Options When not Working
A huge consideration for any health professional who loses their license to practice will be: what happens now?
The broad areas of concern will be:
- Health – Physical / Emotional / Psychological
The broad areas of concern for a doctor who has been suspended or is unable to work are:
- What happens now?
- Health – Physical / Emotional / Psychological
What happens now?
Here is what you need to do now:
- Call your employer immediately – you are not going to be returning to work tomorrow, and they need to know as soon as possible.
- Call your partner / family – they need to know so that they can be there for you when you get home.
- Call your indemnity provider – they are usually unaware of the outcome until a few days later, and the sooner you make contact, the sooner you can plan forwards eg for appeal etc.
- Take some time out to yourself – once you have done the first three things, there is really precious little you can do by sitting at home – go and visit close friends with whom you can take your mind off things.
- Start planning – you have to have a clear plan moving forwards about what you are going to do with your time, and how to organise your finances and other affairs.
- Call the indemnity provider frequently during the next few days – there may have been progress or feedback from the hearing that will help your understanding of why what happened did – it is ok to feel like you are pestering them – that is what you pay your indemnity for after all.
- Contact the LMC (Local Medical Committee) – they are an excellent resource and will help you with the legalities and support networks of being suspended.
- Speak to your Employer / Partners / Medical Director – keep them in the loop – it can only work in your favour to keep them updated and also tap into their support structures too.
- Call & register with NHS Practitioner Health (NHS PH) – who offer confidential NHS treatment for those doctors unable to access confidential care through mainstream routes.
- Call your union – BMA membership is very important for this reason – they can assist with contractual disputes and also run a BMA Doctor Support Service that can be of use to you.
- Contact the regulator – they may not be able to offer you much more information but it does not hurt to find out more from them if you can.
- Keep a diary of events – very important for appeals and any employment issues that arise.
- Use social media for support – there are a number of different Facebook support and information groups out there – including “Alternative Careers for Doctors” group and the Medics Footprints group as well.
- Call your bank/building society – they are often very helpful and will allow you a couple of months’ payment holiday for e.g. a couple of months from your mortgage if you have a good history with them, but it also means that if some payments cannot be made, they have a heads up as to why.
- Contact a medical charity – they are a range of helpful charities for doctors, medical students, healthcare professionals and their families, who provide financial support and advice. These include the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, Royal Medical Foundation and The Cameron Fund.
Physical / Emotional / Psychological health implications
- Use your GP – arrange an urgent appointment with them to explain what has happened – you can go into as little detail as you wish to about your case, but access local services, whether that be counselling or your GP themselves.
- Go through your Employer if appropriate – the NHS is a huge employer and so has good Occupational Health structure which you should try to utilise.
- Arrange a referral to a Psychologist / Mental Health Team as necessary – do not feel ashamed of your situation – many people have been through similar and you will find that most healthcare professionals will be helpful, even if they have not been through it personally.
- If you have an issue related to addiction consider contacting an organisation such as the Sick Doctors’ Trust – they were set up by people with addictions and were concerned at the lack of effective arrangements for helping others in similar situations.
- Contact the Medical Council on Alcohol – who are an independent charity dedicated to improving the understanding and management of alcohol-related health harm.
- You are not the only one – the tendency for most healthcare professionals who find themselves unable to work is to go off-radar and think this is only happening to them – it’s not. Thousands of doctors find themselves in this situation and just knowing someone out there is going through similar, can be a reassuring thought.
- There is not right or wrong way to deal with this – whichever way you choose to deal with it is the right way for you, but just knowing what resources are out there available to you can be a huge comfort – make use of what you feel comfortable with.
Alternative career and work options
One of the things that many health professionals fail to realise is the range of transferable skills they possess. Options to work in medicine may be temporarily or permanently halted, but the skills and experience you have learnt throughout your training and from working with patients and teams may be invaluable for a range of alternative work options.
You have highly honed communication skills from working with people from a range of backgrounds and educational levels; you are no doubt incredibly organised from having worked in high pressured, busy environments; by the very nature of your vocation to work in medicine you will be a compassionate, empathic individual who can connect with people.
Think about how these skills and attributes can serve you as you look for alternative careers and jobs either to tide you over or as an alternative long term career option.
The resources below give you some examples of how these skills can appear on your CV and link to the skills that many employers look for when seeking new staff.
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