Look For Clues in What You Already Do


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I often ask my clients, “What do you enjoy doing that no one pays you for – but could?” I ask this because it can be a good clue to a potential career direction or focus. If I had only pondered this simple question 12 years ago, I would have figured out my second career a whole lot sooner.

When I was still in my dermatology practice, I was doing, or more accurately, attempting coaching before I even knew what it was. My office staff was a captive audience. Many of our meetings were spent listening to motivational CDs, role playing, and taking various personality tests. We would act out different scenarios, such as dealing with the angry or late patient, calling about over-due bills, and other challenging encounters. We would observe how our personality type affected our approach. I think I liked the role-playing much more than they did. I can still see the reluctant faces – please no – not that again! But they were good sports and humored me.

I would attend workshops on all sorts of personal development techniques. And then of course, I wanted to try them out. My aesthetician was kind enough to be a guinea pig for a 40-day personal transformation program I had just learned. We would meet during lunch once a week and talk, and go over the assignments she was doing. That was in 2003. I ran into her this week, and we had a good laugh about those days. She said she had actually just been thinking about the program we did. She was gracious enough to say it helped her think about things in a new way and that she loved the meetings we had. So had I.

There were other “practice clients” as well, such as a friend of mine who is a family physician, she also did the 40-day program. If someone had said to me back then, “You’re going to have a career coaching other doctors, I might have thought, “And what are you smoking?”

The crazy thing is, as much as I enjoyed doing all of these things, I never thought about becoming a coach. I was just doing something I loved. I recall several conversations over the next few years in which someone was talking about coaching as a career. I was peripheral to the discussion. OK. I was eavesdropping. I couldn’t help it. I was drawn in like a magnet. I had so many questions I wanted to ask. My brain was electrified with excitement. But I still didn’t consider this direction for myself. I can’t recall my thinking at the time. Maybe I thought I couldn’t make a living at it; that coaching was my hobby. Perhaps it seemed too far-fetched and not something doctors did. I was not ready to consider it for myself.

It wasn’t until a number of years later, after I sold my practice, that I had the “Eureka!” moment. I was taking something called, The Passion Test. It is designed to help you determine what you want your ideal life to look like. I’ll never forget that moment. I was sitting on my back porch working through the test, writing my answers out on recycled scraps of paper. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, this kind of stuff is soooooo much fun, I just love it!” I was about halfway through the test when it hit me like a lightening bolt. I threw the test up in the air and said, “This is it! I want to help other people live their ideal life! I want to help them find their passion!” I never finished the test. I didn’t have to. It had served its purpose.

Now, what about you? What is it you enjoy doing that no ones pays you for – but could?

Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like a potential career. The point is to look at skills you love using, and what this says about you. I have people tell me they’ve been writing stories since they were 6 years old, or that they keep folders on interior design ideas, or that they love planning and catering events. Clients send me amazing photographs they’ve taken, incredible artwork, and poems. Others are giving impromptu talks in the doctor’s lounge on financial planning. One client is working on inventing a medical device. Another loves doing real estate deals.

Even if you’re not looking for a new career direction or focus, there is great value in noticing and honoring your interests and talents. Give yourself the time to feed your soul. You will find joy. You will find renewal. And maybe even your Eureka! moment.

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  1. Sabrina Clough on June 10, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Hey, girl! I am finally on my way to Louisiana! I feel so much lighter.

    I love this article and will be pondering that question during the time I’m getting settled in.

    Please email me your address where you want the $300 resume writing fee sent.
    Thanksi a bunch for fronting me the money; you were so perceptive and kind in the offer.

    I will look forward to seeing you in the near future!


  2. Gloria on June 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I have been interested in changing career for several years and do not know where to start. There are things that I like to do, but I do not know where to start.

    • Heather Fork on June 15, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      Hello Gloria,
      There are some different resources you can look into regarding your interest in career change. In the resources section of my website, there are several books that you can read. SEAK has a Non-Clinical Career Conference this October in Chicago. Dr. Kim has a site and blog at nonclinicalcareers.com. Various coaches offer career coaching for physicians. This path is very non-linear as compared with the one to become a doctor, so it can be rather confusing at first, but if you take a structured to approach and have people help you, it is possible to make changes.

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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!

- Modupe Oladeinde, MD

Family Medicine
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
KB Karen Barnard Photo

"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 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!

- Camille Gardner-Beasley, MD

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