By Elizabeth Chasse, MD, MPH
For young physicians, completing their residency and entering the work force can be exciting but daunting. Years of training lead to this pivotal time and finding the perfect job may be stressful: many physicians end up leaving their first position within a couple of years. Rather than seeking out the perfect job, I advise medical professionals not to limit themselves. If you cannot find everything you are looking for in one job, it may be advantageous to explore working two jobs. This approach can also further your interdisciplinary and interprofessional training, one of the central tenets of the Urban Service Track’s educational program.
Speaking from personal experience, I liked that working in the Emergency Department was shift work and did not require being on call. I also liked outpatient pediatric medicine, which provided the joyful opportunity to watch children grow over the years. Instead of choosing one job over the other, I decided to do both. Working both jobs provides a nice balance between both the outpatient and emergency room settings.
In the pediatric office, I get to develop and grow ongoing relationships with my patients and their families. This continuity provides one kind of great learning environment: through follow-up visits, I am able to assess the success and effectiveness of my plans and treatments. It is also a priceless experience to see children at their newborn visit and then see their growth and development at subsequent visits. The Emergency Department (ED) is a different work environment, one with a more urban patient population. With the ED’s quicker pace, I have the benefit of promptly knowing lab and radiology results, allowing me to reassure patients with rapid answers. I am able to hone skills and practice procedures that I would not have the opportunity to do in outpatient pediatrics. The ED is also a variegated and stimulating academic environment. I work with scribes, many of whom are interested in going into the medical field themselves, am shadowed by undergraduates, and supervise medical and PA students. I advise PAs and NPs when they have clinical questions, and also seek advice on patients from them, as well as from ED physicians and fellows. Working in the ED and in outpatient pediatrics makes me a more well-rounded physician. I can apply what I learn in each work environment to the other, and I can better relate to patients in both settings.
It is neither feasible nor sustainable to work two jobs both full-time, and working two jobs in two different work environments is not for everyone. This column is simply meant to raise awareness of the option as a workaround for strictures which may manifest early in medical professionals’ careers. Scheduling difficulties can be obviated: jobs can be worked full-time, part-time, or even per diem. Some subspecialty physicians work both in their subspecialty and in general outpatient pediatrics, and some pediatricians work both as hospitalists and in outpatient pediatrics. Although this column is focused on pediatrics, it equally applies to other specialties, providers and disciplines. It is worthwhile to explore your options, no matter your field, and to not settle. You will have to find out what works best for you and what will give you the most balance in your life.
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