What’s Next? When Doctors Lose Their Passion for Medicine…

Dr. Christal Asong Vinsien always wanted to be a doctor. She was smart and did very well in school. She wanted to make her parents’ proud and intended to make a difference in people’s lives. What better profession to accomplish this than becoming a doctor, right? Wrong! Upon getting into the HO training, it dawned on her that she had lost her passion for clinical medicine. Today she’s a mindset coach and has an online training program called Awaken Academy.

Several factors were responsible for Dr Vinsien’s loss of heart for clinical medicine. For one thing, while waiting for her HO posting she went into an e-commerce business with her brother. It was here that her eyes were opened to a new way of living her career life. She felt trapped in the hospital system as if she were in a limited world with very few possibilities.

She simply didn’t enjoy the quality of life she was experiencing in the hospital. The rigid work hours and the workload restricted her idea of living a fulfilled life and she experienced burnout and tiredness. Her decision-making ability was also hindered by senior doctors making all the clinical decisions. As a result, she felt she could not grow in an such environment.

“Why do I have to tie myself to this job [at the hospital] just because of a degree. If I really want to make a difference and impact people’s lives, there are other ways to do it!”

The job also severely curtailed her personal freedom and autonomy. She felt like she was suffocating and drowning in a system where her existence mattered little. It was as if she ceased to exist as a person at the hospital. The life she led simply didn’t speak to her heart.

Dr. Vinsien’s Move Out of Clinical Medicine

Dr Vinsien was a naturally curious person and loved learning and trying out new things. This was so different from clinical medicine which offered a set pathway and confined doctors to one specialty. She began to reason with herself, “Why do I have to tie myself to this job just because of a degree? If I really want to make a difference and impact people’s lives, there are other ways to do it!”

Doctors will be able to zero-in on a career that’s right for them when they try things out.”

Dr. Christal Asong Vinsien

After about four months of soul searching, she felt that a career in a nonclinical field might be better suited for her. Her professor at the University of Malaya suggested that she consider bioethics as her field of study. She applied and was accepted to do her Masters in Bioethics in Belgium. It was this development that gave her the courage to resign from government service while she was a HO at the Serdang Hospital. She had something to fall back on now and her critics wouldn’t have much to say about her quitting the HO training.  

You Won’t Know What You’re Passionate About Until You Try Things Out

Dr. Vinsien believes that doctors will never know what they love, what they’re good at, what they’re passionate about until they try things out. There is a lack of information about other professions in medical education and training. By gaining exposure to other careers, doctors can weigh in on whether a particular career is right for them and if they’re passionate about it.

 “The only way to figure things out is to try things out. Doctors will be able to zero-in on a career that’s right for them when they try things out.” If a doctor merely relies on life’s circumstances without fulfilling his/her inner desires and purpose in life, he/she will live a routinized, vegetative existence.

Taking her own advice to heart, while waiting for her Masters program to commence, Dr Vinsien started a YouTube channel. There was insufficient information on what House Officers who had left clinical medicine could do in terms of alternative career pathways. Many also did not know how to handle the mixed emotions of leaving the service and facing the medical fraternity that often looked down on those who resigned from government service.

Changing Mindsets

She wanted to help doctors who were struggling with the same issues and problems she had suffered, and questions just started pouring in to her YouTube channel. It appeared that many young doctors were going through the same dilemma she had lived through.

“There’s always another way to live a more fulfilling life. You just need to overcome that one hurdle of social conditioning and all the unnecessary expectations that family and society place upon you.”

As a doctor’s identity is closely tied to his/her profession, when doctors leave clinical medicine many experience a loss of identity. The medical fraternity, family, and society tend to shun them for leaving the profession. This was Dr. Vinsien’s motivation for uploading her videos on YouTube. She wanted to do her part in breaking this awful cycle! She wanted to help change the mindsets of these suffering doctors!

Your Degree Doesn’t Have to Dictate the Rest of Your Life

Many doctors who connected with Dr. Vinsien did not have a backup when it came time to leave the civil service. Some were fence-sitters about quitting their job. They asked her for her advice, and she gave it. That’s when the idea came to her about starting a platform or a course to cater to the many young doctors who were contemplating the major decision of quitting clinical medicine. So, she started her mindset coaching business and her Awaken Academy online training program.

“We’ve been conditioned to think about what we ought to study, what sort of profession we need to get into but, we’ve never been taught to know ourselves – who we are and what we want in life.”

 “There’s always another way to live a more fulfilling life. You just need to overcome that one hurdle of social conditioning and all the unnecessary expectations that family and society place upon you. Your degree doesn’t have to confine you to this one field and dictate the rest of your life!” says Dr. Vinsien. She noted that there are other ways of serving humanity without becoming a doctor.

Steps To Take When You Lose Your Passion for Medicine

“We’ve been conditioned to think about what we ought to study, what sort of profession we need to get into but, we’ve never been taught to know ourselves – who we are and what we want to do in life”, says Dr. Vinsien. When doctors lose their passion for medicine, there are some steps that they could follow to identify what they really want in life. According to Dr. Vinsien, it’s important for a doctor to:

  • Ask what he/she really, really, wants out of life,
  • Know his/her values because those values influence our decisions in life,
  • Have a sense of purpose in life or Ikigai. Ikigai involves the four principles of knowing: i)what we love to do, ii)what we’re good at, iii)what the world needs and, iv)what we can be paid for. The intersection between these four principles is reasonably where a doctor’s future lies and where he/she must head towards.
  • Realize that doctors will never identify the right career until they try things out and finally,
  • Be courageous and take that leap of faith when it’s clear that he/she knows what want to do with their lives!

Dr. Vinsien notes that “taking a leap of faith” is an underrated phrase. “We all know what we need to do, we know what we love but we’re afraid to take the leap of faith because of the uncertainties in our future. But there is magic in taking a leap of faith!” she said.

The barrier that keeps doctors from taking the leap of faith is fear. Humans experience fear of the unknown, of being judged and criticized, of not being good enough etc. But once doctors have crossed the fear barrier, once doctors are definite about what they want to do with their lives, “SOMETHING WILL CATCH YOU WHEN YOU TAKE THAT LEAP OF FAITH! Things will naturally unfold in your favor, but you must take that leap of faith!” exclaimed Dr. Vinsien emphatically. This is the magic she was referring to.

What’s Next for Dr. Vinsien?

While waiting for her Masters program to commence, Dr. Vinsien was a medical intern at a healthcare ethics law firm. She had been considering a career in academics to make a difference in the life of her students. But she feels a pull towards making a difference in the life of young doctors. She feels drawn to helping young doctors with their struggles. She knows she’ll be able to give them clarity about their purpose in life and help make their dreams come true.

“We all know what we need to do, we know what we love but we’re afraid to take a leap of faith because of uncertaintiees…”

“But if I want to teach, why do I want to confine myself to an institution of higher learning? Why not build my own business and teach what I know at the same time? As I learn and grow as a person and in my field, why can’t I teach others and give to them out of my learning?” she asked.

So, while Dr Vinsien is contemplating her next move, be it the pursuit of a masters degree or the pursuit of her mindset coaching business, she is pouring her heart out helping young doctors with their career struggles. She wants them to see the light of what’s next for them. In her mind, this may be the very thing that gives her A PURPOSE-FILLED LIFE.

“But there’s magic in taking a leap of faith….Something will catch you when you take a leap of faith!”

This career has helped her to make a difference with her community of doctors. It has also given her the autonomy and freedom she craves. It will enable her to keep on learning and satisfying her curious self. At this moment in time, her heart is moving in the direction of her mindset coaching and her Awaken Academy online training.

MFM wishes Dr Vinsien the very best in all her career plans!  She will surely excel in all that she sets out to do because she has a heart for humanity!

Dr Christal Asong Vinsien will be our June Diverse Careers for Doctors Webinar speaker. She’s also attending our Diverse Careers for Doctors Summit on August 20, 2022. Click here to learn more!

To find out more about non-clinical jobs for doctors in Malaysia check out our job vacancy and find inspiration from medical doctors who’ve made a career change in our case studies. Check out Medic Footprints Malaysia , and follow our MF Malaysia Instagram and Facebook pages to stay updated on our events, webinars, job vacancies and more.

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