If you are thinking about making a career transition, you probably have a "gut" feeling of what you want to do. But often doctors go against that gut feeling accepting the first non-clinical job offer that comes their way, and neglecting important priorities.
Before you spend time (or money) searching for a new career path, it is useful to sit back and objectively rank your priorities from most important to least important so that you can see in clear terms what you really value in your career.
If you are considering a change, you need to make sure that you transition to a job that still gives you the job characteristics that you rank at the top of your list.
One of the huge advantages of being a doctor is that you have choices.
As a physician, you are a highly educated and trained medical professional who carries the most prestigious educational qualification—and you have earned a highly sought after license to take care of patients when they have medical problems. Yet there is no reason that any doctor should be limited to a particular career blueprint.
If you want to take a professional path that allows you to achieve your professional and personal priorities, you have a variety of options.
*Dr. Snyder is a clinically busy gastroenterologist who is very active and influential on local hospital committees and boards. A private practice physician in a group of 8, he has built strong relationships with the senior level hospital administration and has been able to negotiate a convenient and optimal scheduling process for his group's procedures. He also oversees a strong financial arrangement at the hospitals where his group has privileges. He has a great deal of influence on the group practice decisions as well as on hospital wide decisions.
*Dr. Perez is a nephrologist who runs three clinics with adjoining outpatient treatment facilities. He employs 68 staff members, 7 of whom are physicians. Dr. Perez no longer sees patients and he personally manages all of the contracting with payers. He has had to deal with costly staff turnover at the busiest of his facilities due to mismanagement of staff relations by one of the mid level managers. While morale is down at that location, revenue has remained healthy. He is working on adding clinical research services to his business as another revenue stream.
*Dr. Levine is a family practice doctor who works part-time for a private group in a suburb of a medium city. She does not manage financial contracts and has arranged for a convenient schedule and a modest part-time salary. She knows many of her patients from the neighborhood or from her children's school and she is loved by her patients and by the staff, who always strive to make her day go smoothly.
*Dr. Lee is a neurologist who has a full-time tenured appointment at a major university. She has obtained research grants and runs a basic science research lab, occasionally consulting for pharmaceutical companies. Her work consists of about 10-20% patient care, with the remainder of her time devoted to research and teaching.
*Dr. Lamii is a surgeon who worked full-time for a start up medical device manufacturer after obtaining an MBA a few years into practice. He worked on the financial side of the company for three years, and was laid off after the company was purchased by another company. He then took a job as the head of scientific communications for a pharmaceutical company and has generous vacation time, works remotely, and earns a salary equivalent to the 50th percentile of physicians in his specialty.
*Dr. Stucco is an OBGYN who no longer practices medicine and works as a full-time administrator in a medium sized suburban hospital. She has already changed professional administrative titles twice in the past 3 years, and, while she loves her job and is compensated generously, she does not have a guaranteed position for more than one year at a time.
*Dr. Johnson is a PMNR specialist who holds a full-time job working for a national publisher. He edits medical books, educational videos and medical research articles. He also works with several medical schools on curriculum development.
*Dr. Kumar is a pediatrician who is one of 20 partners in med/peds group that covers 5 hospitals over a large geographic region. The financial reimbursement of each doctor in the group is based on volume. Dr. Kumar is proud that she works between 10-12 hours per day, seeing patients whenever the office is open. She takes more call than most of her partners, as the reimbursement for call is generous and straightforward, and some of her partners prefer not to take weekend and night call. She also takes emergency room shifts about twice per month. She is very happy with her arrangement and is building a large patient base.
*Dr. Halgon is an internist who has just opened her own medi-spa as part of a medi-spa franchise. She plans to rent an adjacent space and to add more medical services and a fitness center to her business within the next 2 years.
Do you see yourself in any of the above stories? Or do you see a completely different career trajectory for yourself? One of the strategies I often tell doctors to use in constructing a realistic career path is building a narrative. Write a few paragraphs describing your own ideal bio 2 years from now so that you will have a defined objective in your sight as you work towards building your career.
Explore nonclinicaldoctors.com to find job openings, and company links and to learn more about the methods you can use to reach your goals as you work towards making your ideal professional bio a reality. Or use Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine to learn the details behind each type of non-clinical position.
As an added incentive for yourself- send your future bio to nonclinicaldoctors.com today and then send in your story in 2 years to be featured as a physician success story!
Doctors often wonder about whether a non-clinical job could offer more work-life balance, more autonomy, a better income, or more job satisfaction than clinical practice.
In the changing healthcare climate, non-clinical work may be a better fit for some doctors. But it is important to examine the characteristics of non-clinical jobs before assuming that they may offer what you are looking for.
How to know if a non-clinical job is the right solution for you
I hear from doctors from all over the country every day.
The physicians who reach out to me are feeling beaten down and having trouble keeping their heads above water. Many doctors tell me that clinical work used to be rewarding, but that high quality patient care is becoming incompatible with the increasing financial and regulatory requirements demanded by employers and payers. Most established physicians don't want to settle for lower quality patient care, and faced with a difficult dilemma, thousands of physicians think about changing direction.
Young physicians who are still in the midst of residency training often have a gut feeling that a career centered on direct patient care is not the right fit. And medical students frequently contact me- already considering applying for non-clinical jobs straight out of medical school, instead of applying for residency.
But is the grass really greener in non-clinical medicine? It all depends on what you want to get out of your work.
*Are you looking to escape from excessively documenting every detail of your patient care by transitioning into the non-clinical world? You can finally achieve that with some non-traditional medical jobs in areas such as medical writing and chart review, but you can drown in a different type of documentation.
In fact, many non-clinical positions essentially entail a whole day of documentation or reviewing another health care provider's documentation. Of course, if you work in a non-clinical role, the documentation portion of the job is work that you will be paid for, in contrast to clinician medicine, which requires documentation as a prerequisite to reimbursement for patient care.
Pride in What You Do
When you move into the non-clinical aspects of medicine, you could be put in charge of reducing cost, trying to get a new device approved, or running a non-profit. If you believe in the integrity of your cost containment strategies, the safety and efficacy of the device, or the value of the non-profit, you may feel even more pride and satisfaction in your work than you did in patient care. But if you find yourself forced to communicate in ways that you do not believe in, you could end up craving the integrity of patient care.
*Money is a vital component of any job. A number of non-clinical options offer stellar compensation if you can demonstrate your value. On the other hand, some non-clinical jobs offer salaries equal to or even lower than your job as a practicing physician. See Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine for more information about salaries of non-clinical jobs.
Emotions at work
All jobs have the potential to be highly volatile. Clinical medicine, however, requires a particularly cool head and an ability to calm others down amid the fear of a bad diagnosis and the stress of unpredictability. On the average, day-to-day work in the non-clinical arena is more predictable and less frequently fraught with emotionally unstable interactions.
One of the biggest complaints that doctors express is the growing sense that someone is 'looking over your shoulder' and second guessing everything you do. Industry is inherently designed to be much less autonomous than medicine. This is an important consideration to keep in mind if you want to transition out of patient care. The frustration of what you consider to be excessive and superfluous oversight may follow you in the non-clinical arena as well.
Find out more about the reality of non-clinical jobs for doctors and learn how to make yourself a strong candidate for the job that is most suitable for you by exploring nonclinicaldoctors.com or Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine.
A physician's career is no longer limited to patient care, as it once was. Almost 50% of US medical students envision themselves doing some amount of non-clinical work. There are a variety of ways that doctors can make a great impact. Doctors now can take on jobs with a wider range of responsibilities and can enjoy more roles outside of the clinical setting than ever before. Over the course of a physician's career, an evolving professional structure allows a physician to use a medical background to lead healthcare, influence public policy, educate the public, and cure disease.
Doctors can change the course of medicine
When doctors who want to change direction learn about the alternatives and the right routes to achieve their goals, non-clinical physicians can move the course of medicine in the right direction for patients and for practicing physicians. The physician career pathway may not always involve exclusively clinical practice. Doctors who are itching for a change can have a tremendously positive impact on health care and on the world as a whole while achieving new career goals.
Find out if you need to change your career path by re-evaluating your goals and learn how to make the transition if that is the right course of action for you.
Non-clinical work is undoubtedly becoming a direction that more and more young physicians want to take. Given the lack of formal preparation for this path, if you are considering a non-clinical job at any time in the future, you must take the initiative to understand what you have to do to best position yourself for a job in the medical field that is not centered on patient care. Explore nonclinicaldoctors.com and Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine to learn where non-clinical jobs are and to become the best candidate for a nonclinical position.
Doctors who are unhappy with their work environment can end up feeling trapped.
If you are dissatisfied in clinical practice, it is important to know your options so that you won't miss out on opportunities that could be a better fit for you. Your practice setting may be inefficient, unprofessional, or toxic. If that is the case, you should remember that you are in demand, you can find another job, and you are not trapped.
You are not trapped in a health care career that you do not want. There are options out there.
Solutions Based Approach to Medical Career Problems
It seems to be a recent trend in the media to feature stories of doctors who are going broke, being driven to despair, and quitting what used to be viewed as an altruistic and rewarding profession. The news articles and segments certainly feature accurate depictions of disillusioned and unhappy doctors, but there is more to a medical career than despair.
The practice of medicine, not unlike many professions, is undergoing a transformation. While there are definitely too many unproductive cooks in the kitchen trying to grab a piece of the ever-shrinking healthcare pie, there are other developments in medicine besides the worsening bureaucratic crisis.
Medicine is NOT all doom and gloom. There are solutions for the bumps in the road of a medical career.
Keep Long Term Goals in Mind
Being a doctor is a great privilege. Women physicians need to take hold of opportunities to become leaders in health care. The physician career can have many stages, including clinical practice, but not excluding other options such as leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. Understand that a physician career is a continuum of education, clinical practice, leadership, and creativity. You have the power to take your career in any direction you want to- at any time.
Know Your Options
Physicians have so many career options. Knowing your options is a critical part of planning how to set the stage to reach your goals. And it is an important part of being able to choose the right job without 'settling' for a position that is not really fulfilling your professional and personal goals.