"Being an academic physician isn't what I had planned when I first started medical school, but I'm so grateful to have found it," said Pierce-Talsma. "You can start in academic medicine slowly. At Touro, we have adjunct professors who teach in the doctoring skills and osteopathic medicine labs any range of days from a half day to several half days per week." In addition to pay, adjunct faculty can also benefit by counting teaching time toward at least a portion of continuing medical education requirements.
Similar opportunities may exist at residency programs and medical schools where a combination of teaching and mentorship are needed. If physicians want a trial run before making the leap, Pierce-Talsma suggests volunteering to conduct a lecture or series of lectures.
"Many physicians have started to decrease their hours and work part-time," she said. "[In academia medicine], there is increasing awareness of physician burnout [and] this has made it more acceptable to move to a part-time position where you can still be engaged with patient care and the practice of medicine while remaining cognizant of [personal] health and wellness needs."
Career and financial support
Whatever direction physicians take to work part-time hours, an employment change, whether temporary or permanent, can prompt concerns about career impact, finances, and even self-worth. To ease the transition, compiling a solid support team — from career coaches to financial planners to family and friends — can be helpful, experts say.
Career coaches can assist in identifying short- and long-term goals as well as potential employment pathways. Peter S. Moskowitz, a physician career and life coach and executive director of the Center for Professional & Personal Renewal, a consultancy for physician career transition and life coaching in Palo Alto, Calif., uses the four basic pillars of self-knowledge to ensure well-integrated career transitions for his clients. "A physician's personality profile, unique transferable skills, career values, and personal sense of purpose [can] provide a stable platform from which physicians can scout new and appropriate careers," he said.
When it comes to financial concerns, advanced planning is critical. With issues running the gamut from potential pay reductions and loss of benefits, to access to public service loan forgiveness programs that are based on full-time employment, forming a relationship with a trusted adviser even while still in medical school can lay the groundwork for future career transitions.