Thursday, May 12, 2011

5 ways to effectively position yourself for a non-clinical career transition

Physicians who choose to leave clinical medicine will all face this question: “Why did you choose to leave clinical medicine?” What’s your story? How would you answer this question?

There are some physicians who leave clinical medicine because they don’t have a choice. Others may feel that the grass is simply greener on the non-clinical side of medicine. Regardless of your reasons for leaving clinical medicine, it’s important to have a polished, refined, clear, honest answer to this question.

So, how can you effectively position yourself for a non-clinical career transition? Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Make sure you have a polished answer to the inevitable question: “why are you leaving clinical medicine?”
  2. Focus more on the positive rather than the negative. If you’re burning out or getting frustrated with clinical practice, spend less time focusing on your complaints and talk about the opportunities that you’re excited to pursue in the business world.
  3. Communicate your commitment to the new career. Companies won’t want to hire someone if they’re concerned about your level of commitment to their organization. If you have a track record that demonstrates frequent jumps and transitions throughout your career, you’ll need to have a very good explanation that will convince potential employers that you won’t be repeating that pattern.
  4. Describe both short-term and long-term goals. This shows potential employers that you’ve thought about your career transition and that you’re making an informed decision. I often encounter physicians who are trying to “escape” out of clinical medicine so they rush into jumping and they clearly haven’t thought about the long-term implications of leaving clinical medicine.
  5. Finally, be very knowledgeable about the industry you are pursuing. For instance, if you’re applying for a job in the pharmaceutical industry, speak with other physicians working in that role so that you understand the specific job requirements, challenges, and opportunities that are specific about that job.
As you prepare for a non-clinical career transition, find other physicians who have made a similar transition. Learn from your colleagues and receive some career coaching to help you refine your responses to common interview questions. Make sure that your resume effectively highlights your transferrable skill sets that you’ll be applying in the business world.

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