Look, your medical career is probably one of the most important relationships of your life. You’ve invested heavily in this relationship, and even though you likely started off your career with a burning love of medicine, long work hours and too much red tape can slowly turn that passion into burnout.
If so, you’re not alone. For nearly everyone, at some point, you’ll need to take steps to revitalize your career and restore your passion. This article reveals four ways to rediscover your love of medicine.
1. Go on a medical mission
Leave administrative cares behind and practice medicine at its most fundamental level.
Dr. Olabisi Jagun works hard to carve time out of her schedule to go on medical missions — as many as four a year for the past ten years. These missions allow her to provide fundamental medical care for populations who would otherwise have no access to healthcare.
“It’s an extremely rewarding experience. It’s my way of giving back. I was born in Nigeria and my education was supported through a scholarship from the Nigerian government. This gives me the opportunity to bring awareness to health issues in Nigeria and highlight the fact that a lot of people don’t have access to any kind of medical care at all,” explains Dr. Jagun.
While she pays her own way for most missions, her most recent medical mission to Kenya was sponsored by the Making a Difference Foundation. “The money I’m not spending on this mission I’m using on my next medical mission,” says Dr. Jagun.
Dr. Noel Lumpkin has also enjoyed the revitalizing benefits of medical missions. During her most recent mission in Madagascar, she was part of a team who helped a young woman with obstetrical fisula.
“She was only 14 and was terrified of surgery,” Dr. Lumpkin recalls. “Truthfully, very little good had happened to her up to that point in her life and here were strangers from a foreign land taking care of her.”
“We got through her surgery, and two days later she came running up to me and hugged me,” Dr. Lumpkin shares. “One of the nurses told me I was the first person she’s ever hugged. You can’t put a price on that.”
2. Work locum tenens in another country
Mix travel, adventure and a desire to learn new things when you work in international locations.
Dr. Mike Spertus, a general practitioner with a fellowship in integrative medicine, began his international career right out of residency. He chose to travel to Australia for his first locum tenens assignment, because it was both a personal dream to visit Australia and they were accepting of his desire to pursue training in integrative medicine.
“They have an openness to integrative medicine here. I’ve been practicing acupuncture and mental health, and receiving additional medical training in both areas,” says Dr. Spertus.
Dr. Spertus also discovered considerable differences in his daily schedule because of the country’s Medicare system.
“You never stay late doing notes and you spend your time caring for patients, rather than cutting through red tape. The system is much more streamlined than in the U.S.,” explains Dr. Spertus.
More free time, and four weeks of vacation a year, also means Dr. Spertus gets to enjoy Australia’s beautiful beaches and travel opportunities.
“The coastline is stunning, soft sand and there are vineyards right within the city. I even traveled to Bali twice, once for a yoga retreat,” says Dr. Spertus.
3. Work at a rural location/underserved area
Get out of the big city and back to the front lines in small town USA
If giving help where you’re most needed appeals to you, head to a small town hospital and find yourself back on the frontlines of healthcare in a way you don’t experience in a larger city.
Dr. Robert Dowdeswell often chooses locum tenens assignments in rural areas for this very reason.
“Most of the people I treat don’t have access to larger facilities, specialty clinics or research institutions, so I often manage more interesting or complex cases than I might see in larger cities,” explains Dr. Dowdeswell.
In addition, Dr. Dowdeswell likes the fact that assignments in less-populated areas give him the opportunity to really get to know the people. “The locals make sure I’m well looked after; they know their medical community and love having someone there to help out.”
Rural locations also often pay higher rates for locum tenens than their big city counterparts to attract quality physicians.
4. Try a change of scenery
Gain a fresh perspective by working in a different environment
It’s common to feel burned out when you’re doing the same thing every day. Whether you work in a private practice or a busy hospital, working someplace new can be energizing — and it’ll likely teach you new skills too.
Dr. Bradley Hassell, a psychiatrist who began working locums several years ago, appreciates the change of pace that it allows him. “It’s kind of a nice thing, that as soon as you get tired of a place, you get to leave. If you wanted to do inpatient work for a while, you could, and then if you wanted to shift gears and do outpatient work, you could,” he says.
That kind of variety in practice is something Dr. Steven Weissfeld, an orthopedic surgeon, also finds valuable. After years of working in private practice, he now works locums full-time and enjoys the opportunity to work with new people and learn different systems.
“Sometimes, in private practice, physicians get used to doing things the same way over and over, so acclimating to new colleagues and systems may be a challenge at first. But I find the exposure helps to keep things interesting. I also discovered some better ways of doing things,” he says.
Try one or all to rediscover your love of medicine
Whether it’s a medical mission or working locum tenens in a new environment, changing your work environment can help you rediscover your love of medicine and breathe new life into your career.
If you’re interested international locum tenens positions, visit Weatherby’s international partner company, Global Medical Staffing.