Thursday, August 6, 2009

Work part-time or switch to a non-clinical career?

One question that I often get asked is: "I'd like to have more flexibility in my life. Is it better to work part-time in a clinical setting or to transition to a non-clinical career?"

The answer obviously depends on your level of clinical responsibilities and duties. If you're a trauma surgeon, I don't know how many part-time positions you'll find where you'll gain more flexibility in your life. If you're a pediatrician, then I'm sure you can find other partners who'd be willing to split schedules with you.

The transition into the non-clinical world isn't for everyone. The corporate life probably isn't suitable for most physicians. A flexible small business may be a better environment where certain people may thrive while others need the pressure-driven corporate environment that's often surrounded by rigid policies and clearly-defined structure. Some people like to "wear many hats" while others like to have a single, focused role.

At the end of the day, it's probably going to be easier to find a part-time clinical position compared to making the jump into the non-clinical (or business side) of medicine. However, as you assess your long-term career goals, here are a few things to consider:
  • Do you want to have the flexibility to work from home at your own schedule?
  • Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?
  • Do you actually enjoy clinical medicine? Will you really miss it if you leave?
  • What types of family responsibilities do you have?
  • How do you prioritize in your life?
  • How do you define success?
  • What motivates you?
Always consider your long-term goals as you set short-term and medium-term goals. You won't achieve your long-term goals overnight, but you need to have a structured plan if you'd like to get there.

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