Physician walking the line, balancing life and the physician job search
Physician walking the line, balancing life and the physician job search

Balancing life and the physician job search

Read PracticeLink articles by Alexandra Cappetta
Alexandra Cappetta

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Starting to look for jobs as a physician can be exciting. It can also be a big commitment that often becomes a full-time job in and of itself. But what happens when overwhelming personal circumstances arise when trying to make professional plans and you try balancing life and the physician job search?

In other words, what happens when life happens during your physician job search?

Maybe you’re embracing exciting new chapters, like relocating, having a baby or getting engaged and beginning to plan a wedding. Or maybe, this chapter has introduced new personal hardships, such as an illness, loss or change in family structure.

Whatever the case, any life event that impacts your day to day will probably impact your job hunt, too.  The good news is that there are several ways you can move forward with a successful search as you move through life’s ups and downs.

6 tips for navigating life changes during the physician job search:

  1. Have your priorities outlined

When the unexpected happens during the job search, it will be a relief to have already considered, organized and set your priorities in stone. The best way to make sure your decisions remain rock solid throughout periods of heightened emotional stress or excitement is to have them determined before it sets in.

  1. Establish realistic timelines

Similarly, life changes like starting a family or planning a wedding may come with more specific commitments or predictable timelines. In other words, it might be easier to shape your job search around these circumstances to manage the expectations of both.

Be upfront with yourself about how much time and effort you can realistically dedicate to both personal and professional needs. It can help to develop a rough, though realistic timeline and set bite-sized goals to make it more manageable to plan how you’ll utilize your time and efforts.

  1. Ask for support and share responsibilities

Your support network is there for difficult or overwhelming times such as these. Reach out to loved ones you trust, like family, friends, colleagues and coworkers. Their support, advice and even assistance can help alleviate the pressure and stress of searching for jobs alongside major life happenings.

If you have a spouse and they’re available to help, see if they can tend to certain steps of the job search that might be more time consuming, like searching for openings and reaching out to potential employers.

  1. Prioritize YOU

The job search can be mentally exhausting, especially when compounded by demanding life events. However, it’s key to remember when personal and professional needs are competing, you risk neglecting both if you’re neglecting self-care efforts, too.

Managing and maintaining your own wellness is crucial to staying balanced. When you’re not job searching or tending to personal matters, rejuvenate yourself with activities that bring you joy or get you in motion, such as gardening, jogging, crafting, cooking or relaxing with friends.

  1. Be ready to adapt

In some cases, abrupt life changes might also impact plans and expectations you have for your career, which is why it helps to be adaptable and open to adjusting certain job search priorities and timelines.

Let’s say your #1 priority is work-life balance and finding a job location that puts you near the great outdoors; then suddenly, you feel the call back to your hometown city to spend critical time with a family member. Location is still what you’re prioritizing most – but there’s a different motive.

At this point, ask yourself what other factors matter most to you in an opportunity so you can elevate them and refocus your search. Embracing flexibility is always going to give you the advantage of resilience and allow you to pivot more easily toward alternatives that offer other desirable aspects of your ideal job.

  1. Communicate with prospective employers

When highly involved personal commitments arise during the job search, being straightforward with recruiters and potential employers is nonnegotiable.

Otherwise, life events that might reasonably distract you or cause you to be less responsive can translate to employers as being secretive, unengaged, or lacking communication skills.

Being honest about your situation helps employers understand where you are, which creates space for empathy – and potentially a willingness to provide accommodation. Plus, it showcases your professional maturity and initiative to take a proactive problem-solving approach.


Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop when monumental changes start to unfold, and neither does the job search. But the same is true for practicing physicians who learn to manage the highs and lows of their personal lives while still being the consistent caregiver in their professional roles. It’s doable though not always easy.

If circumstances are pulling your attention away from job searching, give yourself grace knowing it can be hard to make decisions about the future when present demands are overwhelming. Remain transparent, intentional and open to the possibility of discovering opportunities that are even more perfect than you’d planned.

Life is unpredictable, that’s what this article is about. But remember, just as quickly as life changes arise, exceptional opportunities can, too.

Read PracticeLink articles by Alexandra Cappetta

Alexandra Cappetta

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