Episode #14: Things to Do Before Leaving Medicine


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Fix it up before you give it up. Leaving medicine is a big deal, but burnout can have you looking for the nearest exit sign. In order to have no regrets, it’s helpful to do everything you can to make things better before leaving. In this podcast, interventional radiologist Dr. Robert Kanterman talks about the 5 things he did over a number of years to improve his situation before deciding to transition. Find out how ice cream figured in.

In this episode we’re talking about:

  • The value of “fixing it up before you give it up”
  • 5 thing to do before leaving medicine
  • Dr. Robert Kanterman’s transition story
  • Out-of-the-box options like having an ice-cream parlor
  • How doing less and saying “No” can be a good thing

Links for this episode:

Download the Physician Transition Starter Kit Here
A “must have” when you’re questioning your career path. This 25-page guide answers many of your questions about career transition, nonclinical options, and how to just get started.

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Heather Fork


  1. Jennifer on January 28, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    Great podcast episode! I really appreciate how open and honest Dr. Kanterman was in sharing his experience, and I wish him all the best on his next endeavor. I especially appreciated his advice at the end about being open to exploring careers outside of medicine entirely. I think it’d be great if you featured a guest who decided to pursue something totally outside of medicine. Again, thanks for this podcast – it helps me feel a little less alone in my conflicted feelings about my career in medicine.

    • Heather Fork on January 29, 2021 at 1:23 am

      Jennifer! Thank you for your lovely comments. I am very appreciative of Dr. Kanterman as well, for honestly sharing his story. I love his sense of humor and willingness to try out ideas and see where they take him. I definitely will have some guests on have done things totally outside medicine. Is there an area in particular that you’d be interested in hearing about? I could do some reconnaissance. Thank you for being a loyal listener.

      • Jennifer on January 29, 2021 at 11:00 pm

        Thanks for your reply, Heather! I am interested in hearing about anything outside of medicine, but am especially interested in hearing about something more creative/artistic or something that directly helps others (i.e. counseling, non-profit work). I’m trying to keep an open mind, so I’m open to anything!

        • Heather Fork on February 28, 2021 at 4:30 pm

          Hi Jennifer, you are most welcome! Thank you for this additional information about the kind of podcast episodes you’d be interested in hearing. At the end of March, I will be interviewing a family practice physician who went into coaching. She does this for medical students and residents as well as those who work in the corporate world. I’ll keep your interests in mind and I’m sure we will have more out-of-the-box transition stories for you over time. Many thanks for being a listener and sharing your comments.

  2. Thomas on January 29, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    What an intelligent and interesting conversation! Dr. Kanterman’s candid description of how he made changes to his career path are surely helpful to others. The interviewed flowed easily, was organized, and even offered moments of humor.

    • Heather Fork on January 29, 2021 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks so much Thomas for sharing your kudos for Dr. Kanterman’s interview on the podcast. I was really glad he wanted to share his journey as a lot of physicians feel like they’re going too slow in figuring out what’s next. It took us a long time to become physicians and it makes sense to take some to work with your current situation and explore options if you’re not 100% crystal clear. Robert’s story is a good reminder us to find the fun and humor along the way.

  3. Ali on February 4, 2021 at 1:17 am

    This was a really well spent 30min. I walked away with actionable, manageable steps I can take as I contemplate next steps that will help me with whatever next move I take in my career. It was helpful to hear parts of the journey of 2 people who have navigated career changes in both Heather and the guest. And, there were some powerful reframing lessons in the guest’s story, namely the need to recognize that the hospital and practice won’t love you back.

    Thanks for this form of guidance and support

    • Heather Fork on February 4, 2021 at 2:03 am

      Ali! You are so incredibly welcome! This is just the kind of feedback we were hoping for. Robert and I wanted to be able to provide concrete advice and actionable steps through the telling of his transition story. I am thankful to him for trying all these things and coming on the podcast to share his pearls and wisdom. I’m so glad you found the episode helpful. Thank you for listening and your great comments.

  4. David MH Lambert on February 5, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    Interesting. I’m wondering whether there is a common thread in the “stressors” which prompt clinicians to want a change and whether or not these same stressors existed prior to, say – the 90’s? I think what I’m driving at is that I’d be willing to bet that to a large degree a “loss of control” while maintaining the same level of responsibility would be identified as a top issue?

    • Heather Fork on February 5, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      David, you hit the nail on the head with your speculation. Yes, this combination of having 100% responsibility for patient outcomes with a significant loss of control over patient care is a huge factor in burnout and stress. It’s like putting a pilot in the cockpit but locking the control panel. How are you supposed to fly, and how do you keep yourself and the passengers safe? With the advent of the EMR in the 90’s and the successive buyout of practices by large corporations, there are many challenges that physicians face without a lot of options for practicing medicine on their own terms. Thank you for listening and taking the time to leave your thoughtful comments.

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"Heather’s approach was great! She would listen to me and helped me appreciate who I am."

I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

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The coaching I have had with you has been life changing."

You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

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“I was at a crossroads in my medical career. I asked myself, "Do I stay or do I go?" 

I met Heather at the SEAK conference. She and I revisited this question.  Did I want to quit being medicine completely? She helped me to identify my needs, wants, and my vision for my FUTURE, not just in medicine, but in life!!!

She was able to listen to my "ramblings" about becoming a stand-up comic, lounge singer and voice-over actor and translate them into action steps.  I chose to become a composite of all of these. Now I am a more confident, healthier, happier person. I credit this in its entirety to the tutelage I have received and continue to receive from Heather.  She cares. She listens. She was there for ME.  She will be there for YOU!

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“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

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OB/Gyn physician

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What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my passions...by doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth...

Today...my wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

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“Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart."

She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

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After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

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Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

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Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

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Emergency Medicine Physician

The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

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"Heather was my source of hope during a time when I felt stuck and confused. She gave me the permission and confidence to reach higher than I believed I could."

After graduating from residency and starting a family, I lost sight of why I became a physician. I struggled to convince myself to stay in a career that was clearly the wrong fit for me and my family. My anxiety about work was at an all-time high when I reached out to Heather. She provided something that my mentors, friends, and family could not – rather than just offering career advice, she changed the way I think about my life so that I could understand how my career would fit into it. I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on medicine and eventually found a job in academic medicine. I finally feel that excitement for medicine that I used to feel when I was in training. More importantly, I feel like I can be the role model to my young daughter who may one day also face similar challenges between career and family. Thank you, Heather, for all your kindness, support, and skillful coaching! The experience was life-changing!

- Yuri Shindo, MD

Internal Medicine Physician
Camille Gardner-Beasley

"As a Physician, your personal and even professional needs are often overlooked. I learned how to prioritize my career goals by working with Dr. Heather Fork."

She taught me how to put into practice what I knew in theory, that taking care of myself was a priority. I learned to give myself permission to make the career choices that would give me the work-life balance I desperately craved and needed. The process of confronting fears and insecurities was a bit scary, but well worth it in the end. I am now a happier version of myself with a non-clinical job that I truly enjoy!

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Family Medicine
Anna testimonial

"After 10 years in outpatient family medicine I felt stuck and knew I needed a change but I didn’t know where to begin. Thankfully I found Heather and she guided me every step of the way."

She helped me carefully assess my interests, strengths and passions while also providing me with constructive changes to implement in my job search and resume. With Heather’s help, I just landed a fully remote UM position and I am also exploring coaching as well. Now I feel like the possibilities are endless and I’m excited for this next chapter in the nonclinical world! Thank you Heather for changing my life for the better.

- Ana Jacobellis, DO


"I'm truly thankful to have had the opportunity to be coached by Heather, she is not only a resourceful mentor but a wise and supportive friend. I'm honored to recommend Heather to all my friends and colleagues."

I had been a practicing Internist for 20 years when I reached a point when I needed to make a serious change in my career path. While I enjoyed seeing patients, I was not satisfied with my life-work balance. My job was taking me away from my family and left me little time and energy to do other things that are important and meaningful to me. I came across Dr. Fork's podcast; The Doctor's Crossing Carpe Diem Podcast, it is such an informative and enjoyable podcast for any physician who wants to do more with their career and life in general. Then I had the pleasure to get career coaching from Heather, it was truly an amazing experience. Heather has broad knowledge of all the different career paths that are available for physicians, she is so insightful and very easy to talk to. She helped me clarify my goals, examine my own mindset and definition of success. Together we developed a clear plan and actionable steps to reach these goals. I eventually made a career transition to a remote non-clinical position that allows me to do meaningful work which aligns with my personal and professional goals and priorities.

- Abbey Awad, MD

Internal Medicine