Dating advice for your career – my brother's story


When my little brother Dave does something, I pay attention.

Not just to what he does, but HOW he does it.

I remember watching him use two garbage cans and a pole to learn how to ride a unicycle.

I remember watching him learn how to build bicycles by taking them apart and putting them back together.

Last month I spoke at his wedding and revealed to the guests how my dear brother, a physicist and engineer, found the love of his life.

Today I’m sharing Dave’s approach to finding love because there are great parallels to finding a job/career that you love.

Step One – Get clear on what you want

Before he started dating, Dave made a list of what was important to him in a relationship and a partner. He’d been married once before, so he had some perspective.

He also wrote an online profile where he described the woman he was looking for – not her appearance, but her qualities and values. He included a funny and true description of himself and what he offered as a partner. (He shared the profile with me the other day and it gave me goosebumps. He had perfectly described the two of them!)

Before applying to jobs or considering different career directions, write down everything you can think of that you want and prioritize the list. Think about what’s working and not working in your current job and any past jobs, to inform your list.

Write out a vision of what you want this job to be like. The more specific you can be with details, even down to the emotions you want to feel on the job, the better. You don’t have to know exactly what kind of work you’ll be doing to do this exercise.

Make sure to include what you bring to the table and have to offer. This is your value proposition and helps you know your worth – so you don’t settle.

Step Two – Do some research

Dave told me about how he did a lot of reading about the science behind human attraction and chemistry. He got into the biological underpinnings of mate selection… There was talk about pheromones and sweaty T-shirts and way more than I can remember. I had to remind myself, my brother makes his living doing research and he likes being well-prepared.

When it comes to a different job or career direction, research often involves networking. Finding people who work in a specific job or career sector you’re interested in is a great way to learn if it would be a good fit for you. Physician FaceBook Groups, LinkedIn, conferences, blogs, podcasts, and good old Google are great resources.

Step Three – Get out there and date/interview

Dave said that when he started dating, he made the commitment to go on two dates a week until he found “The One.” He said, “I knew I’d have to kiss a lot of frogs, but I was up for it.”

He also revealed that he had a…….. Can you guess??  A spreadsheet! We were talking on the phone when he told me this, and I could tell he was searching his computer for it. I was soooooo curious what was on it. But no luck. It was gone. It had served its purpose to keep track of his dates.

I suggest to my clients to create a spreadsheet when they’re interviewing for jobs. On the spreadsheet are all the things they’re looking for in a job. After the interviews, they rate each company on the criteria they selected, as well as their current company.

When interviewing for a job, don’t forget they’re not the only ones doing the interviewing. You‘re interviewing them as well.

You’re trying to find out if they are a good match for you.

The information on your spreadsheet can help you be strategic in asking questions that will help you figure out if they are the one for you.

Step Four – Evaluate your true feelings

Dave’s first date with Lynne sounded so romantic. They met at a French restaurant near a train stop on the Caltrain line. Like out of a movie, she is this gorgeous, effervescent, redheaded gal with beautiful green eyes. At dinner, they hold hands across the table. She’s a doctor. Smart, fun, funny. 

He said he just knew there was something special about Lynne.

And… he also had the benefit of getting to go on more dates.

Unfortunately, after the interviews are over, we don’t get to “go on more dates.” If we get a job offer, we have to make a decision.

When you’re on the fence about a job and it’s not an obvious YES, go back to your spreadsheet.

If being passionate about your work is at or near the top, you do want to be feeling really excited about the work you’re going to be doing.

If having flexibility and benefits are at or near the top of the list, you don’t have to be head over heels in love with the job. It first and foremost needs to have the structure and compensation package that works for you. On the spreadsheet, see how your current job compares with the new opportunity.

Do you deserve to love your job?
Another factor can be less obvious, but still at play. It’s believing you deserve what you want and it’s OK to want it.

I hear physicians say sometimes, “But who likes their job anyway? Isn’t that why they call it work?” Or, “I feel like I’m just whining about my job. Other people are working even harder than me.”

To find that special love, you have to believe it’s possible. (My brother initially said he wasn’t getting married again.)

To find that job you love, you have to believe it’s possible.

And know you deserve it.

And trust me, you do! Give yourself the time and resources to take whatever steps you need to enjoy your work and life. Life’s too short to be kissing too many frogs, or feeling like one. 


On July 10th I’m featuring our brand new member of the Physician Career Transition Posse!!  

A special thank you to my brother Dave for sharing his story of finding Lynne and for being such an inspiration to me in so many ways.  


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  1. Lynette Charity MD on June 19, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Wow Dr Heather! What a great story and more importantly what great insight into the “dating” your career. As a physician, an Anesthesiologist, now working part-time because I can, I used some of your brother’s techniques and am very content with my decisions. They say “money can’t buy you love” and honestly it won’t make a job you hate more palatable if you dread going everyday! Yes, you can trudge through that job just for the paycheck, but at what cost to your well-being? It’s like a really bad marriage that you choose to stay in. Ask yourself “Why?” So to all who read this blog, start your spreadsheets, do the homework, and find your “Mr/Mrs Right”. Make your medical career, clinical or non-clinical, the love of your life again.

    • Heather Fork on June 19, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      Very well said Dr. Lynette! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I totally agree with you that a bad job can be like a bad marriage (or relationship) and you have to decide if “counseling’ can help it or if you do need a separation or divorce from your job. I’m glad you found your way to a good place and are happy with your decisions. Regret is a tough emotion to deal with and we can’t change what has happened.

  2. Lynette D Charity MD on June 19, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    So true. So true.

  3. Gail Miller on June 19, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    Love this post! It’s so true that there are similarities to finding love and finding the right job – great analogy.

  4. Heather Fork on June 19, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Thank you bunches Dr. Gail Miller!! It’s fun to talk about love and dating too. We spend (usually) way, way more time preparing for the work we are going to do in our lifetime as compared to preparing for the right partner… AND we spend more time AT work than we do with our partners, it makes sense we would want to find work we love as much as a partner to love. I appreciate your reading and commenting. Makes my day.

  5. Yasmine S Ali, MD on June 20, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    I love this! Especially the part about realizing that we do deserve to love what we do! As the old saying goes, if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. I continue to believe that is possible, but as doctors, especially in today’s world, we often need to remind ourselves of that. We deserve to find—and do—what makes us happy. And on that note, I’ll be going back to writing my novel now! Thank you, Heather!

    • Heather Fork on June 20, 2019 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you kindly Yasmine! I love the quote you cited… so true. When you love the work you do, there are no more Mondays. Just Fundays. I’m glad you are a believer. The more people that hold this belief and live it, the more others are inspired to find that work-love too! So excited you are writing a novel. Let us know when it is hot off the press!!

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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 doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth... 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.

- Sue Zimmermann, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon
Devki Patel

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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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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Colorectal Surgeon

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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!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

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.

Don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself, schedule your time with Heather as soon as possible- she can help you reconnect to your purpose and reinvent your life.

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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! 

The outcome is that I have created a life I love! I practice endocrinology part-time and own a life coaching business! Coaching with Heather is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

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Endocrinologist and Life Coach

"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!

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Internal Medicine Physician
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"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. 

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Internal Medicine

"There have been a handful of people who have come into my life and changed it, and Heather is one of those people."

From the very first interaction with Heather, it became abundantly clear that she possessed a systematic approach and a methodology firmly rooted in my focusing on my goals and aspirations. Heather's coaching sessions helped me dismantle limiting beliefs and unearth the capable woman, mother, and physician within me. Under Heather's guidance, I began to dream again. I rediscovered my passion for writing, found the courage to share my stories, and even launched my own coaching practice. Today, I specialize in helping others conquer imposter syndrome and overcome burnout, empowering them to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. Working with Heather fundamentally shifted my perspective and allowed me to show up authentically in every facet of my life, resulting in a profound sense of fulfillment.

I am deeply grateful that I can continue my work in the emergency department and serve my community as a physician as well as a coach. Working with Heather was a transformative gift that enabled me to rediscover my true self, find clarity in my life's purpose, and unlock my full potential. Through her guidance, I not only reignited the powerful, confident, and bold version of myself I had lost sight of but also realized the boundless possibilities that lay ahead.

- Maria Dominguez 

Emergency physician and coach