I’ve had a few emails and phone calls recently with some of your guys who have considered switching jobs. The topic of employer loyalty comes up. So, should we, as medical professionals, be loyal to our employers?
My biggest issue with employers is that they don’t reciprocate the loyalty. But that’s not enough reason to skimp on the loyalty. There are other consequences to consider such as that proverbial bridge which we may need to cross again in the future. In summary, I don’t think the medical career pathway is paved on loyalty. Unlike the person who wants to be a politician or CEO, a physician should aim for the job with the highest satisfaction score and tell the employer to suck it.
Obviously, when we’re about to forgo loyalty, the first though that comes to mind is dealing with the consequences of such an attitude. If you live in a small town and don’t have the option of moving then you could burn the bridge with your employer if you decide to leave.
If they ask you to stay on a little longer and you don’t, they might retaliate against you. The larger the size of the medical group, the more power they have. It’s very unlikely for them to flex those muscles, but it happened in my case, so it’s not impossible.
Your ability to retaliate will be tiny. Any legal costs would come out of your own pocket and the burden of proof would be on you.
But always keep the big picture in mind; you are a physician or some other medical professional who isn’t easy to come by. There will always be another job out there for you. So, yes, there might be consequences dealing with a pissed off employer but it’s unlikely to ruin your career.
One employer, multiple employees
As an employee, you only have one customer, your employer. If you lose that job then you are fucked. Income would stop coming in and you’d be in a very desperate situation.
As an employer, you have multiple employees, there is no fear of your business falling apart if one employee leaves or has to be terminated. In essence, the employer is in the position of power. Especially those which don’t allow you to work for any other employer.
It’s this imbalance which created all the employment laws and sparked the rise of unions. By limiting your horizontal mobility, the employer is trying to keep more money in their pockets. It’s selfish, it’s one-sided.
From my own experience, I haven’t tasted any loyalty from my employer; not really blaming them, I get it. But because that loyalty isn’t there, it doesn’t make sense for me to be loyal.
Being blindly loyal to an employer will at best make me resentful, at worst, endanger my career.
Should we expect our employers to be loyal to us? Do they owe us more than just a 9-5 to show up to? I don’t believe so.
In fact, any apparent loyalty from our employers is often something we’ve dreamt up ourselves. An employer is there to make a system run. And the cogs of that wheel, us physicians for example, will need to be replaced if it slows down that system.
When in doubt if your employer reciprocates any loyalty you have towards them, ask yourself what they would do if you became a problem-employee. Let’s say you got in trouble with the medical board, had a terrible malpractice suit, developed an addiction, or had to go on extended disability. If they would bend over backwards to accommodate you, then your loyalty might be justified.
Beyond the lack of loyalty from our employers, we often have to deal with bullying or other forceful tactics. It’s important to remain professional even when an employer bullies you or takes advantage of their power. They can get away with a lot more than you can.
Any lack of professionalism on your part will unfortunately hurt you more than it will hurt your employer. All they will have to lose is a bad review on Glassdoor, but you stand to lose your good reputation which will follow you forever. Even worse, if you act unprofessionally, you’ll have to live with that and that’s a smudge on your conscience which you don’t need.
When it’s your time to bounce for a better job, do it but do it professionally. Give your employer a 30-90 day notice without voicing your grievance about the job. Complaining that you were mistreated or that your work was hard and your work-life balance was off won’t benefit you.
Also, don’t criticize your employer to leadership or publicly. Walk away and maintain your dignity. This will reflect nicely on you in the future. This sort of professionalism is rarely displayed because as medical professionals our expectations from our employers are often too high.
Leaving your employer
When you’re about to leave your employer, you will get all sorts of guilt laid on you. Their objective is to pressure you into staying. It’s standard practice, don’t take it personally.
Don’t give into this and make the right decision for yourself. Even if they beg you and plead to you and tell you that “you have no idea what a tough time it is for us in the organization”.
What’s the reason you’re working? Is it to do good for patients? If so, you can do that anywhere. Is it because you want to only see this employer’s patients? Well, that’s an odd fucking reason, but if that’s the case then you shouldn’t leave.
If it’s because you’re trying to earn a solid living with a sustainable schedule then you have to leave for a better opportunity. Otherwise you’ll just bitch and whine and make everyone else miserable.
In fact, the next job you go to may not be perfect either. Remain professional and realistic and keep job hopping until you find the right job or realize that your expectations are unrealistic. If that’s the case, adjust and make another move.
When contemplating a job change:
- Give a solid reason for leaving, such as a good opportunity to do something new or for a better work-life balance.
- Avoid blaming your employer because it will create a back and forths which you will not win.
- Don’t make it about the money. The worst outcome might be that they’ll offer you more money and you’ll remain miserable and end up leaving anyway.
- Give a notice and work up to your own standards until the very last day.
- Don’t give in just because your boss is laying a guilt trip on you about how many patients would be abandoned without you.
- Don’t fall for praise. Your boss might tell you that you’re their best physician and that without you the urgent care would fall apart. If that’s true then they would have dusted off a throne for you.
- Never stay for the money or benefits alone unless you truly couldn’t live without those things.