Residency entails a 3-7 year minimum commitment of training to attain clinical skills and board eligibility.
But what if, after finishing medical school, you decide that you hate residency and want to leave before finishing to pursue another avenue? You will most likely receive a number of different messages from various people.
I have received this question over a hundred times, and I have heard over one hundred different stories of why residents want to drop out.
And I have the answer you are looking for, but it might not be the answer you want to hear. Over the past years, I have spoken to over 30 health care recruiters and I know what they want in a job candidate for a non-patient care position.
The answer of whether or not you should leave residency depends on how you visualize your future. So, you need to ask yourself the following questions.
*Do you want to see yourself practicing medicine the same way that senior level physicians in your specialty practice medicine?
*Do you want to see yourself as a leader in your specialty?
*Do you want to see yourself spending hours working in your specialty, but not as a leader?
If you answered no to all of the above questions, then move on to the following questions.
*Do you want to see yourself practicing medicine the same way attendings in another specialty practice medicine?
If you answered yes to that question, then you need to develop good relationships with your program directors and transfer into a different residency. You deserve to practice the specialty you want to- and even if you waste a few years of training to get the specialty you want- you will find the extra training well worth it.
If you answered no to all of the questions so far, then move on to the next question.
*Would you like to be a leader in the health care field?
If you would like to be a leader in health care, the honest truth is that you will have a very hard time if you do not complete residency. It is true that leaders in health care can be nurses, PhDs, pharm Ds and MBAs. But the vast majority of non-MD professionals did not leave their own training and are certified and usually experienced in their own fields. I am sure you don't want to hear this, but, completing your residency and not getting your chairpersons mad at you (you will need letters of recommendation) actually puts you on par with non-MDs who are qualified in their own areas.
* Would you prefer to work as a businessperson, a lawyer, an investor, a journalist, a professional consultant, an entrepreneur or in any other field with little to no emphasis on medicine?
If you answered yes, then leaving residency is probably in your best interest. Residency, board eligibility and board certification will not help you attain these types of positions any more than just having a graduate degree. In fact, this is the only instance in which you will waste time professionally by remaining in your residency. But, be aware that your medical school and your residency will not be helpful in getting you the job you are looking for.
I wish you the best of luck in your future and a long and happy career path.
For more information on how to find a non-clinical job, see Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine. Find out more about your specific career options without residency here.
I welcome your questions, but I apologize in advance that I cannot always respond promptly due to volume.