Doctors are not immune to questions of self-doubt as they progress through their careers. Take your typical family medicine clinician. Long days at the office spent working with families of all kinds can leave you drained and exhausted. Most of the time you are perfectly content with what you do. But there are those days you ask yourself whether or not you career is on the right track.
First of all, do not panic. You are not alone. People in every profession question their careers from time to time. It is part of being human. Second, it might be helpful during those times of doubt to step back and evaluate what you do. Whether you own a practice, work in a group or hospital setting, or even make a living at locum tenens, a little bit of self-evaluation goes a long way toward addressing doubt.
As you assess, keep in mind these three ways to know if you are on track:
1. You Love What You Do
It has been said many times that the best way to approach a career is to find what you love and then go and do it. If you are like most doctors, a genuine love for medicine is one of the things that motivated you to embark down this career path many years ago. So ask yourself, “am I still doing what I love to do?”
The importance of this question should not be underestimated. There are so many people who work simply to exist. They don’t love what they do; they just do it because that’s all they know. As for you, your career is likely on the right track if you still love practicing medicine.
2. You’re Doing It Your Way
A close second behind doing what you love to do is doing it your way. In other words, how is it that you practice family medicine? Maybe you have been part of the same group practice you started with out of residency. Perhaps you are locum tenens clinician hoping to land a permanent placement position through one of your assignments.
Regardless, is the way you practice medicine the way you really want to do it? If it is, there is a good chance you career is on track. If not, perhaps looking for a different opportunity more in line with your preferences is the way to go. You don’t have to continue doing what you’re doing. There are other opportunities out there.
3. You Strive to Be the Best
Last but not least is the attitude you take to your job. It’s funny, but people who find themselves off track have a tendency to fall into mediocrity if they don’t get back on track at some point. Step back and assess yourself and your attitude. Are you continuing to strive to be the best you can be? Are you at a point of mediocrity, just putting in the time so you can go home every day?
Striving to be the best is a good sign that your career is on track. You are looking to improve your practice, offer more capable care, generally improve the lives of your patients, etc. This is really all you can ask from a career in family medicine.
Don’t worry about those brief thoughts of self-doubt. We all experience them. If you find that they won’t go away, step back and assess your circumstances. If you’re doing what you love, you’re doing it your way, and you are striving to be the best you can be, you’re probably on the right track.