Life After Medical School: Alternative Careers to a Hospital
IN A NUTSHELL:
- Medical students and physicians considering alternative careers
- COVID-19 Pandemic caused increase in hospitalist burnout
- Medical degree opens door to a wide range of careers related to healthcare
With medical residency on the horizon and ERAS applications under review, many students are considering their options for a career in healthcare as others contemplate taking a new path entirely.
Despite completing years of hard academic work and an educational curriculum that only a few are brave enough to endure, the career ahead may seem too daunting given the rapid healthcare industry changes within the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on healthcare delivery, as well as the changes current medical students face, are causing some healthcare professionals to re-think their career entirely.
One of the most consequential effects of the pandemic on healthcare workers is the rise in burnout. A nationwide survey conducted by Medscape found that around 42 percent of physicians reported symptoms of burnout.
It comes as no surprise that medical students, medical residents, and those who are already working in clinical practice are considering alternative options to the hospital. Such a career leap can be almost as daunting as entering the healthcare field to begin with, especially when one seeks job qualities which they currently lack.
However by having a degree in medicine, finding a well-paying job with an enjoyable work-life balance isn’t as tough as it would be without one—they key is switching to a profession related to healthcare.
Five Medical Careers Outside of the Hospital
1. Healthcare consultant
A healthcare consultant is a popular, well-paying alternative for medical students, graduates, and those with several years of career experience under their belt. This career allows for a variety of work environments to choose from, including pharmaceutical corporations, medical device companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies at the federal or state level.
A healthcare consultant provides advice on integration of technology, company mergers and acquisitions, product development, and research. At a managerial level, a healthcare consultant often provides an objective overview of the company and develops strategies for growth and improvement.
Working as a consultant is ideal for healthcare professionals seeking a well-paying position where they can utilize their years of education and clinical experience without actively practicing medicine.
This is one of many ways that healthcare professionals can use their medical degree and experience to help others without the need to put on different colored scrubs or a white coat. Academia offers a relatively stress-free environment with various options ranging from teaching basic science courses to entry-level medical students, teaching clinical skills to those near the end of medical school, serving as an academic advisor to student research projects, training residents in their chosen specialty, and various other courses related to a specific scope of practice.
Considering the advances in the digital age that have brought about new industry trends for healthcare professionals, working as an educator in healthcare while having first-hand industry experience enables healthcare professionals to provide medical education with present-day applications.
3. Medical writer
Working as a medical writer can be an easy way for healthcare professionals to put their knowledge of the healthcare industry as well as their skillset to good use. Aside from healthcare publications such as academic journals and medical society publications, writers are able to work with pharmaceutical and medical device companies, public health agencies, or freelance for healthcare networks.
Medical writers are also crucial for clinical trials and the development of new drugs where they are involved in writing protocols and recommendations for new medications or treatments. Lastly, medical writers can easily step into the realm of journalism by using their expertise to become a medical columnist or correspondent.
4. Forensic medical examiner
While it may not be as bright and cheery compared to other healthcare career alternatives, a forensic medical examiner is an interesting career which requires a medical degree in most states and carries a high level of responsibility. Forensic experts examine crime scenes, provide evidence in criminal trials, and support investigations into certain civil matters.
The primary role of a forensic medical examiner is to establish a cause of death. They conduct postmortem examination of a body in search of signs of trauma or high levels of toxicity. The reports, recommendations, and findings of a forensic medical examiner play a crucial role in the defense or prosecution of suspects.
Considering the profound impact a forensic medical examiner can have on a court proceeding, a person’s life, or the judicial system as a whole, evidence based on established medical credentials and education is momentous.
5. Public health worker
Another career choice which can be beneficial to have a medical degree is a public health worker. Public health workers are responsible for providing public health services to the general population which are considered to be essential.
Some of their roles include:
- Ensuring communities have access to quality healthcare
- Developing strategies to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS
- Creating and implementing policies to reduce tobacco use
- Promoting sustainable habits to protect the greater environment
- Developing reproductive health programs
- Educating the community about the effects of drugs and alcohol
- Developing community programs to assist those suffering from substance abuse
- Organizing nutrition programs in schools
- Developing strategies to prevent bullying in schools
How to Change Careers Successfully:
Whether you are fresh out of medical school, residency, or have several years of clinical experience under your belt, you need to be well-prepared before making the leap.
1. Examine all available opportunities
There may be more career opportunities in other fields than the ones listed above, or ones that are similar. A degree in medicine opens the door to a wide range of options, and it is important to do as much research as possible to find the choice which is most suitable to you. The more research you do will ease the process while adding reassurance when it comes time to make the final decision. If you are unsure at first if you want to take the leap out of healthcare, there are always temporary positions with healthcare staffing agencies to test the waters or help you ease your way into a new position.
2. Take additional online education courses
If you are fresh out of medical school, additional education may be the last option you want to consider. If you are several years into your career, then you are well-acquainted with Continuing Medical Education courses. Despite years of traditional medical school or clinical experience, there can be instances where you cannot jump into a new profession unless you have met education requirements for professionals in that field. Online certificates or other educational courses can expand your skillset and show that you are up to date with the most relevant education.
3. Showcase Your Career and Reputation
A career in healthcare goes well beyond the letters before or after your name. It is important to fully showcase your abilities with ALL degrees, certificates, license numbers earned over the years. Equally if not more important are peer and patient reviews—which can add a personal touch to your qualifications and further boost your reputation. A smartphone app such as Vigil allows you to carry your career in your pocket. The app creates a digital badge with a personalized QR code, allowing you to showcase all credentials and verified reviews to establish your credibility, no matter your scope of practice, in a secure, user friendly interface.
4. Customize Your Cover Letters
Each cover letter you submit should be customized to match the potential employer and job opportunity you are applying for. Employers, staffing agencies, and human resource generalists can easily spot a generic cover letter that is being used for multiple job applications. Taking the extra time to customize your cover letter will further convince the employer of why your skills and qualifications match the specific position you are applying for.
5. First Impressions Are Everything
There is nothing more gratifying than receiving the request for an interview after all of your hard work applying for positions and making a good first impression is vital to ensure your progress continues. Best practices for making a good first impression include:
- Researching as much as possible about the hiring company
- Identifying specific roles and job descriptions
- Customizing responses on why you are a great candidate
- Asking questions to demonstrate commitment
No matter which industry you end up in, all of your hard work in graduating from medical school and any years of clinical practice you complete will pay off. Medical school graduates and healthcare professionals each carry a unique skill set unlike anyone else. Refining your skills to a career that is most rewarding to you individually is what matters most.