Simone’s OncOpinion

Career development observations and advice for medical professionals from Dr. Joseph V. Simone.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Institutions Don’t Love You Back!

Welcome to my new blog about career development for medical professionals!  Comments are very welcome since the broad experience of readers overall may be helpful to individual readers who are facing their own difficult situations or decisions.

In 1999 I wrote a paper and later a book (Simone’s Maxims) about trying to navigate one’s way through an academic medical center in the course of developing a career. The first maxim is the one I get the most comments about. Here it is in its entirety:

Institutions don’t love you back. This first maxim may sound cynical, but the relationship between any employee and the institution is impersonal and contractual, whether written or not. Institutional leaders must make decisions that are not personal, but that usually have positive or negative personal consequences. One cannot expect the same consideration as one may receive in a family.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it is surprising how often even middle managers and full professors believe they deserve special consideration because of loyalty, longevity, or past productivity. A wise colleague once told me that the best job security was the ability to move to another job (because of one’s skills or professional independence).

One must keep in mind that institutional relationships are really with persons, who can and sometimes do love you back. My fondest memories of places I’ve been are of co-workers and patients, not “the institution.” If they moved on, my attachment moved with them. For any one of us, good co-workers and solid leaders make what we value in the institution. Recognizing them, what they do for us and the values they represent, are far more important than loyalty to an impersonal institution.