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A Rational Approach to Career Change
by Celia Paul
Medicine may have been a rewarding career for you, but
you have begun to feel that it is time to move on. But what, you
think, will replace your medical career? To properly focus on which
nonclinical career might work for you, several steps are critical:
Examine your priorities
What do you want from life? Is it more leisure time, including
more control over your schedule? Do you want opportunities to develop
an area that you now enjoy as an avocation? Are you willing to give
up other activities and advantages to gain what you want? For example,
are you interested in working regular hours even if it means sacrificing
high income? Are you willing to go back to school to master a specific
new area that interests you?
Assess your skills
There are many skills that you have developed as a doctor
that can be applied in other fields -- managing, persuading, thinking
on your feet, research, quick decision making and problem solving,
etc. They can be utilized in careers as diverse as advertising and
investment banking. The question becomes one of focusing on your
desires- that is, what skills do you now possess that you enjoy
using most? By evaluating your strengths carefully, you will be
able to build on your past success to create a new foundation.
Let us look at some of the areas that might interest
you. The actual choices are up to you, but this information can
stimulate your thinking about options.
Becoming an Entrepreneur
Doctors have many of the skills necessary to become successful
entrepreneurs. They know how to organize their time and to determine
priorities. They learn new skills quickly, think independently,
and follow through on plans. They also know how to promote -- or
even sell -- which they use with patients to convince them to follow
a course of treatment, although their professionalism often prevents
them from accepting their selling abilities.
A wide variety of businesses interest doctors. Sometimes
the choice is based on the individual's medical background. However,
a business can also be based on a side interest, such as following
the stock market, or a creative field, such as an art dealership.
Hospital Administration/Private Health Care Administration
If you have strong organizational skills and an interest
in staying closer to medicine, becoming a hospital administrator
may be an attractive new career. Opportunities in private health
care use these skills as well as entrepreneurial talents, because
many health care companies are starting to grow rapidly as interest
in these types of services expands.
A Corporate Position
Corporations, particularly those in the pharmaceutical
and medical equipment areas, present opportunities for doctors interested
in working within a more structured setting. However, some doctors
become concerned about the loss of the autonomy that they have become
accustomed to in their private practices. Corporate positions are
salaried and include direct practice, such as in corporate medical
departments, as well as nonclinical work, such as research and marketing.
If you would like to maintain autonomy, consulting may
answer your needs. Consulting can cover a wide variety of opportunities.
Media companies hire doctors to work on the development of medical
exhibitions. Law firms hire medical consultants to advise on personal
injury and liability cases. Insurance companies use doctors for
medical assessments, although this is a role increasingly filled
by nurses. In addition to your knowledge of medicine, your analytical
abilities and communication skills enable you to make a contribution
in these fields. You can provide consultation services independently
or create your own business with a team of diverse colleagues.
A Writing Job
If your self-examination leads you to the conclusion
that writing is one of your strongest and most enjoyable skills,
you should consider careers with a heavy emphasis on written communication.
A growing field is medical public relations. Your responsibility
is to obtain publicity for the client or company you are representing,
which could be a private health care program, a medical product,
or a new drug. Some doctors also work for advertising agencies writing
copy that appeals to the medical market.
Another writing career that interests some doctors
is medical publishing for trade journals, books, and newsletters.
Your investigative skills, as well as written communication, are
utilized extensively here. However, opportunities in journalism
are much more limited than opportunities in public relations, especially
in big cities.
Whatever you do, think of the process of career
change as an exciting opportunity to discover who you are and how
you can fulfill your dreams. Taking a career risk can result in
enhanced self-esteem and greater career satisfaction.
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