The ‘perfect’ job: so many people spend a lifetime chasing it only to come up at retirement wondering where they went wrong. Even physicians are not immune to this sort of thing. Endlessly searching for that perfect physician job has become a hallmark of clinical medicine. Maybe the problem is how we define perfection.
Are you among those doctors looking for the perfect job? Do you believe that somewhere out there, in the medical mist and fog, is a position that would provide a lifetime of contentedness if you could just find it? If so, step back and ask yourself what the perfect job looks like.
General Assumptions of ‘Perfect’
The role of a locum tenens staffing agency affords us plenty of opportunity to work with doctors of all stripes. We have had countless conversations with clinicians hoping to find that perfect job among the many assignments they accept. We can tell you that doctors are no different from workers in most other industries in that they accept the general assumptions of what our culture considers the perfect job.
In our culture, the perfect job is one that:
- pays well and includes generous benefits;
- offers permanent job stability;
- includes plenty of career growth opportunities;
- allows a person to fully utilize all acquired knowledge and skills; and
- allows for a comfortable retirement.
None of these things is bad in and of itself. And, in fact, a doctor lucky enough to have a job that encapsulates all five is a couple of steps ahead of most other doctors. But if this is the only way to define the perfect physician job, there are a lot of positions that do not qualify. Being a family practice physician in a small agricultural town in the Midwest is but one example.
Maybe Perfect Is Completely Different
As we all run around in search of that perfect job, it might be time to consider that the reality of perfection might be something completely different. Maybe that perfect job has nothing to do with salary and benefits. Perhaps it is possible to accept some level of instability and the potential of a less comfortable retirement in order to land the perfect job.
Maybe, just maybe, the perfect physician job is one that allows a doctor to genuinely help patients lead a better life regardless of Medicare reimbursement rates. Perhaps it is about quality of care on a day-to-day basis rather than earning awards and accolades from peers. Maybe perfection means not fully retiring because there are too many people who need help.
Helping Patients Live Better Lives
The point of this post is not to say that doctors should accept permanent placement jobs or locum tenens assignments for purely altruistic reasons. That is not reality. Doctors work to earn a living just like anyone else. And yes, doctors deserve opportunities to pursue career growth and set themselves up for retirement. But all these material things should never get in the way of the purpose of medicine: to help sick people get better and healthy people to avoid sickness.
If a doctor will set aside the material benefits of medicine to look into the eyes of a patient, he or she may just discover that the real definition of the perfect job is right in front of him/her. He or she may discover that his/her job is already perfect. Indeed, any job can be perfect for as long as one has it. If one is willing to view his or her employment through the right perspective, he/she can enjoy working the perfect job every day of his/her career.