10 signs it’s time to quit your job

Job Pain Scale Crop

Attention all nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, doctors and anyone else in health care: here are the top 10 warning signs that it is time to quit your job. The first three are mine. The rest are from colleagues. If you recognize anything on this list, please quit your job. 

10. You feel nauseated when you see your clinic logo. You alter your commute to avoid streets with your clinic’s billboard.

9. Discouraged by the general despair among clinic staff, you try to be joyful. Then you’re reprimanded by the clinic manager for being “excessively happy.”

8. You dream of leaving medicine to work as a waitress. 

7. You envy your sickest patients and/or you develop a perverse pleasure in your patients’ pain.

6. You pray you will be diagnosed with cancer so you can get some time to sleep.

5. You spend your nights trying to keep patients alive while you imagine ways to die by suicide.

4. You work 16-24 hour shifts and have not had sex with your spouse in months.

3. You are a top-rated doctor, yet you daydream about walking into traffic, jumping through the window, or just dying in the course of a normal day.

2. You are counting down the days until retirement during patient appointments.

1. You change your computer password to “fuck [name of hospital where you work]!!!”


So where are you on the job pain scale?

Job Pain Scale Faces


If you’re job sucks & you’re still afraid to quit, watch this video now.

Need help? Join our teleseminar this Sunday.


Pamela Wible, M.D., is a practicing physician and founder of the ideal medical care movement. View her TEDMED talk Why doctors kill themselves. Attend our upcoming retreat and learn how you can stop suffering and start loving medicine again. 

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25 comments on “10 signs it’s time to quit your job
  1. Tonya says:

    Done them all. Prostitution has better work life benefits.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Exactly the experience of my patient who is a sex worker. Though you can’t beat being a self-employed doc. Way better than assembly-line medicine!

    • Bele says:

      When I had to get urinalysis recently for my new job I accidentally saw one of those cool emergency medical shows. Except it wasn’t cool because the patient was a middle aged black woman who looked like she could be my mom. She was a prostitute and the top of her head was split right open to the skull because her “customer” disagreed with her fee after his “service” was completed. Get real about the lives of women being bought for sex and the men who force sex on them. If you really want that life there plenty of corners for you to stand on. As absurd as the dog walker scam…

  2. Winter says:

    I appreciate your website and support for all physcians. Id like to start my own clinic by summer and would love to get some tips.

  3. Shanhong Lu says:

    YES! 11 years ago, I was sick and tired literally.
    11 years later working 1 day a week and doubled my income and now traveling to teach physicians to make a new medicine working smarter, better in groups….

  4. Anita says:

    All of my work passwords are EMRsucks1, EMRsucks2, EMRsucks3, etc now on EMRsucks8. And, I don’t go to the biggest, closest to my home, most beautiful gym in town because it is owned by my clinic/hospital employer and I have to see the logo and that would more than counteract any benefit of exercise!

  5. Kris Parnicky, MD says:

    Love your job pain scale. I score a 3. Thanks Pamela

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Ah! No time for sex. I’ll never forget my family medicine board prep practice book had a question about the most common cause of low libido in women: answer was C = FATIGUE!!!!

  6. Jami Gonzales says:

    Yes, I have thought about leaving healthcare. I usually avoid the town that I work in, PTSD! But, I have decided to be happy, a new job, a happier life!

  7. Masterful! Love the so obvious link to a scale so very familiar to all of us. I disagree with the definition of No Pain. When I feel I am working in conditions that require a “fake smile,” I am actually in pain. Much better for everyone than working with an angry glower on my face, but still painful.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      You are correct. fake smile may also cove up some pain though I believe some are trying to pretend that all is fine & dandy. They somehow convince themselves that they are not in pain.

  8. Oh dear. I guess I’m in the negative numbers: Real smile. Excited to come to work…early, even! Greet my patient with a smile, leave them with a hug. Only for the last 27 years, though. Just because physician dissatisfaction is all too prevalent doesn’t mean it’s ubiquitous.

  9. Jasmine says:

    I feel really tired of big box Medicine. I feel like no one cares that we have to see 20-22 pts a day and then are told *our numbers need to improve*. Our nurse manager fired over 20nurses in the last 18mos. Our big hospital administrators came in and told our clinic docs we could not fire her. She just needs more leadership training and maybe we are part of the problem…this place makes me sick to my stomach. I’m inspired by your website and need more info to start my own clinic. I want more compassion for patients and employees. And I want to focus on a more holistic approach.

  10. Nishanthie Dolage says:

    I love your job pain scale . Getting insight before it is too late is always helpful to oneself and others .I too am going to give up my permanent post and going to enjoy my life doing part time work . One can always get rich by earning more or reducing one’s spending ( I prefer this method ) , Leading a simple life is the best.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Yes. I am a huge fan of voluntary simplicity.

      • P says:

        Me too. I’ve purposefully avoided creating an expensive lifestyle after residency. However, the med school loans keep me from feeling free enough to leave the assembly line medicine machine life for now.

        I have to admit that I’m one of the lucky ones and have been able to create a part-time admin / part-time clinical position. Even though I’m not on the productivity model, I still hit the radars for being a “problem” because my volume is well below the MGMA 50th percentile. I tried for 5 years to figure out how to see 24 patients a day and practice the type of medicine I want to and never got close (20 a few times).

        I’m most comfortable doing a very good job seeing 10 – 15 patients a day. On those days I go home with my charts finished. I’m happy. My patients are happy; and, my nurse is happy. BUT, the bean counters are not happy and only see my “problem behavior.”

        It works for now because the pay is good, I can play doctor a couple days a week and I enjoy a lot of my admin activities. However, I know my calling is to be a doctor/teacher/healer and help people through the difficult times in their life.

        Thank you for lighting a path for those of us are bent on bringing joy back to healthcare.

  11. Pamela Wible MD says:

    From my physician friend:

    Here’s another way for doctors to know it’s time to quit their jobs.

    My cell phone rang today and the caller ID came up as “House of Pain”–because that is how I saved my work number from my previous job in my contacts when I was working there! I should have known the day I changed it from its real name to House of Pain that it was time to get the fuck out!

    (Sidebar: They called me to ask if I wanted my old job back because the guy who took my place is leaving.

    Between the “House of Pain” reminder and the ridiculous question posed to me, I could hardly stop laughing enough to answer.

    I think they got the idea I was declining their offer.)

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