There are many reasons physicians choose to take on service activities in addition to their time spent practicing. Some do so for the experience, to add variation to their schedules, to step outside of their comfort zone or just for the sake of making a difference.
Taking on extra projects, aiding communities in need and pursuing medical missions can be extremely rewarding but - whatever your motivation - you will want to consider these aspects before making a commitment:
- Your bandwidth
One of the most important - and first - things to consider before jumping into another opportunity is your current capacity. Make sure you’re interested in the additional work for the right reasons and are being honest with yourself. Will taking on another project spread you too thin? Or will it give you a reinvigorated approach while allowing you to focus on career advancement?
If you’ve been feeling less than passionate as you practice lately, new and different activities alongside your current work could be what helps you hit the reset button. However, if you’re feeling close to burned out there’s a chance it could be too much at this time. Ultimately, that decision is dependent on your personality and what usually works best for you.
As much as you might want the experience for professional or personal growth, make sure it’s something you’ve assessed against your current workload. Will one start slipping if you focus your attention to the other?
- Your safety and wellness
Right now, COVID has a big part to play in the opportunities we take and those we put on hold. Whatever additional opportunities you’re considering, assess your and your family’s well-being first.
Does the opportunity allow you to remain close to them? Does it require travel? What kind of care could you expect to receive if you were to contract the virus? Will you have the proper protective equipment and necessary tools to do the work well - and safely? Will you have to quarantine for a certain amount of time if travel is involved? Process these things in detail before making your decision.
- Your current employment
Whether you’re looking to volunteer, pursue a medical mission or assist a community in need, you’ll want to first consider where you stand with your current employment agreements. It will be crucial to first consider whether you’re able to work elsewhere as outlined in your contract.
You’ll also want to find out whether you can accept payment for participating in this mission or activity, how partaking in these activities might impact your overall vacation and leave time, and if your medical liability insurance will transfer.
These are just a handful of the details you’ll need to address and answer ahead of time to determine if the opportunity is right for you.
- Where you’re needed most
You may be drawn to extracurriculars or mission opportunities because you have a heart for service - you are a physician after all. Regardless, there will always be someone, somewhere that needs healing. You will want to consider whether your efforts will be most impactful elsewhere or where you are now.
Will this opportunity be one to stretch you and your purpose, or stifle it at this time? With the tools and skillset you currently have, where can you have the most positive influence on those you’re treating, and on your productivity as a health care provider?
The answer will be different based on where you are in your career, and it’s not the same for every physician. First, prioritize your needs, then focus on where your service can be most beneficial.
Extracurriculars and missions can be a great way to grow as a health care provider and individual while making a difference. As you consider career advancement opportunities outside your immediate work, outline the benefits, potential challenges and what steps are necessary to take to make it a reality.
We’re here to help! For more information or assistance determining if additional opportunities are right for you, contact [email protected].