I’ve spent my entire career in healthcare staffing, including the last 5 years as the president of a locum tenens agency. For me, the most rewarding part is helping people find the right job fit for whatever situation they find themselves in.

Most doctors work locum tenens on the side to make extra money. Some use it to gain additional experience, and others are looking for a way to see other parts of the country.

Sometimes, they know they just need something different. Getting a new environment, exploring fresh ideas, and/or exploring interesting opportunities are just the kick that a doctor needs to get moving.

The question I get asked a lot is, “How do I know when it’s time to move on?”

I’ve learned a couple warning signs:

  1. Stress and negative energy is coming home with you

Everybody has bad days. But are your bad days at work feeling more common than the good days? And more importantly, are they coming home with you and affecting relationships with family, friends, and yourself? This is a big indicator that your job might not be aligned with who you are. If the stressors and triggers can’t be fixed, it might be time to start looking for new opportunities.

  1. You dread going into work

While this is admittedly very similar to the first sign, I think it’s powerful enough to call out on its own. Feeling dread each morning is a strong indication that things may be troubled. Pay attention to how you feel and be brutally honest. The answer may tell you what you need to hear.

  1. You’re not you anymore

Jobs have a way of taking over. There are endless demands and requirements that can become overwhelming. When it feels like your job has taken over to the point that you don’t recognize yourself anymore, you may have a serious problem. If you’re feeling this way, you can start by reconnecting with your hobbies, passions, and interests. Maybe you’re just out of balance and bringing things back in line will correct your path. If that doesn’t help, explore your career options. A change of scenery might be just the ticket for rediscovering you.

  1. You’re taking a lot of sick days

They say doctors make the worst patients. Whether that’s true or not, as a doctor, you know that stress and depression can wreak havoc on a person’s immune system. So, it’s a great thing to keep track of. If you’re sick all the time, and it’s not just exposure to germs, it might be infection from the job itself—a definite sign it’s time to find health in another position.

  1. You’re making careless mistakes

Whether it’s at home or at work, if you find your mind wandering or your skills diminishing, it might be a result of lack of engagement. A change of scenery can help you get out of the rut you might not know you’re stuck in.

These are just a few of the most common ticks on the list we find from doctors looking for something else, even when they don’t realize that’s what they’re experiencing.

It all starts from looking inside yourself, and being honest about what you find. And finally, being willing to accept and act upon it.

Just because you’re unhappy with your job doesn’t mean you up and quit. That’s not what I’m saying. It’s when the unhappiness is negatively affecting your life and job that you should consider your options.

Whether it’s a new job that fits your goals, or giving locum tenens a try, you are empowered to take control of your career. Even if that means moving on.