Follow These Steps to Prepare Yourself 

Get ready for the financial, legal, and psychosocial consequences of giving notice to your employer or partners.

What can you expect, and how should you prepare, when leaving your current position? 

Most of you will be in the following situation. You're working for a medical group or healthcare system. And you find clinical medicine to be frustrating and unrewarding. There are many potential reasons. Here are just a few:

  • lack of respect by coworkers or managers,
  • understaffing that limits your ability to fully meet your patients' needs, 
  • poorly designed or slow EMRs,
  • long hours,
  • churning of patients to maintain worked RVUs,
  • entitled, angry patients, who take your care for granted,
  • endless paperwork, and,
  • lack of control over your hours, staffing, vacations, etc.

You may have checked out emotionally and you realize that something must change.

Our Sponsor

We're proud to have the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, as the sponsor of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest-running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country. It has over 700 graduates. And, the program only takes one year to complete. 

By joining the UT Physician Executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills you need to find a career that you love. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office at (865) 974-6526 or go to

Idealized Process for Leaving

You may envision the following scenario as your exit plan:

  1. You will find something else to do, either clinical or nonclinical, or both.
  2. Once that’s locked in, or you have a really sound plan, you will give separation notice to your employer.
  3. You will leave in a few weeks to a few months from now, and that will be that! Problem solved.

Unfortunately, that is not how it usually goes. If not fully prepared, what follows are a series of unexpected financial, legal, and/or psychosocial consequences that can slow or complicate your departure. 

Get Ready for Financial Issues

Any pivot will have financial consequences. If there is a gap between jobs, you’ll need a nest egg to get you through the time when income temporarily stops. This is ameliorated if you have passive income from other sources, or if your spouse’s income can cover expenses while you’re in the process of transitioning.

Here are some questions to keep in mind before finalizing your decision to give notice:

  • Am I forgoing any retirement funds or deferred compensation by leaving? For example, certain plans are forfeited if you leave employment before retirement age.
  • What expenses might I incur, including malpractice tail coverage, which can be quite expensive?
  • Are there performance or quality bonus dollars that I lose if I am not employed at the end of a calendar or fiscal year? A relatively short delay in leaving might bring thousands of dollars of income that would otherwise be forfeited.
  • If I leave, will I need to pay back any sign-on bonuses I received when joining the current group or system?

Get Ready for Legal Issues

This leads us to the legal ramifications. An employment contract is typically a long and complicated document. Many provisions are forgotten until separation is imminent. And some of them will prevent, postpone or complicate your departure.

Questions to consider include:

  • Will a restrictive covenant keep me from working in my new job?
  • If I’m shifting to my own practice, am I prevented from bringing key employees from my previous employer with me?
  • What happens with the remaining time off and other benefits outlined in my agreement?
  • How do I handle the process if I don’t have an employment agreement? What are the Human Resources Department Procedures that I agreed to follow when I took the job?

Get Ready for Psychosocial Issues

You may observe a common behavioral pattern in colleagues and employers when leaving. That pattern is Kubler-Ross’s 5 Stages of Death and Dying.

You may go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance once you realize that you can no longer tolerate working in your current situation. But you may not be prepared for those very same steps occurring in your colleagues and employer. The denial and anger of those around you can be particularly disconcerting.

It is naïve to think that a business that is dysfunctional is going to respond to your departure in a functional way.

Your managers may avoid you, even though there are issues to take care of. They may try to involve you in matters that are no longer of your concern. And they may attempt to burden you with more than your share of on-call duties. They may treat you as if you are not leaving.

You may intend to be completely professional and deliberate as you wrap things up. But prepare yourself for others to be oppositional, upset, angry, or in denial. This may manifest as passive-aggressive or overtly hostile behavior. So, how do you get ready for these potentially disruptive problems?

How to Prepare

Here is how to get ready for your transition when leaving your current employer.

  1. Take time to develop a plan BEFORE you put anything in motion. Make a list of all of the above factors and consider how to approach each one.
  2. Do your due diligence before reaching out to your employer. Review your employment contract or partnership agreement. Write down any aspects that involve significant financial consequences or legal landmines.
  3. Do your own financial analysis based on what you plan to do. And strongly consider involving your accountant. In addition to the direct monetary consequences of the move, there may be tax consequences. And you may need to adjust estimated income tax payments. It might be worthwhile to have your accountant create a pro forma, forecasting the 1-, 3- and 5-year consequences of taking the new job compared to staying in the old job.
  4. Next, I would meet with your attorney to go over questions in your employment or partnership agreement before making any final decisions about leaving. Be sure you understand the requirements for giving notice, and what happens once it is given.
  5. Once you feel secure in your decision and have an understanding of how the separation should be handled, give notice per your attorney’s instruction. Generally, that will include speaking directly with the appropriate person (delivering the notice in person), followed by certified mail if required.
  6. Prepare yourself mentally for the response from your current employer and those around you (starting with denial, and anger, and moving to bargaining, depression, and acceptance over time). Realize that denial and anger may follow quite quickly.

Final Thoughts

Oftentimes, you’re leaving an employer because it is dysfunctional. It may not be run like a business, with no regular meetings, problems that are ignored, the chain of command is ambiguous, and nonexistent strategic planning. It is naïve to think that a business that is dysfunctional is going to respond to your departure in a functional way.

So, be prepared.

NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode.

Links for Today's Episode:

Download This Episode:

Right Click Here and “Save As” to download this podcast episode to your computer.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, share it on Twitter and Facebook, and leave a review on iTunes.

Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton


Many of the links that I refer you to are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you.

The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life, or business.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. I do not provide medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counselor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career.