Thoughts and ideas from The Physician Executive
The Contemporary Physician Leader’s Career Map
June 12, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by The Physician Executive
a map for your physician executive career

I am a big believer in evolution. Of the world, of the human being throughout one's life, of a professional career. As a current physician leadership coach and business owner, with a zigzagging career spanning more than 30 years, I’m acutely aware that to thrive, I must evolve.

When I was a kid, our family doctor was a crusty, opinionated, spry man who loved his patients and who’d given his life to his general practice. I recall him sitting at my brother’s bedside for an entire night during an attack of croup, ready to do a tracheotomy if needed… as he later confided to my mom. He kept his practice going until his late 70s and I doubt if he ever reconsidered his decision to go into medicine. Even though I had not planned a career as a physician (but that is another story!), I think deep down he was my role model for a doctor.

Many of my readers know my story of career change (my LinkedIn profile should give you a hint), but you probably don’t know that even now, my career continues to evolve. I recently shifted my work’s focus to coaching physician executives, emerging physician leaders, and other healthcare executives. Not 100% of the time, however – I love the variety of working with clients in several fields!

Why did I embark on this shift? Am I giving up physician entrepreneur coaching? Am I moving on from my existing business? These are questions I’ve been asked, and I’ve given them all some thought.

The nature of these questions signifies a fundamental assumption that, to be considered stable and sane, we must remain attached to “one occupation” or "one direction" and that if anything changes in that equation, we are surely about to make a move because we are unhappy.


I added this new patch of work to my career quilt because I spotted a fascinating opportunity – a chance to help physicians stay within healthcare, add to their skill set, and ensure that their valuable voices are heard at their organizational "tables" where, until now, strategic decisions have often been made without strong clinical input.

So I continue to coach clients, and consult with healthcare organizations to improve their results while raising a teenage daughter, and write this blog and … who knows what’s next? I’m ALWAYS keeping my eyes open for the next meaningful opportunity.

I’m arguing that the contemporary career of a physician can and perhaps should be a map of conjoined states — it can contain clinical practice AND leading a team AND writing a book AND tackling an important organizational project AND AND being part of a family and community … there are far more possible “ands.”

Doesn’t that sound more exhilarating to you than feeling stuck in one gear?

Isn’t it time to shift that gear from “either … or” to “and … and”?