Monday, May 18, 2009

A Taste of Chapter 1 from My Book

I'd like to share bits and pieces of my book as I write different sections. I'm currently writing Chapter 5 and I'm using stories to illustrate some examples of non-clinical career options for medical school graduates. Here's a very rough draft segment of Chapter 1:

During medical school, one of my close friends (I’ll call her Sandy) decided that clinical medicine wasn’t right for her. She attended a prestigious undergraduate university, had stunning MCAT scores, and a perfect GPA. During medical school, she took some time off to get involved in research and she published several papers. Her attending thought that she was going to be a superstar physician. However, she didn’t enjoy the patient encounter and she struggled emotionally with the burdens associated with clinical care. She couldn’t sleep at night because she was so concerned about her patients in the ICU. Her clinical rotations were destroying her and she ultimately decided not to pursue residency.

When she told me that she wasn’t going to apply for residency, I was shocked and I didn’t know what she was going to do. In fact, she also didn’t know. Her school counselors tried to convince her to pursue clinical medicine. They made it sound like she would be wasting all her education if she didn’t practice medicine. Since she had some significant student loans, she really didn’t know what to do.

Sandy started doing some research and getting reconnected with her college colleagues. It didn’t take long, and during her fourth year of medical school, she was interviewing at various companies and exploring the possibilities that were out there in the world of non-clinical medicine. She loved to write, so she finally ended up working in a medical education company and worked her way up to be a Vice President of Medical Affairs.

There are many people like Sandy who find themselves in a position where they realize that they don’t want to practice medicine. Sandy didn’t enter medical school with the intent of pursuing a non-clinical career. She also didn’t have an MBA, so she wasn’t the business-minded physician executive.

Most medical schools don’t teach students about non-clinical career options. In fact, most medical schools don’t even teach students about some of the uncommon specialties like Preventive Medicine (and all the subspecialties within it such as Medical Toxicology and Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine). Medical schools also don’t properly equip students about the business side of healthcare. I’m not just talking about practice management. Physicians should be educated about what happens within the medical industry. They should know what happens within pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies. They should also learn about market research practices and have a clear understanding of the differences between industry-supported marketing versus industry-supported certified medical education (CME). In the past, those two may have been considered synonymous, but that’s changed dramatically since the early 2000’s when the ACCME (Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education) updated its guidelines on certified continuing medical education. These are just a few examples of thing medical students don’t learn in medical school or residency training. As a result, physicians who decide to leave clinical practice end up feeling very lost about their options. I hope you’ll find this book to be helpful as I lay out my personal journey and share with you some of my insights as I’ve researched and written about various types of non-clinical opportunities for physicians.

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