Friday, March 12, 2010

Have you mapped out your career path?

If you're planning a career transition out of clinical medicine, have you mapped out your career path? What are you long-term career goals? Do you know how to get there?

When I speak with individual physicians, I help them map out short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals and plans. I realize that those plans could change over time, but it's important to really know where you're headed. Otherwise, you could easily spend a great deal of time, energy, and money on things that won't really end up getting you where you want to be.

Residents who wish to drop out of medicine struggle with the idea that they've essentially "wasted" their medical school education and medical/surgical training. Think about how many years it takes to become a practicing doctor in this country. If you really knew that you would not want to practice medicine, would you have come this far?

Similarly, I meet physicians who are pursuing master degrees because they want to change careers. When I ask them how they plan to leverage their new degree, they often struggle with their answers. A new degree (like an MBA or a master of science in medical informatics) does not guarantee that you'll find a new job when you graduate. In fact, given the current state of the economy, it could be very difficult to find a job after you graduate.

Make sure you have a clear map before you invest any time/energy into a career transition.

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