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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Physicians may be burned out, tired of filling out paperwork, or just ready for a change. Whatever their reasons, a significant number of doctors are considering leaving their primary clinical jobs for nonclinical careers.

Medscape conducted a new survey this year of more than 2500 US physicians to discover how prevalent this trend is, what's motivating doctors to think about leaving the practice of medicine, and what other careers may appeal to them.

(Note: Values in charts have been rounded and may not match the sums in the captions.)

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Overall, about 1 in 5 physicians are considering leaving their primary role in medicine to pursue a nonclinical career.

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Burnout unrelated to COVID-19 and a desire to work fewer hours are the leading reasons physicians are considering leaving their medical roles. One respondent mentioned, "I am ready to retire from clinical practice and see the need to support my colleagues, many of whom are severely burned out." Another respondent said, "I can make more money and work less hours in a nonclinical career. I was burned out as a family physician and became depressed."

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

More women than men were likely to say they were burned out for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, whereas more men than women were likely to want to work fewer hours. Men were also more likely than women to say they expected to earn more money in a nonclinical career.

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Of those who are considering leaving clinical medicine, about 8 in 10 physicians are actively researching new careers. At least half of physicians are looking online.

Michael McLaughlin, MD, founder of Physician Renaissance Network, a New Jersey–based career consulting firm, says it can be time-consuming for physicians to search online to find what's relevant to their interests.

"It may be more efficient to attend conferences on nonclinical careers designed for physicians, where they'll learn about the many opportunities available to them and information that's highly relevant to transitioning to a new career," he said.

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Guilt over money spent on education is not a huge factor for most physicians, most likely because they realize that they can use their medical degree and clinical experience in other careers.

"I wouldn't say guilt is a factor, as much as they may feel trapped in their jobs, which can make them feel like they've wasted their training and money, especially if they have loans to pay off. But once they transition into a new career that still requires their medical education, they feel reenergized and rewarded for having made that investment in their training," says McLaughlin.

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Ten years ago (2011), Medscape asked physicians who wanted to leave clinical medicine what their career choice would be. For those who would abandon a career in medicine, the top alternative choices were business, law, teaching, finance, and engineering. Today, writing is among the top choices.

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Fewer than half of potential career-changing physicians (40%) have either sought out a career coach or consultant or plan to do so.

Many physicians have become career coaches; they can be an asset to their colleagues looking to change careers. In addition to counseling, coaches can help physicians update their resumes and prepare for interviews. They may work with clients one-on-one, speak to small groups, or give seminars and speeches.

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Optimism abounds; more than 80% of physicians are somewhat confident to very confident that they will be happier once they're in their new career. One respondent said, "I already started my nonclinical career. It is incredible!"

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

Almost 6 in 10 physicians (58%) say they will make the switch within the next 3 years, whereas about one third plan to do it within the next year.

McLaughlin left plastic surgery after 4 years because he wanted a greater work-life balance and he was tired of medical insurance coverage struggles as a clinician. He began what turned into a 2-year search for an alternative career in 1999, when information online about career transitions was rare.

"I think that a lot of people now can do it within a year if they already have a general idea of what they're looking for. Otherwise, it can take a long time to figure out what they really like."

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Nonclinical Careers Report 2021

Christine Lehmann, MA | October 8, 2021 | Contributor Information

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