Fear vs Trust in Leaving Medicine


If you’re considering leaving medicine, you may be wondering if there’s right way to leave?

Should I line up a job before quitting, or can I just get leave?

Is it OK to take some time off or do I need to get that job NOW?

Is it selling out to take a job I don’t love?

It’s a big deal to be at the career crossroads. You’re making some major decisions and you want to get it right. But dang, your crystal ball is in the shop, again, just when you need it.

When are they coming out with a rubberized version?

Don’t worry, crystal ball notwithstanding, today I’m going to share with you a powerful approach to making the right decisions in your career and life in general.  

Finding a new job, not to mention a new career, is inherently stressful, even in the best of circumstances.

Job hunting often brings up worries about not having transferable skills, concerns about loss of income, and the valid question,

Will I be happy in a different job?

If you’ve been let go, there can also be feelings of shame and low self-esteem.

If you’re exhausted and working so hard you don’t have time to job search, you may feel trapped.

There are a lot of emotions at play in a career change, or any big change for that matter.

When we have a challenge to address, whether we consciously realize it or not, we’re coming from a place of fear or trust.
We are somewhere “along the spectrum” of:

Fear-Based Thinking  <——————–> Trust-Based Thinking

Decisions made from fear-based thinking take us away from our true self and limit our potential.

Decisions made from trust-based thinking connect us with our true self and align us with the path of our highest potential. 

Below is a table differentiating fear-based thinking versus trust-based thinking for two different scenarios: looking for a job and taking time off.

How do you know if you’re making a decision from fear-based or trust based thinking?

Trust-based decisions give you a sense of peace and aliveness, even in challenging situations, as they open the door to possibility and potential.

Fear-based decisions give you a sense false security and an underlying feeling of selling yourself short.

Since you know by now, I love simple drawings as a way to capture two different states, I have a sketch to share with you. This one was done by Dr. Jenny. She is currently excited to be exploring a new potential career direction.

Cartoon drawing of stick figure on left side feeling afraid and doubtful. Stick figure on right side happy and confident.

On side A is her fear-based self. When she’s anxious, she gets the hives and feels prickly like her hair is standing on end. She doubts she can truly find a job where she uses her creativity, writing abilities, clinical expertise, and marketing talents and be paid well for her work.

On side B she is successfully juggling the balls in the air. She is super happy and energized because she is able to use her creativity and skills in her work. Her work is meaningful and valued, making the rest of her life great and glittery (as indicated by the stars around her well-organized and fashionable bag).

It’s helpful to draw a picture because so you can externalize these two different states in yourself.

If you make decisions from side A, this energy is very contracted and tends to keep you “playing small” in your life. When we are in this mode, we focus on the problems.

If you make decisions from side B, this energy is very expansive and takes you in the direction of your highest self and true potential. When we are in this mode we focus on the possibilities.

The right direction is the direction is the direction of trust in self.

Fear traps, trust transforms.

What fear are you facing that trusting in yourself could transform?

I made up a simple 10-minute exercise you can do to for any issue or challenge your facing to separate out your fear-based thinking and trust based-thinking.

At the end of the exercise, I have a recording of myself doing the exercise for each perspective.

You may have seen this exercise before, But the recordings are a new addition. Click here for the exercise and audio.

I’d love to hear how the exercise works for you and see any drawings you’d like to send me!

I’ll be back soon!


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Tim O

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!

- Tim Owolabi, MD

Family Medicine
Lynette Charity

“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!

- Lynette Charity, MD

Gail Miller

“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!

- Gail Miller, MD

OB/Gyn physician

“Thank you, Heather, for helping me transform my career, my faith and my life."

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.

- Steve Lapke, MD

Papillion, NE
Sue Zimmermann

“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.

- Devki Patel, MD

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!

- Jay MacGregor, MD

Colorectal Surgeon

“I gained the confidence in myself to develop an action plan that blended the best parts of my experiences and interests into a cohesive career." 

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.

- Amie Langbein, DO

Family Physician
Untitled design

"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. 

- Karen Barnard, MBBCh, MPH

Endocrinologist and Life Coach

"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!

- Modupe Oladeinde, MD

Family Medicine