When the Hospital Does Not Love You Back

“My job is about to be phased out,” a VA physician told me in a hurried tone that suggested that every minute counted. “I did not think that any physician lost his job at the VA, but two departments are combining and my job will be eliminated.”

Like most physicians who live (and occasionally relive) the drama, When the Hospital Does Not Love You Back, he did not know that full-time employees have rights and, after the phone call, went to learn more about those rights from Human Resources and his union.

 What to do when you are in his situation
The mnemonic SAFE is good to remember when you are feeling overwhelmed:

  • Stop what you are doing: the best thing when you feel like you are in a rut is to stop digging and get a fresh perspective
  • Assess your options by writing them on paper and showing them to your spouse, significant other, or a colleague at another organization
  • Focus on what you need to do immediately, and the short- and long-term
  • Evaluate the response to your immediate actions and reformulate your strategy
  • As we discussed in the last newsletter F.E.A.R. is an acronym for Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real.  Most of our fears do not materialize. They are a manifestation of our egos, that exist to keep us comfortable and feeling in control.
  • For those whose jobs are secure, I ask only one question: Have you invested in the GTH and FU funds. GTH refers to 6 months of liquid assets (cash and stocks, and bonds that can be sold within a few days); the FU fund describes 1 year of liquid assets. Not being dependent on your job to pay your debts gives you leverage
  • Substitute the question, “Why is this happening for me,” for “Why is this happening to me?” Those who are spiritually connected know that some times the gift can take weeks, months, or years to be clear. To paraphrase Jack Canfield, our outcomes depend as much on our reaction to events as on the events themselves.

With clarity, come the resources we need to succeed. Successful change agents recognize that they can’t do it alone and seek out mentors to guide them and help them see beyond their blind spots.

To obtain the 10-Step Guide to Physician Reinvention, please click here.


To paraphrase Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, change is disturbing when it is done to us, but exciting when done by us.

I wish all of you continued success as you navigate the white water of change. Please share with me your progress and learning and contact me anytime that I can be of service to you.

Kenneth H. Cohn, MD, MBA, FACS

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