If you’ve considered a non-clinical career or you are trying to learn more about what you could do in a non-clinical career, it’s nice to read stories about what other doctors have done. When I coach and mentor other doctors, I tell them they can literally do anything in their careers. Sometimes the best physician leaders serve as clinicians but also have other career experiences. These things can be done at various points in your lifetime. There are opportunities in finance, business, sales, consulting, policy, research, communications and as entrepreneurs (and more). It helps to read about what other people have done to be inspired to consider what a nonclinical opportunity might mean for you. Although I am a doctor who has done something non-clinical, I wanted to share stories from other doctors who also found success on the non-clinical path.
Michael J. McLaughlin, MD, founder of Physician Renaissance Network and co-founder of Peloton Advantage, a medical communications company. “I wanted to be a surgeon since I was about 17 years old. There was never a doubt in my mind, so I plowed forward through my education with blinders on, focusing so much effort toward that goal. Once in clinical practice, I became frustrated by the restrictions placed on me by insurance companies. In addition to this lack of control over patient care, I also lacked control over my work schedule and its interference with my personal life. When I found out about medical writing and realized that I could combine two passions – medicine and writing – into a single career, I immediately knew that this was the path I should take. Working in medical communications has allowed me to build upon the foundation of medical knowledge that I gained through my education, training and clinical experience, and apply it in a new way through the addition of my writing skills. Over time, I layered in management experience and an entrepreneurial spirit to start and grow Peloton Advantage, a medical communications company, with a business partner. I now see my career as a constantly evolving experience. Planning for the future and keeping your eyes open for unexpected opportunities can help spark the transition points in your career evolution.”
Richey Neuman, MD, MPH, vice president, head of global medical affairs at Teva Pharmaceuticals “I was working in an academic internal medicine practice and had been in clinical medicine for about 10 years when I began to wonder, ‘What’s next?’ I was fellowship-trained in clinical epidemiology and interested in utilizing many of the skill sets I had used during clinical medicine such as problem-solving, medical content expertise and teaching, but also doing more in public health and medical affairs. When I found out about a position with a specific need to design phase IV trials for a recombinant hemophilia medicine, which fit my fellowship training in clinical epidemiology, I thought this offered a new and exciting—and quite different!—challenge. So I made the jump. One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is, if you’re unhappy or not satisfied with your current position (or even a little curious about what’s out there), consider moving on. Think of what part of your job you like to do best (for me it was interacting with colleagues/patients and teaching), and look for jobs that involve those same activities. Talk to everyone you can about alternate careers.”
Heidi Moawad, MD, neurologist, teacher and published author “I chose medicine as a career because I knew some friends and family with neurological disease and I sympathized with their plight. I also was fascinated by the science of neurology and I found medicine to be a good way to have a job that works with people while helping them in an important way. After about five years, I found that I was frustrated by the lack of input that physicians have on policy and regulations that determine patient treatment. I realized that I wanted a wider experience in medicine and that I wanted to have an impact on a broad range of medicine in addition to patient care. I want to help other doctors to have a voice and a meaningful impact on health care delivery. In 2012 I published a book called Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine, which guides doctors so that they can find a financially sustainable, satisfying and meaningful job in a non-clinical career and now I teach, write and stay involved in health care policy.”
For more examples and stories of doctors who have explored a non-clinical opportunity, check out the book Physicians In Transition. I hope you enjoyed reading the stories of other doctors who used their medical background and experiences to continue to serve in a different and often leadership capacity. How does this inspire you to shape your own path during your career as a doctor?