How to Quit

By Sudhen Desai, MD

Quit  /kwit/


gerund or present participle: quitting

    1. leave (a place), usually permanently.

    “he was ordered to quit the cabin immediately”

    synonyms:      leave, vacate, exit, depart from, withdraw from; abandon, desert

Often, we are faced with the idea of “quitting”.   Beyond the dictionary definition above, quitting takes on many shapes and sizes. It could involve a conscious change in career trajectory.  It could involve reducing commitment to one position to allow growth in another.  Or, it could simply be cessation of a position with no back-up.  This latter, extreme position is reflected in the definition this post began with.

To quit something, in everyday parlance, tends to connote negatively.  However, as the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs has developed as an organization, we have begun to see quitting as a positive. Why? might you ask.  Quitting, at its core, reflects a desire for change.  Whether this change is driven by internal or external forces is a determination that the individual has to make, but it would be highly unlikely that change occurs in the absence of the desire for it. 

I often cite the same mantra when friends or trainees approach me with questions about changing positions or taking on new responsibility.  When you “quit” something, make sure you are quitting that position to allow yourself to move towards something that you are excited about.  Quitting as a mechanism of escaping (in professional environs) generally tends not to yield positive results. 

Think, for one second, of the early stories of the Zuckerbergs, Gates, Dells, Allens, etc.  Some sources estimate that one in four self-made billionaires are college drop-outs.  A desire to make the changes that they felt were important led to life-altering “quits”, if you will.  Do you think any one of these people were running from college?  On the contrary, their passions, and their desire to fix what they felt needed improvement, led them to make a significant decision.

Change is best effectuated from those with knowledge of the system they are trying to change. But that is what makes medicine so interesting – we ALL are armed with some level of medical knowledge – provider, payer or consumer…it’s hard to imagine any other industry where almost every individual participates, except perhaps food and clothing. 

This inherent desire within people for change can serve as a catalyst for idea development, maturation and commercialization.  The SoPE Board of Directors strongly believe that most ideas in the medical (and most any) space derive from pain points and frustration.  A person desiring change may find themselves with the opportunity to address that frustration, and perhaps initiate the change that they desire.  This usually occurs by some form of quitting.

Quitting can be a wonderful experience if a person is moving towards a new challenge, new position or addressing an internal frustration.  It can lead to wholesale life changes, or change on a smaller scale.  In either case, we consider quitting as a step towards problem-solving.  We encourage our membership to look to us to allow us to move forward in this exciting process with them, and hope that what is perceived as a negative can actually be shown to be a tremendous positive.

To your entrepreneurship

Sudhen B. Desai, MD