These Are The Top 3 Fears Keeping Doctors Stuck In A Job They Hate

2 months ago   •   2 min read

By Ernesto Gutierrez, MD
Photo by Kristina Tripkovic / Unsplash
Table of contents

For the first time in history, there are more employed physicians than independent ones.

And physicians are not exactly thrilled about it. In fact, the numbers of physicians suffering from burnout, depression, anxiety, and overall unhappiness should worry us all. We're losing physicians at an alarming rate while medical school enrollments are declining.

At this rate, my kids won't have access to a physician by the time they're my age.

So why are doctors putting up with it?

Ask any employed doctor why they put up with their job and they'll say: "well… it's not that simple." But in reality, it is simple.

And here it is: doctors put up with these terrible jobs because they're afraid.

After 6 years of coaching doctors, here are the top 3 fears keeping them stuck at a job they hate:

1. You're afraid you won't make as much money on your own.

If you've been an employee for your entire career, the idea of having to come up with enough patients to replace a $150k + salary is daunting.

In fact, it's the number one reason why doctors remain at their jobs. Even when these jobs are toxic, hurtful and downright abusive.

Luckily, the solution is quite simple.

All you need to do is go out and sell something. It doesn't have to be big. And it doesn't have to be expensive either. But just grabbing something you have, and exchanging it to someone else for money is liberating.

The moment you realize you don't need a middle man to sell your knowledge, your expertise, your skills or your service to someone, having a job becomes optional.

2. You're afraid what your peers might think.

When I was in med school, one of my professors said: "the worst enemy of a physician, is another physician."

At first it didn't make sense to me. Why would other physicians attack their own? And then I began noticing it. Whenever a doctor stood out, the rest were quick to criticize them.

"She's a sellout." "He's all about the money." "They're peddling snake oils."

If you're a doctor, you've said at least one these things about a colleague at one point or another.

No wonder you're conditioned to fear standing out or doing things differently.

This keeps you "in line" with your peers. Accepting the status quo and putting up with all the crap that comes your way. Chalking it off to "the system" instead of doing something about it.

But here's the secret: none of your peers cares about you or what you do. They're too busy worrying about what you think of them

3. You're afraid of things not working out.

"What if I leave my job to start my own thing and it doesn't work out?"

What a terrible question to ask yourself! What I like to do is help my clients open up to possibility. Here are a few questions I like to ask them instead:

  • What if it worked out better –and faster!– than you expected? What would that look like?
  • How would you know it's working out or not?
  • What would your life look like in 10 years if you didn't make the leap now?
  • Imagine it's 5 years in the future and things have worked out great, what would you 5 years from now tell your present you?
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Did this strike a nerve? I hope it did! When you're ready to step out of fear and into possibility, I'm here for you. Slide in my DM's on Twitter or LinkedIn and let's chat.

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