I have a job.


I mean, it’s great to be done with training (or almost done — six months to go!) I started on this journey a dozen years ago, in January 2006, when I began studying for the MCAT. It’s been a doozy of ups and downs along the way.

There has been nothing more doozy-ing than the academic medicine job market, let me tell you.

I had very specific goals in mind for a job. I had to have movement disorders. And I had to have narrative medicine. So what I did, in early 2017, was make a list of all the academic centers that had both.

It was a small list.

Then I reached out to them individually last spring, a sort of pre-application inquiry. Like, hey, are you hiring?

One place had just hired a movement specialist the year before, so no go. Lots of places were looking for more traditional research-oriented physicians, not educators, so no go. It was stressful and dispiriting. I ate a lot of cookies.

Slowly, though, better news started filtering through. I got interviews. (Fun fact: on faculty interviews, they pay for everything! It’s an actual recruitment!) Magically, somehow, I had two offers roll in at close to the same time.

I read Getting to Yes, which multiple people had recommended to me as a “how to negotiate” book. The biggest take-away I got from it was that negotiation is about finding out where your priorities align. As someone with an inherently relational worldview, this made a lot of sense.


In my heart, there was one place where I really, really wanted to be; they were the clear front-runners since the beginning of this process. They had an opening. They had a humanities center. They had a tenure pathway for clinician-educators. I knocked the job talk out of the park. (Detailed how-to-job-talk post later.) We found multiple (multiple!) areas of alignment. The details of the offer were basically crafted around using my strengths to fill their needs. Things were looking good. I was prepared to sign. I started looking at houses on Trulia.


Something deeply deeply shitty happened. I don’t want to get into specifics, but it was confirmation of a suspected terrible pattern of behavior. I tried to set it aside for a week, pretend it didn’t happen, but I couldn’t. It was a really big deal. It was a deal-breaker.

So, I cried a lot, and then took the other offer. Then I called people at the first place, and told them, and cried even more as soon as I hung up the phone. For days after, I kept having to run out of the shared fellows’ office at clinic and go hide in the stairwell so I could cry.

That was two weeks ago. I’m no longer crying every five minutes, but I still feel really, really sad about it, especially when I tell people where I’ll be headed. Because I want to be able to say, “I’m going to FirstPlace.” I’m trying to think about all the positive things about the place I’m actually going. There are plenty of positives!

But still.

I guess what I’m trying to say, for anyone looking for advice, is not to get emotionally attached to anything in this freakish environment known as academic medicine.