Through a networking event, I was introduced to a fascinating gentleman who is currently a semi-retired Orthopaedic surgeon.
With a background in medicine, he has managed to establish himself as an extremely wealthy businessman where he has branched out into Recruitment, International Real Estate, Vintage cars and much more.
He regaled stories as to when the penny dropped after his training had finished; he thought he was at the pinnacle of his career when he’d met a builder who, with very few academic qualifications, had managed to build an empire from scratch to the point where he no longer had to work.
There are many reasons why we choose medicine as a career pathway, most commonly of which is job and financial security. Doctors can command excellent salaries in their careers, although the road to get there is usually quite long and bumpy; especially in the current climate considering the cost of living and raising a family and excessive fees associated with specialty training (e.g. examinations, conferences, courses etc).
The main commonalities between the surgeon and the builder are; financial smarts and drive. One has to develop both to be successful and lucrative in any career, and this ideally should be learned early on, however as my new friend demonstrated; it is never too late.
Medical management and leadership is encouraged in the career-building process, yet many doctors are placed in Leadership roles when they have little experience, which can be quite daunting. We can only address this by allocating some of these Clinical Leadership roles, to non-clinicians. This is not always welcomed by all.. Tom Moberly’s article in the BMJ Careers touches upon reasons why there are a distinctive lack of doctors in critical leadership roles; indicating that doctors prefer to remain in roles that attracted them to medicine in the first place; treating patients.
We forget that with all the transferrable skills we have developed within our career, we can use this to harness and direct our energy to make real changes within our working environment or to develop businesses which will support a thriving healthcare sector. Several doctors have demonstrated that one does not need to do an MBA to achieve this, yet you will need to gather some expertise to guide you on your way. Whether you work in the NHS, industry, or overseas there will always be a gap in the market to develop a niche product or service that could benefit society. As a doctor, you have the tools and knowledge to develop it.
We welcome life long learning within our profession; this includes the world outside medicine.