Career Change for Doctors

Ask a kid what they want to be when they grow up (or better yet, ask his or her parents what they want him or her to be), and I’ll put money on the fact that the kid will tell you they want to be A) A doctor B) A lawyer or C) An Indian Chief. Well, maybe not an Indian Chief, but what person or parent of a child has not at one time aspired to be a physician? 

With the hope of helping people while at the same time making a lot of money, it’s no wonder being a doctor is a draw. But with changes in healthcare recently and the realization that maybe there are other ways to help people and/or make money, some physicians may just want to bait and switch on their career. 

If you’re one of these restless doctors, it’s important to consider what drew you to the field of medicine in the first place and consider careers that have characteristics you still desire. Here are a couple of career change options: 

Medical Missionary

Were you primarily drawn to the field because you had a deep desire to heal?  If so, medical missions may be an option for you. A desire to travel, get out of your comfort zone and interact with people of different cultures and circumstances is a work value you would be looking to fulfill that you may not be finding in your current work as a physician. In addition, without the access technology in many areas where medical missionaries are needed, you would need to be driven by the desire to solve complex problems with limited resources. 

If you take a career assessment and see that your highest area is social, this may be the direction you want to consider if you want a change.

Organizations to check out that hire medical missionaries: 


Samaritans Purse


Healthcare Administrator or Consultant

In contrast, if you take a career assessment and see that your highest area is enterprising, healthcare administration may be the best change of direction for you to consider.   Healthcare Administrators oversee the business operations of hospitals, medical practices and/or nursing homes. Driven by a desire to create efficiencies, lead and manage people and work to make the entity they are working for profitable, people who are successful in healthcare administration and consulting see the big picture of healthcare and are able to weld the clinical side of healthcare with the business imperative to remain profitable in order to continue to treat and heal patients.  Having a clinical background as a physician can be very beneficial for those in administration and consulting.  

Professional Organizations in Healthcare Management: 

American Academy of Medical Administrators

American College of Healthcare Executives

Healthcare Administrators Association(primarily geared towards Third Party Administrators-TPA)

Regardless of whether or not you are a doctor or not, if you itching to make a career change, you need to examine:

What is missing from what I do now that I want to be able to do on a regular basis?  What skills do I need to use on a regular basis to bring satisfaction?

What is it that I do now that I want to continue to be able to do? What skills that I want to continue to use are transferable to other fields?

What type of environment do I want to work in? 

What careers match with the skills and abilities I want to use and foster an environment that are inline with my work values? 

A career assessment may help you short through these questions. We can help you with an in-depth assessment that examines your personality and desired skills and abilities to use or you can take a free one here. 

Mary Ila Ward

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