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How to know if you need a change of direction in your medical career

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

How do you know when you need to change direction in your medical career - and when you just need to make a few tweaks to your current path in order to regain the sense of fulfilment and passion you once had for your role?

Inspired Medics continue to support our colleagues with wellbeing and career fulfilment despite the challenges of lockdown. Our Portfolio GP careers conference led many clinicians to make significant changes for the better in their careers, and in the current climate we will continue to offer support virtually.

We are delighted to have guest blogger Dr Claire Kaye giving you some helpful top tips. Claire is an Executive Coach specialising in career development and a former portfolio GP.


Your quick guide on how to a get a medical career that you love.

I am writing this article during the 3rd UK lockdown when many doctors are exhausted, stressed and worn out. It is an incredibly challenging time. The last year has highlighted, more than ever, the need to care for ourselves, our colleagues, and our loved ones. However, it can be hard when your reserves are already low.

Luckily there has been a massive influx of supportive resources flooding social media and reputable platforms such as Practitioner Health and the BMA. Experts have been posting wellbeing videos, seminars, blogs, and support services. Huge numbers of Doctors have been accessing these services. But is something missing? Yes, is the answer.

When we think about wellbeing we might think about self-care, including staying active, staying connected, learning something new, giving and noticing i.e., staying present. All these factors, as well as a healthy diet, low stress and sleeping well are vital to our overall wellbeing. The Inspired Medics digital online courses on Lifestyle Medicine give you the evidence for applying these interventions for your patients and yourselves.

We also need to include our work lives into the equation. When we take a step back and look at how we spend our week, most of us spend a huge proportion of our lives at work, and this is an area which will definitely impact our self-care. So, by default surely an essential part of our overall wellbeing depends on how we feel about our work? For some, work is a source of motivation, structure and focus. It gives them a sense of purpose and they feel immensely positive about their career. I am luckily enough to say that I fit in to this category. However, looking around at the moment, it feels that I am in the minority. So, what can we do to nourish this part of our lives to improve our overall wellbeing?

Actually, its simpler than you think.

Firstly, I would suggest you ask yourself this simple question:


What does my career need?

My permission to fall back in love with it?

A little bit of tweaking?

A complete change?


In my experience, when you reflect on this question most people feel they need to either tweak or find a way to fall back in love with their careers. However, some may feel they need a complete change. It’s an important starting point. Reflecting on your career allows you to identify the things that motivate you and the things that demotivate you. By doing this simple exercise you are taking the first steps to improving your overall wellbeing.


My permission to fall back in love with my career.

Giving your self-permission to fall back in love with your job can feel like a bizarre approach especially at the moment, but it’s highly effective. It may be that you love medicine and your clinical work but feel generally overwhelmed and exhausted. If this is the case, focusing on what you can control rather than what you cannot is hugely empowering. It is remarkable the things we can have influence over, if we approached things differently. Being proactive and choosing how you respond to situations, regardless of how dire they are, also goes a long way to helping you cope better and as a result, helps you fall back in love with what you do.


Tweaking your career

If you career needs a few tweaks, think about the areas of work that motivate and fulfil you. Seek to develop these areas and reduce the areas that you find more draining. A good example is to think of someone who is lead clinician for clinical governance in their practice. If they find this role demotivating and draining it will colour how they feel about the other areas of their work. By stopping or reducing the amount of time spent doing this role and conversely spending more time on areas they enjoy, for example other aspects of management, they are instantly revitalizing their career. This is often a win-win situation for you and your team. If you are doing something you enjoy you will tend to do it more efficiently and effectively. This benefits the team as a whole and most teams are very receptive to people working in areas they enjoy. It may also be the case that someone in your team would find the area fulfilling that you find draining. Everyone has different skill sets and aspirations. You simply do not know until you start reflecting and talking.


A complete change

If you feel like you may need a complete change in your career, then it’s worth using my 3 ’R’s:

3 ’R’s





We have touched on Reflect already. This is the area that is most important to spend time on.

The Reinvent stage is when you wave a magic wand and think about what you would want in an ideal situation. It is worth asking yourself a few simple coaching questions such as:

  • What does good look like?

  • How would I feel if I achieved that?

The Rebuild stage is the more practical section based around goal setting and putting practical next steps in place to achieve your goals.

For more tips checkout our article post on 'Building a Winning Mindset'


Wherever you are at in your career, it is a fundamentally important that you take the time to reflect on it as it is a huge part of your overall wellbeing. However, this doesn’t have to be an onerous task, spending a few minutes each day thinking about these questions will have an impact. Some people prefer to go through this process with a career coach because they find it’s a more productive and supportive approach. My clients find that coaching has a massive impact.

Some of you reading this article may feel that this all sounds great but is now really the right time? In short, there has never been a better time. Take a moment to take care of YOU for a change, take care of your wellbeing but remember a massive part that is your career fulfilment.


Dr Claire Kaye is an Executive Coach specialising in career development, and a former portfolio GP. She provides one to one coaching, team coaching, seminars and facilitation of away-days. She also has a passion for medical education and has won multiple awards in this area. Claire is the Lead GP advisor to BMJ Live and in this role she has helped set up, develop and deliver BMJ Masterclass GP Update courses and BMJ Live. She has had a varied portfolio career including being a CQC inspector, presenting short education videos, setting up an award winning nationally recognised housebound service for frail elderly patients and being on the primary care advisor board of a health tech company.

Her aim as an Executive Coach, Speaker and Educationalist is to help people reach their potential through understanding what they really want.

Follow her on Instagram @drclairekaye_executivecoaching and her website


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