Hello friends. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. And if you're new, welcome to the podcast. My name's John Jurica. And, I've got episode number 38 today [3 Simple Tactics to Launch Your Exploration for a New Career].
You may have noticed, if you're a regular listener, that I've been a little bit delayed. My last episode was released a day or two late, and then the show notes were about two or three days late. Basically, there's just been a lot going on. And rather than just skip a week, I usually give myself the leeway to publish something a day or two late, rather than just skipping and missing an episode.
You'll notice the last three, including this one, are solo episodes. I'm hoping that's okay. I prefer to do interviews, but interviews are logistically a little more complicated. Every once in a while we'll have someone who cancels and then we reschedule, so then I'm left with a gap. I'm not that far ahead in planning my interviews. I’m still going week by week at this point.
Sometime in the future, I'm going try to get a little more organized. Right now, I'm planning for my next two episodes to be interviews. They should be very interesting. I'm not going to give you the names, but I will say that the next one should be with a physician who's been working in the life insurance industry, which is a very attractive industry for physicians. I should have her on next time. And then I've got one lined up for after that as well.
You might know through previous episodes that, for the last few months, I've been helping Laura McCain as an administrator for the Physician Nonclinical Career Hunters' Facebook group. And, I have three bits of information about that. There's some news I'd like to share with you.
Physician Nonclinical Career Hunters is Growing
The first is, it continues to grow. We're adding about 20 plus or minus new members every day. And, we're, oh, a few hundred members from breaking the 10,000 mark. So that's quite a milestone. And I'll announce that when it happens.
Facebook has added some new services, at least one new service. And that is, for certain types of Facebook groups, including those that are geared for careers, they've added a mentoring program. That's something I found very interesting. So they're facilitating a program where we link up mentors with mentees, and Facebook will walk us through an eight week process in which the mentor helps the mentees to make some real, tangible progress in a way towards their new career goals, or in improving their careers.
From what I know, the process involves about one hour a week for both parties. And, it runs, like I said, about eight weeks. We just got it set up on our Facebook group. So, if you haven't been on the group in a while, you might go there again. It's the Physician Nonclinical Career Hunters Facebook group.
This group is only for physicians. So, if you're not a member of the group and you join, or attempt to join, you're going to be asked three questions. Be sure to answer those questions. We need the reassurance that you're a physician.
Anyway, there is a process. And we're just learning about the mentorship now. I've just assigned one mentee to me. And I've also assigned one other. So, we only have two pairs right now. But I saw today that we have probably close to 20 mentees, and only myself and one other mentor. So, we're looking for more mentors for the group. And we're trying to link the mentees and mentors up so that they're looking at the same type of career opportunity. In other words, since my background is in hospital management, I'm looking for a mentee who's interested in hospital or medical group management as opposed to someone who might be looking to go into entrepreneurship, or consulting, or working for Pharma, since that's not my expertise.
Some Members Struggle to Get Started
So far, I've also noticed that there are a number of mentees who just want help with “finding a nonclinical career.” So, it's pretty generic, pretty open-ended, which brings me to the third point about the group, which is, I often get ideas for this podcast from discussion threads that are occurring on the Facebook group.
And, with this new mentorship program, there were so many requests for a generic, “How do I start a nonclinical career” question, I decided today that I'm going to talk about three practical, tangible, simple, direct steps that you can take if you're interested in a nonclinical career and you really haven't taken any steps to get started.
This is for those who are very early in the process. They're still thinking about, “Well, what do I want to do? How do I do it?” And so I hope you'll find that useful today.
Okay, to reiterate, today's episode is some advice for those who are very early in the process and are just struggling to figure out how to actually get started. So, if you're looking for a nonclinical career, or you're considering it, and you want to know what's out there, I'm going to give you some ideas of ways to get started.
Begin Your Education in Nonclinical Careers
The first thing to do is to educate yourself. I've been looking at these things for a year or two, if not longer. Here are some suggestions. You want to educate yourself about the whole issue of nonclinical careers and career transition. There are several good books and websites that you might want to start with, just to get an overview, and to get a partial list of all the potential nonclinical jobs that are out there.
I found the following books to be useful. Note that for the books, there will be affiliate links here, where you can link directly to the book and purchase it through Amazon. I do get a small stipend for doing that. But it does not affect the price for the book in any way. There's no affiliate link for the websites. Those are just normal links.
The first is Michael McLaughlin's book, which is very readable, inspiring, and extremely helpful. It is called, Do You Feel Like You Wasted All That Training?: Answers About Transitioning to Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians. It's done in a question and answer format. And, even though he ended up in a specific career – I guess you'd call it medical writing, and ultimately entrepreneurship, because he started his own company – he really addresses a lot of the issues related to career change. And he even talks about how he followed a process, which could serve as a model for you to follow if it makes sense to you.
The second book is Cory S. Fawcett's book, titled, The Doctors Guide to Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement. And he does spend a fair amount of time talking about retirement and financial issues. But there are two or three chapters in there that address some unusual clinical and the usual list of nonclinical careers. And he has vignettes and stories about physicians who have successfully made the transition. So I think you'll find that useful and instructive.
I found another book recently that I've not mentioned in the past, because it's new to me. And this one is by Emily Woolcock. It's called, Make Your Move: A Physician's Guide to Clinical and Non-Clinical Alternatives to Medical Practice. It's written by an orthopedist who now teaches online how to do independent medical exams. And I believe she's still practicing. So, I read the book. I found it interesting, and inspiring. So you might check that out.
The last book I want to mention is a book that I reviewed and summarized somewhat in Episode Number 2, called Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, by Jenny Blake. It provides an overview of the process of career change and transition that I think makes a lot of sense and can take some of the fear out of the process. So, again, I would recommend that you read Pivot, by Jenny Blake.
There's a relatively new blog called Look for Zebras. And, recently there was a post titled, “Nonclinical Career Profiles for Physicians.” But it links to 19 specific jobs that are nonclinical, with fairly detailed descriptions. And for each one, the author answers this question: Is this a career for you?
I found that very interesting and helpful, because we don't want to rush into a career that really is not compatible with our personality, our interests, or our passions. I found this one to be very helpful.
Another blog that lists many nonclinical careers and provides some examples of each, is called NonClinicalDoctors.com. This is the blog that's produced by Heidi Moawad. She's got a long list of nonclinical careers. And, some of them have links to specific examples. So that'll give you a little bit more insight into each of those careers. It might be a little different from the other ones.
And finally, I want to recommend the blog that's produced by Heather Fork at Doctor's Crossing. It doesn't have as many specific job descriptions, but there are a lot of articles that address issues like personality, how to make the decision, and other supportive topics that will help somebody who is looking to leave clinical medicine. To really make sure they've considered all of their options, and to go into this process with their eyes open. That can be found at DoctorsCrossing.com.
So that completes my comments on action item number one, which is to educate yourself. There's a lot more out there than what I've described. But those books and websites will surely get you started.
Try Something New
Now we're going to move into the second action item you can follow. And these can be done concurrently. One of the approaches that can be helpful in career transition is to do little pilots, or to try different things and see if they gel with you. If they meet your needs. If they're something that generates some degree of passion or interest and fits your personality and so forth.
And, it's not always easy to tell ahead of time if this is going to be the case. Sometimes you try things and you find out after you've tried them that they really do get you going. That they really interest you. They motivate you and inspire you. So, just get into something, even though you may not know for sure how much you're going to like doing it.
Volunteer and Learn
This first set of explorations I'm going to describe have to do with finding and joining a nonprofit board. Okay, why do this? Well, a number of reasons.
By taking action and identifying some nonprofit boards you might want to join, you're going to be putting yourself out there. You're going to be doing something positive. You're going to be contributing to that organization. And then while you're doing that, you're going to be learning as you go. Because you're probably going to learn about financial reports, and quality improvement, and other topics that will build on what you already know through your medical career.
You're going to focus on joining a nonprofit that's in the healthcare field. There are many charitable organizations out there that you could join. But, I think it's better to focus on one that's in the healthcare field. Just to give you a preview, it would be boards for organizations that might be helping the disabled, or a women's shelter, boards for hospice, or if there was a nonprofit nursing home or home healthcare agency.
Let me talk about how you would find such an organization and contact them. Obviously, if you're well established in the community, you want to talk to your friends and colleagues. If you work at a hospital, you might see if they're looking for board members. If the hospital has an affiliate, such as a foundation or other spinoffs or affiliate organizations with a board such as a nursing home or home health, as I mentioned earlier, you might see if they need board members. And then, of course, just checking around, you might have knowledge about other facilities. Perhaps in working as a physician, you've interfaced with those in referring patients to them. And if all else fails, I have one other method for identifying a potential nonprofit to approach.
There is an organization called GuideStar. And it has a site called GuideStar.org. And, this is the site that lists all of the nonprofits in the United States. It’s sort of well-known because the 990 information that hospitals and other nonprofits have to publish is placed on GuideStar for review (by the public).
To get the most current data, you have to pay for a membership. But, you can sign up and obtain a free membership. If you really want to, you can go and look in the 990s and find out what your local hospital's CEO, CMO, CFO, and board members earned in previous years. The free version is providing only information from two three years ago or longer. But it's still a very interesting site.
But, for our purposes today, we're going to use it to try and find some candidates to approach for board membership. It's probably true that these organizations aren't just waiting around for a physician to show up and volunteer their services. But the reality of the situation is that many of these organizations would love to have physicians on their boards and have difficulty getting them.
Begin Your Search
So, it's very likely that if you find two or three that make sense to approach, one of them might have an opening. If not right now, at least within the next four to six months, because the board membership turns over usually every two to three years on most of these boards.
The process is quite simple:
- You go to GuideStar.org.
- And you click the button that says Sign Up.
- Then you put in your name, and your email address. And now you have access to the free part of the site.
- The next step is to click the Search button. That brings up a sophisticated search panel on the left.
Narrow Your Selection
Probably the easiest way to search is to click your state, or a closely neighboring state, and then click a city if you want to limit your search to a certain city. Then I'm recommending that you search for an organization that has revenues greater than $5 million per year. That way you know the organization's large enough to have meaningful financials, a sizeable employee population. And so, what you learn in looking at reports on an organization like this will apply to future jobs in many industries.
Let me give you an example. If I use this search function to search Illinois, it says there are 71,323 nonprofits in the state. If I look specifically at Kankakee, there's 191. Kankakee is a fairly small town outside of Chicago.
Or, I can look in Illinois and use a keyword search for “hospice,” which will identify 68 separate hospice organizations.
The other thing you can do is, under “Organizations,” you can break it down into type of organizations. For example, you might look in your state, and then under type of organization, you will find that letter “E” correlates to “Healthcare – General and Rehabilitation,” which includes a lot of hospitals, or “F” – “Mental Health,” which is another medical field that might have appropriate organizations for you to consider joining.
To take it a step further, if you were to look under section “E” under Healthcare, you'll see that there are subsets. And for example, in the state of Illinois, under “Healthcare,” you've got 74 that are considered to be “Advocacy” organizations, 108 that are “Professional Societies,” 54 that are “Hospitals and Primary Medical Care Organizations,” and 115 that are “Community Health Systems.” These will probably overlap quite a bit.
But again, play around with it. Try and find three, four, or five organizations that meet your criteria, that seem interesting, that are located reasonably close to you. And, that have, as I said, 5 or 10 million dollars in gross revenue, so that they'll be big enough to be meaningful, but small enough to be approachable.
There are two other types of organizations that won't be found on GuideStar but are very similar. One is county health departments. They all have boards, and they all have physician members on their boards, generally. And they have the same type of meetings, looking at the same type of information that can be useful with regards to exposing you to some of these issues.
And, don't forget your professional societies. There are state and county medical societies that have boards as well. And they also review similar types of reports, although, they'd have to be a pretty large county medical society or association to match the budget, let's say, of one of the nonprofits we're talking about.
Anyway, the point is to see if you can get appointed to some of these. And just start attending the meetings. Do some networking. See if there's anything going on that is attractive to you. If you like participating, then certainly volunteer for membership on some of the committees where you can learn even more specific details on areas of interest.
If you find that it's something that doesn't really align with your interests or passions, then, by all means, after six to 12 months, just inform the chair that you will need to resign. And then consider looking for another opportunity.
Remember that you'll be learning along the way. It won't have any downside to put a year or two experiences on your resume. It shows both an interest in helping as well as some experience in business practices that you'll be exposed to. And it may lead to other opportunities that you can't even imagine.
Other Small Pilots Closer to Home
Well, I did say that we would have three steps or actions we could take. So, I know we're running out of time. But let me just add one, third step that's pretty straightforward. This applies to anybody's who’s in any kind of organization directly, such as an employee of a hospital or health system, or a medical group.
Or, even if you're independent, but you're on a medical staff of a hospital, or otherwise affiliated with an organization that you work with. Just stop for a moment. Look around and see if there are opportunities to assist that organization in any of the major areas that might be of benefit to your learning process.
So, I'm talking about they probably have a department, or at least a person that is assigned to tracking quality improvement, or perhaps safety, even if there's an area that looks at the finances or other, even clinical activities. Many hospitals have specific clinical teams and committees such as the cancer committee, tumor board, perhaps there's a cardiac cath conference.
Teams Need Physician Leaders
There might be units such as an observation unit, or the ICU, or other specific, very focused clinical teams that you can become part of. And they usually have meetings, and they usually need a chair. Then you get into that, and you start leading these meetings and assisting and demonstrating your expertise outside of the strictly clinical area into management and leadership.
You might join the UM or case management team, or the informatics team. We've talked about some of these in the past. But, as you get involved, not only are you learning some clinical subject matter, but you're also learning leadership and transferable skills that will apply to a specific medical directorship, medical advisorship, and then ultimately other types of positions.
Oh, and let's not forget about the continuing medical education committee, if there is one. That's a pretty altruistic area, but it's very practical to learn to skills regarding CME. You might learn about writing, presentation, accreditation, and these will provide some skills that can be transferred to other settings. And give you some ideas on what kind of long-term nonclinical career you might wish to pursue.
Take the First Step
The important thing is to get started with your education. Get started with exposing yourself to some other opportunities and other experiences. And, over time, you'll start to develop some clarity around what you want to do nonclinically. And you'll also discover other opportunities for being mentored or coached. You'll be networking. You'll be identifying other colleagues that may be a step or two ahead of you. And you'll also be identifying other resources that are out there.
Well, I think that's all we have time for today. And, I will remind you to please go into your podcast app and subscribe to the podcast. And, while you're there, leave a review and a ranking. That would be really appreciated. It will help to make sure that others who are looking for this kind of information can find it more easily.
Before we close today, let me remind you that I did put together a free guide called 5 Clinical Careers You Can Pursue Today. You can download that for free by giving your email address to vitalpe.net/freeguide. That's vitalpe.net/freeguide, all one word.
I want to end there today. I want to thank you for joining me. Next week we should be returning to the interview format. So join me then on Physician Nonclinical Careers.
The Resources are linked to in the content above.
If you're ready to move on, here is Episode 000
If you'd like to listen to the premier episode and show notes, you can find it here: Getting Acquainted with Physician NonClinical Careers Podcast – 001