Can doctors lose their jobs? How to protect yourself from getting fired

We went into the medical profession to heal others. One of the perks of spending a decade of your life training to become a doctor is that you are likely to have job stability. With aging baby boomers and simply an insufficient number of medical graduates, we are projected to have a huge physician shortage over the next 10 years. If that’s the case, then doctors will always be in demand, right?

Not necessarily so.

Can doctors get fired?

Absolutely. Aside from misconduct, doctors can definitely lose their jobs for the same reasons why any white-collar worker can lose his. Hospitalists are a common example. They are typically employed by a hospital or through a medical group contracted by a hospital. If the hospital decides to contract out their Hospitalists or terminate an existing contract, then doctors may be out of work. Hospital employed specialists can lose their jobs in a similar manner if a hospital decides to eliminate coverage of a particular field.

Take necessary steps to prevent your obsolescence

Fortunately, you still have control over your future. You can take proactive measures to both ensure that you are indispensable for your organization and prepare yourself in the unlikely event that you do find yourself kicked to the curb.

  1. Remember that everyone else is dispensable except for yourself. Suppose that your department is financially unstable. If the budget does not become neutral by the end of the year, the losses will come out of your salary. That is unacceptable. As the physician, you are the revenue generator. Find out where your funds are going towards and don’t be afraid to fire staff if you have to.
  2. Make your hospital/practice need you. This boils down to knowing your value. What experience and skills do you offer to your organization? Is it your profound medical expertise or your leadership skills? If your organization no longer had you, would they crumble? Find out what your strengths that you bring to the table and make it known.
  3. Make time to enrich your skill set. Read. Blog. Learn about your field. Learn about your organization, and figure out what you bring to the table.
  4. Network. This includes physicians outside and within your organization. You have to be known, and understand what you can offer to others outside of your group.
  5. Maintain contact with headhunters. You don’t have to actively solicit these recruiters if you have a relatively stable job, but definitely keep the doors open. You never know what options might present themselves and when you might need their assistance. Maintain contact with your colleagues in academia, and keep your skills sharp. Sign up for the mailing list for your society’s career bulletin.

Be mentally prepared if you are released.

If you are let go despite your best efforts, then you should already have your escape plan in development. You’ve engaged with your medical community, shown them your skills, and also kept in touch with other viable medical groups in your field where you could potential jump ship to. Job loss and job changes are psychologically taxing. If you have taken adequate precautions, any changes will be more palatable.

What lessons have you learned about job changes in medicine?

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