What to do if you don’t want to practice clinical medicine?

Clinical Medicine: According to a 2021 Non-clinical Physician Career Report, one in five physicians is considering leaving their primary medical jobs for a career outside of the clinic.

The exodus of physicians into clinical medicine is the result of a variety of factors

The survey of approximately 2,500 physicians included questions about why physicians are considering stopping medications. As well as questions about what they plan to do with their post-clinic lives. And many of the survey’s findings have been corroborated or contextualized by recent studies.

Which indicate that the exodus of doctors is the result of a variety of factors. From financial problems to work-life balance and pandemic-related stress.

Why Doctors Are Leaving Their Clinical Jobs Behind

Burnout is the number one reason physicians seek to leave medicine for non-clinical jobs, according to the aforementioned survey of physicians, published by Medscape. Interestingly, 34% of respondents who were considering quitting cited burnout as the main driver, but not COVID-19.

7% specifically cited pandemic-related burnout as the determining factor that pushed them to quit smoking.

Another 20% said they want a job in an industry that doesn’t require as many hours. Beyond that, 5% said they were thinking about finding a better paying job, and 7% said the clinical work did not meet their expectations.

On the other hand, more men than women said they wanted a job where they could earn more money and work fewer hours.

Some specialists were more likely than others to want to quit smoking. Almost a quarter of those considering moving practiced family medicine, another 14% worked in internal medicine, and 9% worked in emergency medicine. Motivation to quit smoking also varied by gender. More women than men (39% vs. 30%) were considering quitting due to exhaustion.

On the other hand, more men than women said they wanted a job where they could earn more money and work fewer hours.

Tips for Doctors Considering the Leap

The NEJM Career Service article lists several tips gleaned from doctors who left the clinic for another career:

  1. Explore your options thoroughly and think carefully about why you are leaving the medicine and what you want to do instead. You can find many resources to help you explore a new line of work on the web and on social media. It can be helpful to discuss this with a neutral party, who can offer information without an agenda.
  2. Focus on networking, which can be critical to getting your foot in the door and blazing a new trail.
  3. Don’t quit until the time is right. According to the NEJM Career Service article. You should plan for a minimum transition period of 2 years, during which you may need to acquire new skills and network for your new career.
  4. Be prepared to handle rejection from colleagues and mentors, and don’t let that put you off making a change if you think it’s the right thing to do for you.

It may also be helpful to attend a conference on non-clinical careers designed for physicians, or to seek professional advice / consultancy (39% of respondents had followed the latter).

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