Here’s the list so far. Let me know what additional questions you have!
Who did you talk to about this?
At first, only my fiance. Then my sister, then a med school friend. Eventually, my parents, mentors, friends, etc. It was so hard to put into words in the beginning. I always felt like I had to be ready to defend my thoughts of quitting. It was tough, but each conversation helped me with the next. And most of them helped me contextualize the situation better.
This was hard. I was worried I would be judged by others, and I probably was by some. Eventually I got this profound sense of clarity that can only be summarized as “who gives a f*ck?” I was the one who went through med school, I’m the one going through residency, and I’m the one who will be directly affected by my career choices (I know I keep plugging Chelsea’s book, but that’s where I learned this mindset). So during each conversation, while I was open to advice on new ways to look at my situation, I kept in mind that the decision was ultimately mine alone to make.
I’d also like to share that while I used to dread these conversations because I had to rack my brain on how I would defend myself, now, several months later, I just tell people the simple truth: I realized I didn’t want to practice medicine. It wasn’t worth going through residency.
How did you communicate with your program?
At first, just with the chiefs while I wasn’t able to return to work. I eventually told them that I was having “passive quitting wishes.” I just wanted to put it on their radar as a professional courtesy, rather than resign all of a sudden. Eventually this led to regular check-ins with the PD. He was an absolute angel during the process, always asking how I was doing, and working with me to figure out how the next several weeks/months would go. Again, I don’t say this to rub it in, but to say that we should hold all residency programs to these standards, or at least close.
How does Leave of Absence (LoA) work?
I can only speak to my experience, but once my residency program brought up the option, I had to first apply for FMLA, which took a couple weeks I believe. Once that was approved, I was also able to apply for disability coverage as my mental health was preventing me from working.
How does licensing work if you leave residency?
Great question, here’s the most annoying answer: it varies by state. In most states, you can get a medical license after just one or two years of residency, but some require three years. Check this site for details. Obviously make sure you hammer down these details before resigning if having a license is important to you. I can tell you that I was able to get my state medical license with completion of 1 year of residency and passing Step 3 (among other smaller things). Keep in mind, this process can take 2-3 months.
Also, I’m sure you all know this, but medical license does not equal board certification. Without completing residency and getting board-certified, you will not have as many opportunities to practice clinically. But having a medical license will get you in some doors.
Is it possible to switch residencies?
It is! I have no personal experience in this, but while I was looking for resources online, I found a blog post by a resident who switched from OB/GYN to radiology. If you know of other pertinent resources, please let me know!