3 Ways Medical Students can Switch into Other Professions
Physicians are highly specialized professionals, but they also possess a very broad-based skill set. Getting into medical school requires years of effort, academic rigor, goal-setting and follow-through, all of which are necessary to excel in any profession.
Furthermore, while medical school students learn the basics of medical science in a sterile classroom setting, they are also thrust into real high-stakes situations under the guidance of more experienced physicians. In these situations, they are tasked with communicating with people from all walks of life, receiving and incorporating feedback to improve their day-to-day practice and gathering complex information through face-to-face patient interviews and literature review to formulate an action plan suited for the situation at hand.
Considering the length and nature of medical training, it’s not far-fetched to believe that physicians can excel in other disciplines, especially as science and technology are becoming more in-demand in virtually every field.
These are what med school hopefuls should understand about pursuing professions outside of medicine after earning their M.D. or D.O. degree:
1. Why More Physicians do not enter other Professions
Many physicians find themselves reluctant to broaden their pursuits, especially since many have invested years of devotion and finances in order to practice medicine. It is often very hard for people in medicine to overcome the innate risk aversion of the field. Risk-based decision-making is almost entirely flipped upside down. High student debt burden can make newly minted M.D.s cautious about career moves, but residency pay is typically not that great itself, and it is certainly bounded on the upside, whereas lots of careers options may not share those properties.
Established physicians may also want to leave but feel restrained, finding great difficulty in leaving behind lifestyles afforded by the high incomes in medicine, particularly when spouses or children are involved. And yet despite the strong incentives to carry forward in medicine, every future and current physician should be on the lookout for other opportunities.
Medicine is awesome, and there are going to continue to be great opportunities for creative people in medicin. People should not assume that practice will be anything like what it is today, but if you lean into technology and innovation, things will be interesting. The pace of change in medical innovation will never again be as slow as it is today, and that has always been the case.
2. How a Medical Degree is Applicable to Different Fields
Medicine teaches how to listen to people, how to be there for someone at their most vulnerable time, to observe a person for the details they weren’t sharing verbally, and to lead with empathy and compassion. Learning how to take a thorough history, studying how best to ask questions and how best to actively listen – those are skills to learn when studying medicine.
The general breadth of medical education provides an excellent foundation for many things, and you should’nt underrate the core experience of working with people in challenging and high-stakes situations. Certainly, presentation skills are important. Medicine has good training around the ability to digest a large amount of technical material quickly. It’s also a great way to establish a work ethic and self-discipline.
3. How Doctors can Pursue Fields Outside of Medicine
Many physicians and doctors in training may find it daunting to pursue other fields after devoting years of their lives to the practice of medicine, taking premed courses, graduating from med school and even completing residencies. Considering the demands of the medical profession, very few may feel ready to take on the tasks of another vocation.
To prepare to pursue other professions, the importance of self-learning and practical education is required. If you come across people forging career paths and combining passions in ways that intrigue and inspire you, reach out to them and ask them how they did it. You can do it, too!
It is advisable for applicants not to bury their passions in the fear that medicine has to be the only thing they practice in life. You will be more fulfilled and satisfied and your patients and colleagues will benefit from your personal happiness if you honor all the things that excite you.