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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow: When It's Time to Move on to the Next Radiology Job


This author emphasizes that diplomacy is always the best policy when leaving one radiology employer for another.

A glance at my CV will show you I have had more than a couple of jobs in the nearly 18 years following my fellowship. Conventional wisdom might tell you that’s a bad thing (about me and/or the radiology field). I have written blogs about why it is not.

The more you do something, the better practiced at it you become. I don’t think many rads, or people in general, would put “leaving a job” in the top 10 list of skills they would like to develop. I certainly didn’t set out with that as a personal goal, but you know what they say about life giving you lemons. I have switched jobs more than the average rad so I would be a fool not to learn what I could from each transition.

I suppose folks do get prepped for this sort of thing way before they ever enter the job market. Growing up and going through higher education, one gains any number of friends, but also loses some along the way. Some of those exits are more graceful than others. This occurs with romantic relationship as well but those generally end less pleasantly. An enduring resentment often follows.

This is not a groundbreaking observation, but I think the reason for the latter is that those relationships are more emotionally charged. Other than unresolved emotions, why would you waste a moment of thought, let alone effort, on someone who is out of your life? There could be any reason for those negative sentiments (X cheated on you, Y stole your stuff, etc.), but what good does it do you to linger on it now?

So, when it comes to leaving a job, if you can avoid making it emotional, there is zero baggage for you to carry. While you don’t have as much control over how the other parties involved are going to take it, there are certainly things you can do (or refrain from) to minimize their chances of feeling resentful, vindictive, etc.

That can be easier said than done. There are, after all, reasons why you’re moving on from the gig. You might feel that they didn’t deliver on their promises, or otherwise treated you poorly. Part of you, wanting justice, might yearn to rub their noses in that. You may even be tempted to say “this is why I’m leaving. Maybe you can learn from it to treat your employees better from now on.”

As satisfying as that might feel, don’t do it. Further, if folks at the job take a swipe at you for leaving (calling you disloyal, unreliable, needy/demanding, etc.), don’t rise to the bait and respond. It can only escalate and give them an excuse to remember that you were just as petty as they were. Instead, keep the moral high ground. For instance, say you can understand how they might feel that way without admitting any wrongdoing. They will be left without a specific memory of your saying or doing anything obnoxious.

When you are able to change jobs without growing a list of personal enemies (or others who might have you on a list of their own), it no longer has to be a negative experience. It can be a downright positive one in fact.

Hopefully you’re moving into a better situation for yourself, and your new employer/team is happy to welcome you into their fold. Meanwhile, you’re not nursing any grudges and wasting your energies plotting about how to get revenge on your old digs, and you don’t have to worry about the reverse. Our litigious society has gone a long way towards squelching negative references, but they can still happen if there are people looking to get back at you. Furthermore, even if you need routine things like case logs, you don’t have to worry about the folks at your previous gig maliciously dragging their feet or otherwise holding you up.

There are other ways to keep job transitions diplomatic. One I have found to be particularly important is to make good use of your “out,” or, in other words, the contractually obligated interval you are required to continue at your old gig, after giving notice, before you actually leave for the new one. It might be tempting to visibly relax, producing less and not pitching in as much to help the rest of the team. What are they going to do? Fire you? However, that is just another way of rubbing their noses in your departure. It gives them a solid reason to be emotionally charged against you.

For example, when I left my last on-site job (the one that dragged their feet over giving me partnership, ultimately offering a “fake” one when they could no longer delay), I had plenty to be sore about. I had done everything they wanted, and the payoff was to find that they had disrespectfully wasted four to five years of my career.

They had nothing in my contract requiring any level of productivity. I could have let cases pile up, come to work late, left early, etc. Such behavior didn’t come naturally to me anyway, but I also saw that it would make things ugly and give them reasons to try getting back at me. (Plus, other employee rads who had done nothing wrong would have been forced to pick up the slack.)

I stayed the course. If anything, I dialed my efforts up a bit. Maybe that was a little vindictive of me, as much to say “Hey, look at this workhorse you are letting out the door.”

Darned if the managing honcho, the one who had pulled the partnership flimflam, didn’t stop by at some point and say, “You don’t like burning bridges, do you?” A few years later, well after my telerad career had taken off, he reached out to me to see if I would take on some of the company’s caseload.

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