Not Sure That Medicine Is Right for You? Get Career Tips Here

Colin T. Son


July 14, 2009

The path to becoming a physician is nothing if not long. And once you set upon that path, your life seems to have been decided. There are exceptions, of course. Dr. Robert Jarvik invented the first artificial heart used in a human without ever having practiced medicine. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Michael Crichton were both physicians who pursued literary careers. And one physician even became Pope. In general, a degree in medicine opens a smaller variety of doors than many other advanced degrees do, such as those in law or business.

That may explain why Dr. Joseph Kim has such an interest in nonclinical opportunities for clinicians -- physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. He uses his blog, Medicine and Technology, to explore careers in consulting, entrepreneurship, medical education, the pharmaceutical industry, and more. He encourages clinicians who are no longer interested in the traditional practice of medicine to consider other careers:

First, ask yourself what you enjoy. After all, if you don't enjoy clinical medicine, you don't want to end up doing something else you're not going to enjoy. Then, start networking like crazy. Leverage all the online social networking sites (like LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, etc.) and get reconnected with old colleagues, classmates, and friends. Find out what people are doing. They may help you get connected to some key people. You may find some of the best opportunities this way. If you're a woman, you may want to check out MomMD ( and join a community of women who are seeking non-clinical opportunities ranging from part-time to full-time work.
Medicine and Technology hosts Grand Rounds
July 14, 2009

In that same post, Dr. Kim describes opportunities within the healthcare system but outside traditional practice, such as programs developed in managed care:

Managed care organizations are always looking for better disease management programs for their plans. Some MCOs develop their own DM plans and others outsource them to external companies. These companies create and deliver various services to managed care organizations, including DM, wellness programs, personal health record (PHR) services, etc. Do you ever get educational pamphlets from your own health plan? Who puts them together? Who designs and develops these wellness and preventive health programs?

Dr. Kim even has advice for medical students who are thinking about forgoing residency:

Are you absolutely certain that you don't enjoy clinical medicine? It may be much more difficult to go back to a residency later in your life. Have you explored Preventive Medicine/Public Health? Have you considered part-time work? To get to some of the best opportunities, you may need to start in a clinical career, get some experience, and then transition out of clinical medicine.

The topic of what to do with a medical degree might have once raised eyebrows: You took care of patients, period. But Dr. Kim represents a new way of thinking about the delivery of healthcare.

This week, Dr. Kim turns his innovative mind to Grand Rounds, the blog carnival that features highlights from other medical bloggers, including clinicians and patients. Stop by to sample the blogosphere, and pick up a little career advice in the process.


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