Are you considering an alternative medical career?

More doctors are looking at their own careers and asking themselves if it's time to look for an alternative medical career? Is now the right time?

As you know, this is a primary theme with us here at Medic Footprints – we help you to seek an alternative medical career and even careers outside of medicine altogether. In fact, we have a section dedicated to you with help with non-medical careers for doctors.

Feeling an Alternative Medical Career is Due?

When you’ve trained for years throughout medical school and in clinical practice, it can seem as though “quitting” involves throwing the towel in.

We’ve all experienced stress and the negative impact this has on health – being a doctor in this day and age is challenging at best for most clinical professionals.

Being on the front line of the UK’s NHS means you’re responsible for running clinics and wards in an orderly manner, achieving (daily) targets, an overwhelm of too many patients to attended to and care for with too few resources! If this is your experience, it’s simply exhausting and you end up asking yourself: Is this it? Is this what I trained to be?

So should we as an organisation even be seen “encouraging” doctors to leave medicine and their trained, highly important roles? Doctors are absolutely critical to society, and national organisations (like the NHS) depend on us, heavily.

That’s not what this post is about, but rather exploring your options – what’s in it for you, and then figure out what’s in it for your employer.

Believe it or not, we want a positive outcome from any uncertainty you may be experiencing – this should be your main concern. First up then, we need to look at the key questions you should be asking yourself.

6 Key Things to Consider When Diversifying from Medicine:

1. What Are Your Reasons for Seeking an Alternative Medical Career?

This should be number one. Write it down the old fashioned way with a pros and cons list. If you have a 5min daily journal, then this log will be a great help to you! It could be general stress, the working hours or neither, but the pull of another career that your heart is truly attracted to.

Make sure you’re noting down “highs and lows” of as many days as you can – even if it’s literally a 2-minute scribble, two columns GOOD | BAD and put pen to paper.

2. Talking to Someone Who Can Positively Guide You

This could mean any variety of people; it just has to be someone in your personal circle who you know can be trusted, not only with their honest opinion but to keep your contact confidential. This person (or people) could be within your profession.

Spending so many hours in a workplace can form bonding relationships, therefore this might well be an obvious and safe option for you to discuss your concerns about work. Also, look to your family, spouse, or partner – though they can be less objective than you’d prefer, they will provide a listening ear and sometimes that counts for more than anything!

Lastly, a neutral or impartial person – this could be an independent careers consultant – they’re trained in the field of careers and can just maybe help you tip the scales one way or the other. We’ve got some great resources here.

3. Be Realistic and Research Your Options

Are you considering jumping ship without a life jacket in the hope that feeling the fear will just release you? Sometimes, it does without a doubt, though it may leave you up sh*t creek without a paddle.

Have you considered medical careers within the same industry which could be so much more rewarding? Even retraining as a professional in the field you “should” have chosen – this is like one of those “if I could tell my 25-year-old self…” type opportunities.

On that note, here’s a video to enjoy.

Some awesome ideas in a medical setting you could explore with the skills you have already have:

Publishing, Medical Journalism, NHS management to name a few.

4. Transferable Skills – What Options do you Have for a Medical Career Change?

You’ve not only built up a vast powerhouse of technical skills and attributes, but don’t forget fundamental skills such as:

  • Working efficiently and most importantly, performing under pressure
  • Your Leadership Skills
  • You’re a Team Player
  • Time management and prioritising your workload

5. What are you Doing Outside of Medicine as an Outlet?

It’s not just about going all-out hard as nails during your weeknight Cross Fit Bootcamp (though there are of course huge benefits to ALL forms of exercise). This can mean anything from knitting to indoor basketball, running to just walking the dogs in your nearby park.

The point here is to get yourself doing something outside of work and medicine for which you can escape – purposefully and with intention.

No phones here with emails and Whatsapp pinging continuously; enjoy the moment and be 100% present in what you’re doing. A great saying to go by is committing to a “positive yes or a positive no” in other words, commit and do something or just don’t. It keeps you present, simple.

6. Thought About the Entrepreneur in you?

Sometimes the gravitational pull from where you are and where you could be is so strong; combined with your inner business-startup urge, there’s no other option but to explore your passion. It could even lead to a successful Kickstarter project?

Be authentic and put yourself first, because if you’re well, others will reap the benefits too.

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Russell Goodman