Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Alternative Careers for Physicians

Have you read the JAMA PULSE edition titled, "Making a Living: Alternative Careers for Physicians?" PULSE is the medical student section of JAMA. Now, this was written back in 1998 and it was written in the context that people believed that we would face a surplus of physicians in this nation. I think we all know that the opposite is now true.

The Editor's Note is written by Jason A. Konner, a medical student at Stanford University School of Medicine (remember, this was back in 1998). It appears that Dr. Konner is now a medical oncologist in NY at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (see his bio here). I like his quote where he said, "Tomorrow’s doctors should not be unemployed; rather, they should be redefined." I still believe that's true today. Any physician who chooses to pursue an alternative or non-traditional career path should have the opportunity to redefine a medical career. After all, in today's world, it's rare to find physicians having the opportunity to repeat a residency in a different specialty.

In this edition of PULSE, the two main alternative career paths that get highlighted include:
  1. Medical Journalism
  2. Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology
Scott Eggener, (also a medical student at Stanford University School of Medicine in 1998 but now a urologist in Chicago) writes, "The Power of the Pen: Medical Journalism and Public Awareness." He writes very eloquently and goes back in time to 1940 when the when the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) was founded. At that time, its membership consisted almost entirely of those with MD degrees.

John Timpane, PhD, The Philadelphia Inquirer, writes, "Everywhere and Then Some: Physicians Making Careers in Biopharmaceuticals." He notes that "A physician entering the pharmaceutical company at an entry
level position can expect to earn $110,000 to $120,000 plus bonuses and benefits during the first year."  That was in 1998. Actually 1996 since that data is from:  Leaving the Bedside: The Search for a Nonclinical Medical Career, Revised Edition. Chicago, Ill: American Medical Association; 1996. How much do you think those salary figures have changed? Today, we're living in a world where major mergers and acquisitions are occurring. Pfizer and Wyeth. Merck and Schering Plough. How much career stability exists in the world of biopharma today?

You can read the May 6, 1998 PULSE edition of JAMA here (PDF).

JAMA, May 6, 1998—Vol 279, No. 17

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