Doctors, Beware of Your Reasons for Transitioning to Other Careers

Determination and a strong mental frame of mind will help doctors brave the winds of transition or carry on with their passion in clinical service despite the odds

What Junior Doctors Must Know Before a Career Change

We are all aware of the plight of contract doctors who wish to pivot to other careers.  In a recent interview, Dr. Bhavani Devi Balakrishnan, ICT Healthcare Clinical Domain Consultant in the country, mentioned that doctors transitioning to other industries must do so for the right reasons. It was a sober reminder of the realities of life. One, that doctors must heed.

“Don’t try to get into hospital ICT because you want to escape from a toxic work environment. Workplace toxicity exists everywhere and within a hospital system, is still able to find its way to the ICT division”

In her experience of speaking to junior doctors facing a toxic work environment filled with bullying and harassment from superiors, she noticed that a number wanted to move to the ICT division of a hospital. Her advice to such doctors is crisp, “Don’t try to get into hospital ICT because you want to escape from a toxic work environment. Workplace toxicity exists everywhere and within a hospital system, is still able to find its way to the ICT division”. She added that if a doctor wants to get away from workplace toxicity, it would be best for them to leave the field of medicine altogether

Some in wanting to get away from toxicity in clinical service prefer to move to hospital ICT. They wanted to avoid the stigma of no longer being in clinical service thereby, being looked down by others. As mentioned earlier, moving for the wrong reasons do not work in the long run. Besides, toxicity which is readily present has a way of meandering its way into all levels and departments of an institution.

Running Away Isn’t the Answer

Rather, Dr. Bhawani urges that doctors be truthful with themselves for their reasons to transition to other careers. Running away from a situation never solved anything. In fact, it will only lead to more running because toxicity abounds everywhere. As an example, toxicity from workplace politics might be a daily experience in the clinical world but in the corporate world, career death comes instantaneously, without warning, because of workplace politics. So, when doctors transition, it ought to be because they know in their hearts that it’s time to make a career move. They have also made up their minds to be strong enough to brave the winds of change that will come against them.

Further, the notion that as a doctor, a person will be better respected in another field and live a rosy life is erroneous thinking. Those who have transited to other industries tell of how they are no longer referred to as doctors by their colleagues. They speak of experiencing the “death of their careers as doctors” but note that they are happy serving in their present professions as they are reaching many more patients than they would have in clinical service. They are also being recognized and well rewarded for their hard work. Some also revert to clinical service on a voluntary basis whenever time permits and are enjoying the work-life balance.

The challenges of transitioning to other careers are real. For example, an application specialist in ICT will need to master the mechanisms of the system, its architecture, and the solution landscape, The same applies for finance, medical devices, management, medico-legal and many other fields. Transitioning doctors are going to face a steep learning curve which will require them to master a subject matter that is foreign to them.

A Strong Mental Frame of Mind and Determination are Keys

As the field will be new to them, there might be a measure of disappointments and failures awaiting transitioning doctors. So, what now? To hightail run again is not an option. The best solution to the problem is a strong mental frame of mind. A strong frame of mind refers to a mental or emotional attitude or mode which is steady on the inside of a person regardless of what is going on on the outside.

Dr. Bhavani provides a remarkable summation on how to handle the problems that come with doctors transitioning to other careers. It lies in the whole idea of doctors being very determined. To be very determined is to be tenacious. First, tenacity is required in the mastery of learning something which is new and challenging for us. Second, tenacity is required in pushing through the difficulties of transitioning and being an overcomer in the industry we have moved into. For this to happen, a strong mental frame of mind is needed.  

Come to think of it, whether doctors decide to transition to other careers or remain in clinical service, tenacity will pull them through. There’s no doubt about that!

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