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There may come a point in your career as a sessional GP, at least if you are employed in a salaried capacity, when you find it’s time to move on from your current job. It can be quite a hard move to make.
Leaving any job is like breaking up any long-term relationship. Just like staying in an unhappy marriage, it is easier to stay in an unhappy job than to move on, especially since it involves working a notice period and having to maintain a working relationship with your work colleagues once you’ve announced your plan to leave. But just as staying in an unhappy marriage because it’s harder to let go can take its toll on your health, so too can working in an unhappy job.
Put yourself first
Is the job affecting your health? – are you becoming depressed, anxious, dreading work, not sleeping, snappy or irritable? If yes to any of these, it might be worth seeing your own GP to talk things through. These symptoms are a sure sign that you need to do something.
The BMA provides counselling and a ‘Doctor for Doctors’ Advisor Service. In addition, your local medical committee (LMC) may run a local mentor scheme.
To go or not to go
Don’t make a decision when you’ve had one bad day or one bad week. Weigh up the pros and cons about whether to resign- are you unhappy? Are you starting to feel resentful /abused/exploited/ undervalued/overworked/burnt out? If you answer yes to all of these it’s probably time to leave.
If you are a BMA member, contact them to talk through contractual and employment implications
Have you got limited opportunities in your current job to develop yourself/further your career? – Do you feel stifled/ not using your qualifications and experience/ frustrated/ afraid of becoming de-skilled?
Talk to peers, talk to your significant other and family.
Is there any chance of things improving? Could things be changed at your place of work to make things more bearable, or even enjoyable? It is worth contacting your LMC/ BMA to consider options.
Do you have a job to go to? Is it possible for you to leave without a definite job? Are there sessional work opportunities locally? Locum work/ out of hours to cover the gap before you find something else permanent? Speak to other sessional GPs to see what’s out there. Go to your local sessional GP meetings and do some networking. There are lots of ways of working as a sessional GP and some that you might not even be aware of.
Do you need a reference? Are there people you could rely on for a reference from other jobs that you do/have done?
Can you afford a gap without income? Consider the effects on continuity of your NHS service/ pension.
Applying for jobs before telling your employer you are planning to leave
You may not want to say anything to your current employer until you have a new job secured. Do you have annual leave left to use for interviews? Or if part-time, can you arrange them for your day off?
The resignation letter
Keep it brief and to the point if you don’t want to burn your bridges or jeopardise references however a brief resignation letter could negate your ability to claim constructive dismissal (as can working your notice period) so it is really important that if you are having a tough time at work particularly if you are feeling victimised or being treated less favourably then you should contact the BMA at the earliest opportunity.
Be prepared for being begged to stay
Be prepared for not being begged to stay
Notice – how much do you need to give? – check your contract
You may be able to take any unused holiday at the end to make the notice period shorter (holiday is approved at the discretion of the employer) – don’t be forced into covering holidays
Be prepared for your notice period being awkward and potentially unpleasant. Be prepared to feel guilty and to dread work even more than before you resigned.
Keep focused on your new job and new opportunities.
The author of this blog is a working sessional GP, who wishes to remain anonymous
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Looks like the notice period is 3 months
Can you resign with immediate effect