Are you ready for a seventy year career? The traditional three stage career model of medical education, full time employment as a doctor, and then a period of later life retirement is rapidly changing for doctors, public health and medical leaders. Instead, a multi-stage career is becoming increasingly possible: one which reflects the unique and changing needs of each doctor or public health professional as they juggle their careers and their personal lives.
A multi-stage career has periods of intense learning, periods of stability and ‘doing the job’, and periods of pause and reflection, often allowing for greater self care, attention to non-work pursuits or to balance caring responsibilities for the wider family.
The UK Office for National Statistics predicts that 15.2% of today’s 50 year-old women and 10.4% of today’s 50 year-old men will live to be at least one hundred years old: this proportion is nearly 22.5% for today’s 30 year old women, and 16.6% of today’s 30 year old men.
With the prospect of a hundred-year lifespan for many of us being a real possibility, the prospect of a forty-year retirement can seem very unappealing for medical and public health professionals who have spent most of their adult lives actively engaged in intellectual, humanitarian and creative arts and science. Yet the risk of burnout in doctors and leaders is also very real and very serious. How can we support doctors, medical and public health leaders to continue to do their own best work as they age in the context of a multi-stage seventy-year career?
A multi-stage public health or medical career allows for ‘serial mastery’ – where we develop core areas of specialism where we can have deep expertise: the ‘golden thread’ through our careers. ‘Career crossroads’ type questions and concerns are common given the highly complex careers of medical and public health leaders: With the volume of choice, how do I move forwards from here? How do I understand myself professionally now that I am no longer on a traditional career path? How do I play to my strengths, and do my own best work and stay well at the same time? How do I choose the right next step for myself and position myself appropriately?
How expert Career Counselling can help
Expert Career Counselling is the model of choice when a senior doctor or public health leader is facing a question about career direction or career choices, and is rooted in evidence-based occupational psychological theory.
Being strategic about one’s career needs in the context of one’s personal life is vital to ensure long and rewarding careers for every leader and senior doctor. It is wholly possible to enjoy the positive aspects of both home and work, to stay well, continually reenergised and motivated, and to impact on the health and wellbeing of the populations you serve and the colleagues you work with, through making skilful choices and decisions in the context of a multi-stage seventy-year career.
Dr Fiona Day is a former Consultant in Public Health Medicine, now working as an Executive Coach providing world-class coaching for senior doctors, medical and public health leaders in the UK and internationally.