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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34 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…

      • Pamela Wible MD says:

        I was only familiar with assembly-line prostitution until I met a woman who actually is more of a holistic healer than just a sex worker. She serves older men who’s wives have died. I have a lot of respect for her. It’s a job I could never do. There are also doctors who have been killed by patients so let’s not generalize Bele. Revenge Killing: Mental Patient Stabs To Death Psychiatrist Who Had Him Committed.

  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….

    • P says:

      Very inspiring to read that!

    • nancy ann walters says:

      I hung in there until the stress of nursing kicked off an autoimmune reaction. At work one day, the next day could not even dress myself. Have been on disability for 20 years. Have had the rebels snap in my hand. Horrible, hideous arthritis, with renal failure, now at stage 3.
      I left a low paying hospital that treated nurses well, for one that paid almost double, but worshipped the medical staff.
      If something went wrong, the administration’s focus was, “What did you do wrong? Even before the situation was examined.
      At first it was just pain, here and there. Sore muscles after a tense shift. Then, back pain. Up until I could not move at all. Once out, in actually had some recovery, but not enough to return. And eventually, got weaker, so that I need a walker.
      I personally avoid ever going into a certain big box hardware store, because their founder was on the board of the hospital, and micromanaged every department in that hospital. Including the Nursing Dept. There are only 3 nurses I worked with that still work there, and their reason for staying is for a bigger pension. Each one has told me they are scared they will get sick like I did.

  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. Rita Losee, ScD, RN says:

    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. Lucy Hornstein says:

    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.)

  12. michele says:

    RN since 1991 here. I took a year off after my last job and I’m currently working as a package handler. I’m treated better as a factory worker than I was as a nurse. Amazon! treated me better than most hospitals did. The benefits are better, the management is better, and when I was told “it’s your PTO, you can use it how you please” it’s a wonder I didn’t fall over from shock.

    I probably should get back into nursing (1 year off is now going on 2) but I just don’t want to. Even the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach.

  13. Patricia Norris says:

    U have not posted since 2017 – how about do NOT send this demented patient to Er because he just pulled out his foley catheter and split his penis into and he is “bleeding” you can’t sew it back up – he’s just going to come back with VRE,MRSA, and ESBL in his wound and more confused. You don’t like that answer – then call his family and say that blood is spurting everywhere and that mean ole nurse Practitioner said he just got back from ER at 3 this morning and they reassured you he is not bleeding to death. So don’t send him out again- she has an appt for him with qualified urologist that he will not see the n ER- ER is going to see bacteria in his urine- give him a dx of exclusion – uti (gathered fromUA not culture) send him back on iv antibiotics- he just finished 10 daysof IV abts and now we are going to give him this new strain of c diff that no longer responds to Flagyl or Vanco and he will be pooping right into his urethra since it is completely exposed because you did not listen to me last night when I said don’t send him out and you did anyway and caused more confusion and him pulling everything out – so you call the DOCTOR who has never laid eyes on this or knows nothing about his confusion and he agrees with you even though he knows the man is not going to bleed out from a traumatic hypospadias woynd but he has to be the hero – I hate being an NP

  14. Kellie Falls says:

    This is sad but true. It’s sad we’re put under so much stress to care for people that we ruin our (already scarce) days off feeling nauseous because we know we’ll have to go back eventually.
    It should not be this stressful to care for a sick person, but sue-happy attorneys and greedy healthcare companies have ensured that this will be the case for the foreseeable future. I’ve been a nurse for 25 years and am now back in school to pursue a career-any career- that does not include nursing. Does anyone else see how pathetic this is?

  15. Cynthia Pisowicz says:

    If you’re unhappy with what you’re doing to earn a living. .LEAVE!!! Dissatisfaction with a job can affect anyone. Praying for cancer, jealous of hospice patients & suicidal. .on the job pain scale ~Aren’t funny captions to me (i.e. Whoever wrote this website should not only get out of working in the healthcare field, you should seek psychiatric treatment. Someday you may get your wish & be diagnosed with cancer, be a hospice patient or attempt suicide. If not you, perhaps a loved one will experience these things).

  16. KimAnne says:

    Hi Pamela, even though I live in Eugene, have several in common friends and am a FB follower I have not seen this before. I was asked to resign my nursing position this week because i took too my time with my patients (home health). I was going to email you as I am considering private duty. All of the above was pretty true for me and I’m not sorry that I was asked to resign. Just waiting for the Universe to show the next move. Hope you are well and happy. Kim Anne

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Oh no. So very sorry though I can say not having my contract renewed at my last employed position was the BEST thing that ever happened in my career! I’d never be as happy as I am now. Things DO get better. Way better!

  17. L.T says:

    NP who left a great boss with great work life balance because I was needing student loan repayment. Took a job I thought would be a great fit and now I hate my life. In fact, I dont even want to practice anymore because I’m treated horrible by new supervising physician and I’ve reported it and it gets worse. So, I’ve shut down and looking for ways out, except there isn’t one without having to pay back the bonus money and relocation allowance. Sick of getting yelled at told I’m stupid. Administration does nothing. I’m at a 10.

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