The decision to leave a job is a tough one. However, due to the nature of physician employment, there are several things that must be done to ensure a smooth transition. Leaving a job in an improper way can negatively impact not only your ability to get future employment, it may also put your medial license in jeopardy.
- Read your contract. Before submitting your resignation, be sure to read your contract thoroughly. You need to understand the termination clause. You need to know how much notice you must give before leaving. Are you to give a 30, 60, or 90-day notice. How is your notice to be given: email, letter, addressed to whom? If you resign from your job, must you always resign from the medical staff at the hospitals where you currently have privileges? You also need to know whether there is any money that you must pay back. Many contracts state that if you leave prior to the end of your contract, you must repay signing bonuses, relocation expense, loan payments, etc.? Furthermore, you need to know if you must pay for your malpractice tail insurance. In addition to that, you need to know whether your contract has a no-complete clause and how long it applies.
- Have another job. If possible, you should have another job before you leave you current one. You should ideally have signed another contract or at least have a signed letter of intent before you submit your resignation. If you plan to do locums, be sure you have a locums assignment scheduled before you submit your resignation. If you don’t have another job or don’t plan to do locums, make sure you have enough money saved.
- Talk to human resources/payroll. You need to see whether you are due any money from upcoming bonuses or unused vacation. You also need to inquire about purchasing malpractice tail insurance if required in your contract. Furthermore, you need to know when your employment benefits expire. When does your health, insurance expire? Are you eligible for COBRA? What is the process for rolling over your 401k? Can you keep the current life insurance policy you have through your employer? Can you keep the current disability insurance you have through your employer?
- For those of you practicing outpatient medicine and have a panel of patients, be sure you or your practice notifies the patients in plenty of time about your departure. You need to give them enough time to find a new provider, have their records, transferred, etc. Failure to do this could result in “abandonment of patients” and this is reportable to the state medical board
- Make the best out of the time you have left on your job. You always want to leave your current job on good terms. This is not the time to be rude or dismissive. Do not come to work with the “take this job and shove it” mentality. Be positive in your resignation letter. Thank your current employer for the opportunity to work with them. Tell them you are leaving to pursue other options, spend more time with family, etc. This is not the time to tell them exactly what you think of them. Remember, your future employer will always contact your past employers. Do NOT just walk off the job. Ever. I have known physicians who have done this, and have great difficulty obtaining future employment.
Taking these five steps will help ensure a smooth transition between one job to the next.