My Wrenching Decision to Leave Medicine

Dana Corriel, MD


February 26, 2020

Editor's Note: The first part of this article is based on a series of Tweets the author sent out to announce her decision to leave medicine.

I'll open this confession up with a famous quote, to warm things up and soften the blow. It's a quote I remind myself of daily:

"Making a big life change is pretty scary. But you know what's scarier? Regret."

So here goes my 2020 New Year's confession: I've left clinical medicine.

While it's taken a lot of deep breaths (and several unbearably painful yoga poses) for me to post this, I need to do it to move on. But I haven't given up on the healthcare field. I am simply "reinventing" what I can do to impact it. Sound sci-fi? It isn't. It's my reality.

As you know, healthcare is broken.

For me, it was no longer a feasible option to stay practicing within it, as a primary care doctor, the way it's headed. I absolutely loved my patients, and the relationships I made, but I was no longer in control or truly making decisions. I predict that if change isn't made, more doctors will follow suit.

But here's the silver lining: I have started to make a difference. I learned how to leverage the "online" (a reference to the Upside Down, for those Stranger Things fans among you). I've created a startup that's already gained incredible momentum in just three years of existence, and I'm now striving to make a difference the best way I can—using my creativity and the skills I've sharpened over this past decade.

Will I make it? Who knows. I'll sure try. But if I don't, it's OK, because I have optimism—and passion—on my side. I'll just get up and try again.

I'll be exploring my new world and sharing it online with new lenses (ones I never wore because I was never as passionate about learning as I am now), taking others with me to meet new people, hear cool ideas, and soak up exciting experiences.

Today, I am committing myself to the pursuit of innovation through entrepreneurship. To learn everything I can about what's out there, that I've never seen before. To take others with me.

My Decision Affects Many

After I published my "confession" on social media, there was, understandably, a lot of interest in what I had done. I had succeeded in generating "buzz." 

How had I channeled the necessary "courage" to leave such a coveted position— medical doctor—and what in heaven's name did I plan to do? People have inquiring minds and they wanted to know.

Although I do have answers in place for such queries, I think the bigger question I have, and one which I'm rather surprisingly not finding myself fielding, is why I left in the first place.

It's amazing that none of my physician audience asked. It's this very fact that serves as a testament to the state of healthcare. They didn't ask because they already know. The threat of malpractice suits, burdens related to electronic health records, intrusion by insurers, and other reasons plague all physicians today.


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