So, you want to make a change? Perhaps the pandemic opened your eyes to the reality that your current work situation never quite fit. Maybe you reprioritized your needs and your current employment can’t evolve with you. You aren’t alone.
Now more than ever anesthesia professionals are reconsidering their full-time employment for part time, locums work, or simply leaving for a more aligned full-time position. As the need for anesthesia providers continues to increase due to a heightened surgical demand, the expansion of non-OR anesthesia (NORA) sites and an aging anesthesia workforce it’s possible for anesthesia providers to leverage their skills and find a job that aligns with their desired lifestyle.
If the pandemic taught us anything it is that nothing in this life is guaranteed. Finding employment that leaves space and time to explore and savor the other parts of what makes us human feels like a non-negotiable item these days. If you have been thinking about making a big change in your anesthesia career here are 3 things you must do before finding your dream job.
1. Save an F*U fund
Although this may not be your exact sentiment, it is perhaps your most important step. An accessible liquid savings of at least 90 days expenses will give you the financial cushion and security to
1. Responsibly try something new without fear of sinking into the red
2. Give yourself much needed downtime to ask hard questions about what comes next
3. Have the privilege of quitting if any job becomes detrimental to your mental or physical health.
With the lucrative locums market bending in our favor, realistically, you could work somewhere within 30 days if you absolutely had to bring in an income. Everyone’s F*U fund will be different. Do you have kids? A partner bringing in a supplemental income? Do you anticipate moving? Can you cut back expenses now to lower your cost of living?
I recommend start by speaking with your partner, a trusted friend and/or a finance professional to determine your exact F*U number. So go ahead and dream big, just start saving too.
When I realized I wanted to leave my full-time position after 9 good years, I began sacking away $1,000/mo into my F*U fund. I calculated my share of our family’s average monthly expenses, multiplied by 3, and got my target amount of $18,000. Therefore, I knew I had at least 18 months to create the financial cushion I needed to take a leap.
2. Name your top 2-3 priorities
While you’re busy stockpiling your F*U fund, take some time to reflect on what you specifically do not like about your current position. It may also be helpful to rank them in order of importance to you. Is it the call structure? The compensation? Is it the team culture or lack thereof?
Now, use this knowledge to craft your dream list of wants in a new job. The harsh reality is you will likely have to make some compromises, even for that dream job. But knowing your top 2-3 priorities will help you stay focused on what is too important to compromise.
Consider setting your priorities based on how you want your new job to make you feel and not on exact dollar amounts.
After doing this reflection myself, I was able to identify my top 2 priorities as
1.) A job that gave me enough time off to feel more patient and creative and
2.) A job that gave me a sense of security knowing that my family would be covered by employer paid health insurance.
3. Be patient.
Now, this one is the hardest, at least for me. Once you start saving your F*U fund and have your priorities in place you likely will want the change to happen right now! As you search for new opportunities many will seem to fit “well enough”.
Let’s be honest, our anesthesia field is a primo career to begin with, but I want you to ask yourself, “Will I be in a similar situation in a year because I compromised on one of my top priorities?”
This period of patiently waiting for the right job is very much still an active state. I recommend seeking out mentors who can help guide and support you, respond to all the job postings that interest you and generally “put the word out” that you are looking for “xyz”. Consider all your dead-end phone interviews and email correspondence to be practice as you get closer to matching with the right job.
As you search for that perfect fit don’t be afraid to tell your potential future employers exactly what you are looking for upfront. Keep your list of wants short with your top 2-3 priorities while being flexible in other areas. This mindset will ensure both you and your future employers feel like they are winning.
For me, this looked like a 3 day/week surgery center position with paid insurance, but I had to compromise on a 50 minute commute to make it happen.
Best of luck as you pursue your own dream job! We all deserve to feel good behind the drape.
Guest Author: Mary Jeanne CAA is the host of The Awakened Anesthetist podcast. She lives her life by design in Kansas City, MO with her husband and 3 young kids.