Preparation Eases Stress of Big Changes

Medical Post
Helping Hand Column, June 25, 2005

Simple steps can make moving and starting a new job more manageable

Q: I am just finishing my residency and moving to a new city to start a practice. I am nervous about starting in a new place and making friends. I remember feeling like this when I moved after medical school to start my residency. How can I make this transition easier?

A: Transition is never easy. This one that you are about to make is even harder than most, as there are many changes all at once—you will have a new job and new responsibilities in a new place, where you do not know anyone yet.

Change is hectic and stressful, but it can also be exciting and full of opportunity. Remember you are not alone; apparently one in five families moves every year, and manages to survive it.

Organization is a key factor to a successful move. Let’s look at what you can do before and after the move to make the transition easier.

Before the move

Make a list of factors you need to address, which can include:

  • Your stuff—sort through your belongings, pare down, give away items you do not need.
  • The move—do it yourself vs. hiring movers. Do comparison shopping. Book it.
  • Change of address—to family and friends, at the bank, magazines, credit card companies, investment firms, professionals, organizations, motor vehicle bureau. Ask the post office to redirect your mail.
  • Banking—close or transfer accounts to new location.
  • Insurance—reassess how your needs will change with increased income or new possessions and responsibilities.
  • Utilities—organize cut-off dates and arrange to start in the new home before you arrive.
  • Medical records—obtain from family doctor, dentist and vet, and arrange to have sent to new doctors.
  • Delivery services—discontinue delivery of newspapers, milk and diapers.
  • Clean out the fridge and freezer. Stop buying groceries and use up as much as you can. Give the rest away.
  • Keep records of your moving expenses. You may be able to deduct these expenses on your income tax return.

After the move

Be prepared to start your new position. Arrive at work early and show enthusiasm.

Hayes Specialist Recruitment offers a mnemonic for making a good first impression, IMPACT:

  • Instigate social activities after work
  • Manage your time effectively
  • Present yourself well
  • Ask questions
  • Contribute ideas
  • Think before you speak.

It is common for doctors to be shy and nervous about meeting new people in social situations. Our personality traits have been well described, and suggest that we feel insecure and inadequate, and like an “imposter,” waiting to be found out and exposed. Here are some tangible tips:

  • Remember that people like to meet someone new. You are new and interesting, and they do not judge you as harshly as you do yourself.
  • Remember that how you feel, your sense of insecurity, is not visible to others.
  • Tell people you are new, and ask them to recommend things and places for you.
  • Identify and pursue your own interests—try a class or group. You will meet others with whom you already have something in common. Go for a coffee with them after.
  • Ask people open-ended questions about themselves. They will like your interest and enjoy talking about themselves.
  • Allow others to get to know you.
  • Remember that you chose to move to this new place. Recall why you chose it, and look for these attributes consciously.

Mamta Gautam is an Ottawa psychiatrist who specializes in treating physician patients. If you have a question you would like addressed in this column, please contact Dr. Gautam at Please include “Helping Hand” in the subject line. All inquiries will be confidential. Your questions will not be replied to, but may be selected to be answered in this column, which is intended to be educational, not therapeutic.