I previously wrote about compromising career options for family reasons. There are often scenarios where you do find your so-called “dream job” only to realize that it’s really not what you expect it to be. If you are looking to start your first job or simply to find greener pastures, buyer beware.
Private Practice Dream Jobs
For instance, the buzzwords in private practice include “high income potential”, “real estate opportunities”, “busy on day one”, and other phrases along the lines that suggest that the new physician will be wildly successful financially and have a great lifestyle. Can that be possible? Sure, but those opportunities may be more uncommon than you realize. As doctors, we are paid on productivity. We’ve discussed how doctors are paid, and how they can earn more money. An opportunity that has “high income potential” can mean a handful of things: (1) You will work your tail off seeing tons of patients a day or doing a ton of surgeries (2) You do that while building ancillary income opportunities through real estate or hospital contracts or (3) something that the practice is doing is either unethical or illegal. We all hope that we never end up in the third scenario, but these instances exist. You sometimes hear about docs who have homes abroad, private airplanes, and an 10-car garage. Some of them are even being investigated for insurance fraud. If a potential employer tells you that’s their lifestyle, beware. Most doctors under our healthcare system can become rich, but not likely real estate mogul rich. Grand riches in medicine always come with a catch.
University Based Dream Jobs
The appeal of working at a university include working with like-minded peers in your field in a cutting edge setting. You have the potential to run clinical or laboratory research to mold the way we practice medicine. You also have the opportunity to educate the future of medicine. Monetarily, you will still do fine, but you will likely have additional income through speaker or consulting fees. Beware, even the best university-based medical jobs will NOT be perfect. One lesson that I’ve learned is that you must love your career in order to succeed at the university, because you will likely be BUSY. While you may only have one to two days of clinical work, you will likely spend a lot of time working on lectures, presentations, teaching, and paper writing. This time can extend into your personal life at home. There were plenty of nights I spent during my training preparing abstract and paper submissions into the early morning hours and still received prompt e-mail responses from my attending mentors. If you wish to succeed in an academic environment, you will have to spend more time in your career than you would otherwise. This isn’t necessarily negative, but a dream job at a university is really one that allows you to focus your energy toward your career.
Your Dream Job May Be One That Affords Your Time Away From Work
Ironically, an ideal medical career for you may be one that allows you to have time off from the daily routine. I have seen job offerings in remote areas of the country (or the world) that allow up to 3 months of time off! For unmarried doctors with the travel bug or an interest in adventure, three months of time off would be a dream job. Even at a lower base pay, you can sustain a healthy life outside of medicine. Being a doctor will hopefully provide you with career stability, but time is a precious resource that we gave up during our training. It would be nice to have control of our time to enjoy our hard earned dollars.