We first heard from Dr. Gigi back in March when she was preparing to leave her job without a Plan B. As a courageous member of The Doctor’s Crossing first Career Transition Posse, she is sharing her career change with us in real time as it unfolds. Today’s blog features a recent interview with her, as well as some photos she’s taken on her journey (except for this first photo). If you missed the blog introducing Dr. Gigi, you can read it here. Her update is a compelling example of how one doesn’t have to know where one is going to start moving forward.
Q: Back in March, you were considering retraining in a different specialty, as well as contemplating some non-clinical options. Has anything changed?
Dr. Gigi: I’m still considering informatics, medical writing, and utilization management. I’m also exploring the option of becoming a wound care physician.
Q: Which ones seem most compelling at this time and why?
Dr. Gigi: Currently, health informatics, with a focus on data analytics and/or public health, seems to be one of the more compelling options. My ideal job would involve complex problem-solving for the benefit of others and society. I feel the field of health informatics could provide that. Medical writing, specifically editing and quality control, also seems interesting. I’m detailed oriented. I like working independently, and I love researching a topic. I feel I have done similar work before for free, and I found it interesting. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had dedicated time for it.
I also recently started exploring the field of wound care. I had considered this in the past, but I was under the impression that I would need a different initial specialty (different from Ob/Gyn) to get into this field. This does not appear to be the case. I like working with my hands, doing procedures, and helping others with specific and concrete problems. This field might be a good fit.
Q: Which ones, if any, have fallen out of favor?
Dr. Gigi: Retraining in a completely different specialty has fallen out of favor, at least at this time. I feel a lot of my frustrations with my current specialty would still be present in any other specialty I would consider.
Q: How have you been researching options?
Dr. Gigi: I’m in the process of taking an online introductory course on healthcare data analytics. I’ve also been researching online about the field, different options for training, and various job opportunities. In addition, I’m learning about medical writing and editing and considering taking a low-cost online course. I’m also researching the field of wound care.
Q: Have you been doing any networking?
Dr. Gigi: I have done some networking, online only. I’m a member of a Facebook group for physicians looking for non-clinical careers, and I have communicated with some of its members about different positions. I applied to a few utilization management jobs several months ago, and I was able to speak with their recruiter after being referred by another member of the Facebook group. Those positions ended up not being a good fit, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn more about them- all thanks to networking!
Q: How is it to not be working?
Dr. Gigi: Weird! But time has gone by really fast- hard to believe it has been 3 months already.
Q: What have you been doing in your free time?
Dr. Gigi: Mostly traveling- I spent a month with family, and then I did a 3-week cross-country road trip by myself. I visited 6 National Parks in the process and saw some of my friends. I recently came back home and am now trying to decide on the next steps.
Q: What’s been the hardest part of these past few months for you?
Dr. Gigi: Not having a clear vision of what I want. Also, the feelings of guilt still resurface from time to time. I always felt that being a physician was a privilege. I had the privilege of becoming a physician, and I had the privilege of patients letting me treat them. And here I am, with the ability and the privilege to treat those in need, and it feels like I’m wasting that opportunity, like I’m ungrateful.
Q: What’s been the best part since leaving your job?
Dr. Gigi: Not being on call and being able to travel without it affecting others. Also, one of the best parts is not regretting the decision to leave my job. I think back to how I felt while working at my last job and how unhappy I was. Also, I have looked at other job descriptions in similar roles and they do not appeal to me at all- that is how I know I made the right decision.
Q: How is it dealing with the uncertainty of your situation?
Dr. Gigi: The uncertainty gives me some anxiety and stress. Even though financially speaking, I’ll be OK without working for a while, I still feel the need to work and to contribute to society somehow. I feel anxious about the thought of never finding something fulfilling, of not having a purpose. What if I miss the correct path because I’m not looking in the right direction?
But I also feel better than I felt while I was working at my last job- no regrets there.
Q: Anything in particular you’ve learned so far about yourself?
Dr: Gigi: I have learned to accept and embrace certain aspects of my personality that in the past I was either not aware of or tried to change. I’m an introvert and I never considered that aspect of my personality when thinking about my career or specific jobs. My past impression (based on society’s feedback) was that being introverted (and everything that comes with it) was a negative. I have become more aware of my personality type and now I’m making sure that my next job is compatible with it.
Q: Any advice for others who are in the transition process?
Dr: Gigi: Be honest with yourself and do not worry about what others might say. Be open-minded and take time learning about different career options. Learn about your personality type and take it into consideration when making decisions about your current or next career. I am inspired by this quote from Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Thank you so very much, Dr. Gigi, for sharing your journey with us as well as your lovely photographs. We are looking forward to seeing where the road less traveled takes you next.
I found this interview inspiring and reassuring. Gigi expresses thoughts common to many physicians in her situation. I really like that she has the courage to take her time to find a career that really suits her. She may get started and still need to pivot again later, but she is being intentional about this process, which I think will serve her well.
Thank you kindly John for reading and offering your supportive perspective on Dr. Gigi’s transition. I like how you point out that this is an intentional process. For some, leaving one job without having a clear plan of what’s next can appear foolish and seem to lack intention or purpose. But there is no one right way to transition. Each person should be allowed to figure out what their intentions are and what works best given their circumstances and goals. And yes, we can do some pivoting and repivoting, and even some zigging and zagging. Straight lines are fine, but life is so much richer when we add in some more geometry!
Gigi, thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. I admire your courage, and I too love the Steve Jobs quote that inspires you. And thank you Heather for sharing this conversation and all your wisdom, it always helps to know that we are not alone on our journeys of navigating our next steps.
Thank you for your most supportive comments Amie! You are so right about how helpful it is to know we are not alone on this journey. Your taking that step of making the time to post a comment in encouragement of a fellow physician is not trivial. We are all busy and there are many things pressing upon our time, but your action of taking a few minutes to cheer on a colleague is a big step towards showing how powerful we can be in helping each other.
Inspiring story from a physician taking her career by the reins! It’s helpful to see interviews like these with physicians who are in the process of pivoting their careers or haven’t yet landed on something permanent.
Thank you Look for Zebras for the encouraging words. And thank you for being a great resource to physicians who are trying to figure out what is the best direction for themselves. You are providing great content where there had been a big gap. Thank you!