It is not unusual for many young physicians to get into their chosen field of specialization in a major medical center only to find that the stress and lack of support that can come with such an environment leads to a feeling of being perpetually burned out and psychologically exhausted. The pressures of working in such a situation can be intense, and you may find that you don’t have the time to spend with each patient and to provide the quality of care you desire. Of course, it is easy to see why many are attracted to the bright lights of major urban medical centers. There is always something going on, and you never know what the day is going to bring. However, there is another path that some doctors have found to be ultimately more fulfilling. While at the same time, one that offers better work/life balance and the opportunity to make a difference.
Taking a position in a smaller or mid-sized medical facility in a less crowded community can offer many advantages. There is less traffic to deal with, for one, cleaner air, and a sense of neighborliness that is uncommon in the big city. You will likely be able to live much closer to where you work, and you may even be able to walk or ride your bicycle to the hospital should you so choose. Young families, in particular, tend to find life in smaller towns and cities much more harmonious and less stressful. Smaller communities also tend to offer more chances for you to get involved or volunteer for causes that matter to you and/or your family. Life will move at a slower pace, and you’ll find that you have more time for the things that truly matter. These days many small cities offer high-quality restaurants, theaters, and cultural attractions that rival the best found in a large metropolitan area. Moving to such a community doesn’t mean you have to give up on the arts and culture or quality dining.
Equally important is the work environment in a smaller medical facility. Instead of being just one cog in a mighty machine, you’ll find that you actually have more time to spend with your patients and you may even know many of them from outside the hospital. There will still be the same sense of not knowing what to expect on any given day, but you will be given opportunities to operate at a higher level and to provide more general types of care than you could ever do in a big urban hospital. In addition to these factors, you will have a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of the day. Many physicians working in such an environment derive pleasure from knowing that they are serving a community where they are genuinely valued and needed. The skillset you bring to a smaller hospital setting will be unique and special in a way that isn’t possible in the big city. It is always good to consider your options and think about a different path. If you are happy and content where you then keep to your course. However, if you are not satisfied and feel that you could and should be doing more elsewhere why not consider the road less traveled? Give small-town living a try and you may find that you’ve changed your life and the lives of those around you for the better.