September 16, 2015
You may be tempted to tell a soon-to-be former employer, “Drop dead, meathead!” That’s a big mistake.
Physicians know all about keeping their emotions in check-when it comes to dealing with patients. But when it’s time to quit a hated job, these same doctors may erupt with months or years of molten rage.
But think twice before venting your anger. Fate often has nasty surprises in store for doctors who burn their bridges.
One unhappy physician who landed a new job told his old administrator where to go – and he did it at a board meeting. Afterward, when the administrator went to the doctor’s office seeking an explanation, the doctor ordered the man – at the top of his voice – to get out.
Several months later, however, the administrator unexpectedly reappeared in this doctor’s life. He, too, had landed a new job – as the executive in charge of contracting at the local Blues plan, which happened to be the largest payer of the doctor’s new group. The doctor, now stuck in an irreparably awkward situation, wishes he had exited his previous job with a little more tact.
A million-to-one-shot? Hardly. The health-care industry is more incestuous than an ancient Greek drama; such twists of fate are uncannily common. The medical director you tell off today could wind up being your new supervisor six months from now. So making a graceful exit isn’t just a show of civility; it’s a smart career move. Here’s how to depart with-out leaving ill feelings in your wake.
When breaking the news, be diplomatic
Level with your employer about why you’re leaving, but do so in a natural tone of voice. Don’t follow the lead of one irate doctor who used his exit interview to accuse his employer of acting “unethically,” “immorally,” and “illegally.” (In fact, the employer was guilty of none of these charges.)
In all likelihood, your employer isn’t a monster or a criminal, even though your perspectives may clash. So tell the truth – but without inflammatory language. For example, “I’ve found a job with a group whose philosophy better matches mine.”
There’s an old saying: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Being cool is better than losing your cool when you walk out the door. That just tells your employer that you’re an unstable hothead, and good riddance.
Be prepared to honor your moral obligations
What if you accept a new job in the middle of a three-year contract? Your current employer can’t force you to stay for the remaining year and a half. But you probably do have to give 90 days notice; that’s a standard contract stipulation.
Even so, it’s possible your employer will tell you to clear out your desk and be gone that day. The reason: Your employer doesn’t want you hanging around, saying negative things to colleagues and staff. If you’re asked to depart immediately, you’ll come out ahead financially, since you’re still entitled to 90 days’ pay.
But if you’re asked to work all or part of the three months, you’re morally obliged to continue to do your job well during that period. Don’t show up late, go home early, get sloppy with charting, or trash the employer in front of colleagues or patients.
In fact, you may be asked not to tell anyone at work that you’ve given notice. That’s a tough secret to keep, but for everyone’s sake, seal your lips. You don’t want people pestering you with the same annoying questions day after day. And you don’t do your co-workers any favors by ranting about how terrible their workplace is and how lucky you are to be leaving.
Don’t give your employer an excuse to retaliate
In your zeal to wrap up administrative details before you exit, don’t go overboard. You could inadvertently do something that will infuriate your employer – and land you in legal trouble.
For instance, you might think it’s a good idea to send a letter to patients notifying them that you won’t be their doctor anymore. Your employer may think that you’re attempting to steal patients. And even if the letter merely announces that you’re leaving, it may look to your employer as if you’re implying that the practice is deficient. As a consequence, you might be sued. You can, however, send a letter to patients with your employer’s approval.
When you’re cleaning out your office, don’t pack any documents that aren’t yours. Patient records are the employer’s property; taking them could get you charged with theft.
Even photocopying documents in your files is a bad idea. Many employers invest a fortune to develop protocols and guidelines for efficiently managing patient care. That’s intellectual property. Documents detailing those systems are proprietary – don’t copy them to use at your new work place. Doing so could land you in deep legal trouble.
This article was published by Cejka Search and originally appeared in Medical Economics Magazine. Copyright by Medical Economics Company Inc. at Montvale, NJ 07645. All rights reserved.
If “Have stethoscope, will travel” sounds like a career option worth investigating further, dozens of locum recruiters nationwide will be glad to get you temporary work. The most convenient place to find them is on the Internet. Search for ‘locum tenens” with your Web browser.