Are All Aspects of Your Life Ready for Your Attending Position?

4 minute read

4 minute read

Congratulations! You’ve finished your residency or fellowship and you’re now an attending physician! But for many young physicians finishing their training, the transition from intern to attending can be exhilarating but also nerve-wracking.

Instead of working under an attending physician, you are the attending physician. And now you will be making the tough decisions and will be expected to perform at the same clinical level as attending physicians who have been practicing for years.

Overall, most attending physicians are prepared for the clinical aspects of their transition. After all, there are many guides on how to negotiate these changes.

The area where many new attending physicians feel uncertain is rather in the non-clinical aspects of the transition. From debt repayment to work-life balance, there is not nearly the amount of focus on the physician’s holistic well-being as there is on their performance as a practitioner.

This lack of guidance is reflected in the AMA’s "2015 Report on US Physicians' Financial Preparedness: Young Physicians Segment", which showed that 95 percent of young doctors would not consider themselves to be very knowledgeable regarding personal financial matters and 71 percent of young physicians feel only somewhat or not very confident that they are making the best personal financial decisions.

As this report shows, US medical training institutions are producing doctors who are prepared for success in their careers but not necessarily in the other, just as important, aspects of their lives.

In order to address this feeling of unpreparedness with non-clinical aspects, we’ve put together a list of three things to prioritize as you transition.

1. Put together a financial plan

Your financial plan is a reflection of your priorities—as you think about your financial goals, think about the most important things that you want to accomplish.

Is it saving for your children’s college funds? Is it being financially independent by 55? Is it buying a vacation home and spending a month there every year?

As you think about your goals, consider where you want to be in 5, 10, and 20 years and how these shorter-term goals contribute to your long-term destination. And if you’re like many young physicians, a big part of your financial plan will include debt repayment. To see our list of loan repayment strategies, click here.

It’s also integral to make sure that your income and family are protected from financial catastrophes such as death or an illness that would prevent you from working.

Catastrophe planning, from life insurance to disability insurance, it an important element in any financial plan. It makes sure that you won’t lose the financial goals you’ve worked towards in the case of an unforeseen circumstance.

If you’d like us to gather your disability quotes so that you don’t have to, you can click here to fill out a quick form.

We’ll collect your best disability quotes and let you know our recommendations, and you don’t have to spend a huge amount of time researching or considering which disability quote works for you!

2. Make your well-being a priority

Physicians are especially susceptible to professional burnout—a feeling characterized by emotional exhaustion, a loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. An unmanageable schedule can lead to a dissatisfying home life as well as depression and poor performance at work. Physician burnout can not only affect physicians’ mental and physical well-being, but can also affect patient care as well.

Cultivating work-life balance helps to alleviate professional burnout. Work-life balance can generally be viewed as a level of satisfaction with both personal and professional life. It does not mean a 50-50 split between work and outside life, but rather an allocation of your time and energy in a way that serves your goals.

Our top tips to achieve a work-life balance that works for you can be found here.

3. Create a support system

The goal of social support is to decrease stress, and the transition to becoming an attending physician is certainly a stressful time. It can also be stressful for your family, especially as many transitions include moving to a new city or state.

Along with your family, try to foster a support system of professional relationships. From the other physicians in your practice to your specialty’s professional society resources, these relationships can help overcome the lack of a ramp-up period in most attending physician’s new positions.

Part of creating a support system is not only relying on family or friends, however, but to delegate where you can. From investment planning to catastrophe planning, building a support system of people who take care of things that you don’t have time for can help you navigate your transition with confidence.