learn more and get started by visiting to download your free guide to “7 Deadly Mistakes That Women In Medicine Make That Keeps Them Burned Out, Unbalanced, and Unfulfilled In Their Careers And The 1 Thing To Do Now To Change It.”