What transferable skills do doctors have for alternative careers?

This article highlights the important skills that medics possess; many of which are easily transferrable to other professions. Many doctors,…

This article highlights the important skills that medics possess; many of which are easily transferrable to other professions.

Many doctors, especially those working in the NHS, appear to be institutionalised into thinking that medicine is the only option as a career for them.

This can play on their altruistic nature and perhaps resulting in inevitable guilt when an alternative is contemplated.

Even changing specialty within medicine can be a stressful period. I was very lucky to have a partner who worked with me through that transition phase which took at least 6 months or so.

Other barriers to change specialty or career include age and having children to support. Changing your career usually interrupts your financial stability which can have a great impact on your dependents and loved ones. I highly respect Consultants in hospital specialties who decide to move on to General Practice training which usually includes 3 years of ward work, on calls and nights.

Nevertheless, it is achieved, and most of those who successful transit usually have no regrets. Even those who subsequently return to medicine find this time out rewarding and provides a new perspective in their career development.

So.. returning to all those skills doctors developed over the years;

  • Excellent communication skills – drummed in from medical school and beyond. The most essential skill a modern doctor needs to succeed. Businesses are all about developing and maintaining relationships with clients and customers, hence this skill needs to be visible in your CV.

  • Multi-tasking and working under pressure –  With a surgical background including time spent in South Africa, I’m here to tell the tale. As a junior doctor working on the ward, one learns multi-tasking and prioritisation very early on in their career as much of the work is administrative as well as clinical.

  • Working with colleagues and team work – One works in a team which extends beyond your expectations; those you see every day and those you don’t. Nevertheless you maintain a decent level of respect, courtesy and patience for everyone you work with as your end goal is common; providing  good quality patient care. Moving between hospitals at least every year demonstrates the ability to adapt easily to new work environments.

  • Presentation skills  – So standing up in front of a few students, the ward, the hospital, conferences (international and national) builds your confidence and self-esteem. You are selling yourself, your product and your company, whatever the profession or topic. Most doctors shy away from this but I would recommend to volunteer to do this as frequently as possible.

  • Research and critical thinking – Remember all those papers we were forced to read, review and then write more papers about for publication? Well, those skills we either consciously or subconsciously developed are remarkable building blocks for progressing in your career in any profession.

  • Problem solving – we take this for granted, but we do this every day as doctors. Whether its a clinical, admin, personal or social problem, our minds are always buzzing to find a usually pragmatic solution to complex issues. We address each problem in a systematic fashion and recognise that one size does not fit all.

These are just a few examples.. does anyone else have any suggestions?

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Abeyna Bubbers-Jones

Abeyna is the Founder & Director of Medic Footprints and a Consultant Physician in Occupational Health