'I've Had It With Medicine!' 16 Options for Second Careers

Leigh Page

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July 10, 2014

In This Article

16. Start an 'Encore Career'

The "encore career," the job switch made by older doctors, which Dr. Kim explained earlier, typically doesn't pay very well but may answer some personal calling. Dr. McLaughlin said he knows of plastic surgeons who have taken up sculpture full-time, and Dr. Moawad knows a physician who quit practicing to open an aromatherapy and jewelry shop.

The Medscape Physician Compensation Report included responses of "chef" and "musician," which could represent doctors beginning encore careers. Steve Babitsky said one of his clients always wanted to work in the outdoors, so he found a job as a park ranger. "The job only paid $30,000-$40,000 a year, but that's what he really wanted to do."

Michael Alberti, MD, gave up a job as an emergency physician in Scottsdale, Arizona, to become a portrait photographer. Working in a busy emergency department, "I was losing my love of medicine," he said. Then two things happened: He got a digital camera as a gift in 2001, and his wife had a baby four years later. "It rocked my world," he said.

Having already mastered Photoshop, he began taking lots of pictures of his new baby, and within two years he had opened a portrait studio. By 2009, he had acquired a steady customer base in his affluent hometown, and he cut back on his emergency department shifts. In 2010, he was diagnosed with cancer, and by the next year he had quit medicine altogether.

He isn't making as much money as in clinical medicine, but his wife, also a doctor, makes up for that. "Giving up my old salary was not easy," he said, "but I don't do this to make money. I do this because of the love I have for it."

Pluses: This is a chance to pursue a personal passion while heading into retirement.

Minuses: Income from these jobs is generally low.

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