Here Is Where We Start

Today we introduce the 12-Month Roadmap to a New Career.

The 12-month timeframe is an arbitrary one. It is possible to complete the process in as little as 4 or 6 months. However, employment contracts sometimes require 6 months' notice. And you will need to craft a resumé and build a LinkedIn profile. As a result, 12 months is a comfortable timetable for completing these challenges.

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By joining the UT Physician Executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills you need to find a career that you love. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office at (865) 974-6526 or go to

12-Month Roadmap to a New Career

The Roadmap is divided into five phases. Each phase is used to perform specific duties that flow naturally over the 12-month timetable. And each phase has three to seven significant tasks that must be finished in that period. Oftentimes, they can be done concurrently.

Before getting started, there is a prerequisite. You must have already chosen two to three potential jobs to consider. This also assumes that the problem driving you away from traditional clinical practice cannot be solved by simply leaving your present department, switching to a different manager, or changing organizations.

In other words, you have already decided to leave traditional clinical practice.

What Happens in Month One?

The 1st month's steps include 4 tasks:

Revisit self-limiting beliefs and common myths that can slow your progress

Review self-limiting assumptions and common myths that might impede your progress. In order to move forward, you must overcome the self-limiting assumptions and widespread myths that emerge as we start to implement this life-changing event.

This topic was addressed in episode 252, “How to Kill the Myths About Alternative Jobs for Clinicians.” The most common misconceptions include these five:

  • there are a limited number of jobs available;
  • I'm not qualified for a nonclinical job, since all I know is medicine;
  • my income will decrease greatly;
  • I'm abandoning patients; and,
  • my reputation and position will suffer.

All of these have been shown to be false.

Review job descriptions

Do NOT wait until you're actually ready to apply for a job to look at job postings on websites like Indeed and LinkedIn. At this stage, it is important to understand the requirements of the jobs, and the language used in those positions.

Find a mentor

Episode 208, “How Do I Choose the Best Coaches Mentors and Masterminds for Me?” addresses this issue. Find a mentor for each industry that you are considering.

A mentor is someone who looks out for your best interests and is not typically paid. They are very familiar with the job you are pursuing and can help you avoid mistakes and accelerate your job search. 

Join LinkedIn and create your initial profile

Complete your first profile right away. Updates can and will be made in the future. You don't necessarily want to tell your employer that you're seeking work if you're still employed. So, the initial version can be more general in scope.

And, by turning off notifications, when you start to post your interest in finding a new job, your current connections (including your employer) will NOT be notified.


The 12-Month Roadmap to a New Career is a model to teach how to make the transition from a practicing clinician to a nonclinical job. It helps to organize the steps into a logical sequence that is not overwhelming. In the model, during the first phase, there are 4 tasks to complete that will set the stage for a productive job search.

NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode. 

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Transcription PNC Podcast Episode 269

Month One of the 12 Month Roadmap to a New Career

John: Welcome back to this week's show Nonclinical Nation. Today will be a slightly different type of episode. It's just me again, but this episode will be part of a series. The overarching theme of the series is this. The 12-month roadmap to a new career.

A couple of years ago, I put together a roadmap with all the steps that would take you from full-time clinical practice to becoming a chief medical officer of a hospital. And I structured it as a 12-month series of actions to take that would result in landing your first CMO job. On reflection, this roadmap can be generalized to cover the steps in landing any of dozens of nonclinical jobs, whether it's in pharma, consulting, insurance, or education, or in a health system.

The 12 months is also somewhat arbitrary. With effort, the process could be accomplished much quicker, but on the other hand, 12 months is a nice round number and it takes into account the need to give up to six months' notice that some employment contracts require. It might be 90 days, might be 120 days, or even six months to longer. That kind of fits in that 12-month timeframe.

Today, I'm not going to go through that entire roadmap, but I'm going to start with month one, and I'll be covering all four sub-goals in this important step at times referring to previous episodes in which we explored those topics in more detail. So, everything I've discussed, and I'm going to discuss today, really, I've discussed in other podcast episodes and sometimes in other videos and courses and so forth. But I'm going to put it all together in this series so that you can actually work along with the steps if you like.

Now, before we go any further though, let's thank our sponsor. The University of Tennessee offers the longest running and most highly respected physician only executive MBA in the country. It produced more than 700 graduates, and I've spoken with many of them.

The Haslam College of Business at the UT was ranked number one in the world by Economist Magazine as the most relevant executive MBA program. So, it's a very, very well-respected program. And unlike many others, this program only takes one year to complete. Since you'll complete a company project while working on your MBA, you'll demonstrate the value of the degree while you're still in the program.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations and have become entrepreneurs and business owners. So, if you want to acquire new business and management skills and advance your nonclinical career, then contact Dr. Kate Ashley's office by calling (865) 974-6526 or you can use our handy link at

All right, let's get started with today's content. I put together a list of steps that can be spread out over six to 18 months that can be used to pursue and land your first nonclinical job. It's funny because a lot of the steps are exactly the same no matter what kind of job you're looking for. It's really a career transition model I guess is what you would call it. A little bit different from maybe starting your own business but even there, there's a lot of overlap. And so, I'll put a version of that roadmap in the show notes and also in my email that I send out announcing the posting of this episode. And so, that'll be available to look at, obviously, for those listening on the podcast, you don't really have something you can look at while you're driving or working out or what have you. Anyway, in the past, I've shared that slide. It was called Roadmap - 12 Months to a New Career. But going forward, I think I'm going to change that to the 12 Month Roadmap to a New Career. That's how I referred to it for this series and probably in future podcast episodes or even courses on my academy.

As constructed for the 12-month version, it is split up into five major blocks of time during which certain tasks are completed. And each of those steps, we'll call them, includes three to seven major assignments or tasks that need to be completed during that timeframe. And usually, they can be completed concurrently. In other words, you can work on one and work on another, kind of going back and forth, because some of them you need to give some time anyway to take breaks. And of course, you might also be working your full-time job during this time.

Now, there is a pre-condition for starting this process. So, this process, these 12 steps or this roadmap, it doesn't go all the way back to the very, very beginning where you're just contemplating something and you haven't really thought much about it. So, this starts when you've already selected two to three potential jobs to consider. And this assumes as simply leaving your current department, maybe getting a new manager or leaving your current organization is not the answer to whatever issue is pushing you to leave traditional clinical practice. Whether you are interested in doing something new, something different or you're burnt out or you're miserable, or you've decided to just leave the high-stress situation that you're in.

As in any model or construct like this one, some of the design is arbitrary. However, those items generally need to be done early and are placed in steps one or two, while the end results such as attending an interview or considering an offer are logically placed in step five. Note that step six is accepting an offer and starting a new job. So, that's not really a separate step, but it's included in the slide that I use to describe this.

Anyway, with that background, let me dig into what I place in step one, which can easily be accomplished in a month in most cases. The four tasks that I'm putting in step one include number one is revisit self-loading beliefs and common myths that might slow your progress. Number two, review job descriptions. Number three, find a mentor. And number four, join LinkedIn and create your initial complete profile. Let's go through each of those quickly here.

Task number one within that is revisit self-limiting beliefs and common myths that slow your progress.For you to go from just contemplating a change to actually deciding to move forward, you must have already overcome to some extent the usual self-limiting beliefs and common myths that occur in us as we begin to take on this rather immense life-changing event.

But the thing is, even if you've come to the conclusion, you want to move forward, what we found, myself and other coaches and consultants, is that these lingering self-limiting beliefs and myths will slow you down because you keep bumping up against them. They'll keep you from moving forward. Now this was addressed quite a bit in some detail in episode 252 called How to Kill the Myths about Alternative Jobs for Clinicians. But let me talk about these two somewhat separate issues of self-limiting beliefs and common myths and we'll just kind of spend a couple minutes on that.

Self-limiting beliefs, I kind of categorize the things that people say in their internal conversations with themselves. Things like, "I'm not good enough. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't want to look stupid. I don't want to look foolish." There are all kinds of these sorts of self-limiting internal beliefs and conversations that we have that a lot of people have spoken about. And I think I had an interview with Dr. Maiysha Clairborne to talk about some of these.

Now, they're not to me the biggest issues because we were able to obviously overcome those when we decided to enter medical school, to excel in college, to choose a residency. And some of us went to some very competitive residencies and to persevere through three to five years of residency and fellowship or more if we did that. So, I'm not going to spend a lot of time on that, but you need to do some reflection and see if you really buy any of those things. Most physicians are relatively confident in their abilities. It's really the second part of these myths that hold us back because in a sense, they're logical, sort of arguments against moving forward. And so, I want to address the five most common myths. Again, I spoke about those in episode 252, and there'll be a link down in the show notes for this.

But the first myth is that there's a limited number of jobs available. Again, as I've discussed before, there are at least nine major industries that hire thousands of physicians. It's reflected in the fact that the jobs typically are things like physician advisor, medical director, and chief medical officer. Those are jobs that only physicians can do. Those are kept a big secret that is kept from us when we're in medical school and residency because most of our teachers don't want us to be siphoned off into those nonclinical jobs.

But the reality is that there are thousands and thousands of jobs out there just waiting for us, and on any given day, there are thousands that are open. You could find, I can guarantee you that if you start looking at job descriptions, which we'll talk about in a minute, you'll see thousands of them there. So that's number one. You have to get past that myth.

The second myth is that all you know is medicine and that you're not really qualified for other jobs. But again, I just described the fact that the prerequisite, the core prerequisite for doing 99% of these jobs is that you're a physician. Many of these jobs are open to physicians that don't have residency training or don't even have a license, but the fact that you're a physician is the core or central part that's needed.

Now, sometimes there are other skills that you need. Most of those can be usually learned on the job, or sometimes you can get a little extra training or certification or attend a course or something like that, and you'll be ready for those jobs. So, medicine is a very large, huge knowledge base. It includes so many different sciences, statistics, and epidemiology, not to mention how to work in teams, how to teach, and how to do presentations. There are so many skills you have, and you're so attractive as an employee because you're so reliable. Presenteeism is not an issue as opposed to absenteeism. Your focus, your ability to get the job done are just so great that you're a great employee anyway. And of course, even if you're going to do something if you're not employed, but you're self-employed, those skills all come in handy.

The third big myth is that your income is going to suffer significantly. Usually, when I'm addressing that, I talk about two things. Number one, you've got to compare apples and oranges. You cannot compare the fact that you're making $600,000 a year as some kind of surgeon or interventional cardiologist. Take into account, at least to some extent that to do that, most of the time you're being on call every third or fourth day, you're coming in at all hours, you're working 70 hours a week, more or less. And so, you've got to compare that to these other jobs where you're typically working 40 to 50 hours a week at the most. And also, the other jobs have to pay at least a basic salary of around $200,000 or more. They're not going to get physicians to do those jobs.

And the job growth and the salary growth is very rapid in some of those jobs. For example, most chief medical officers and hospitals make over $400,000 a year at this point. So, they're not low-paying jobs for the most part. If you're a freelance medical writer and you're only writing 10 hours a week, you're not going to make a lot of money. But there are medical writers and editors that make $200,000 and more a year as is right now.

All right, the other two myths. "I'm abandoning my patients." Just think of this. What job is it that you can create a new device or a new drug, bring it to market, demonstrate its safety that can save thousands of lives? Obviously, a pharma job. What job enables you to identify and reduce errors and improve the quality of care in a hospital? CMO jobs, medical director jobs. I saved more lives as a chief medical officer than I did seeing patients, most of which had really trivial illnesses or chronic illnesses that I had little impact on.

Most jobs that you do nonclinical have a very positive impact on populations of patients. And usually, it's many more patients than you could ever interact with and impact significantly one on one.

And then the issue of your stature and or reputation being diminished, that you're no longer a doctor. Everyone I've ever met who's done a nonclinical job is still called a doctor, still recognized as a physician. And part of that is because the jobs I talk about are those that involve building on your medical background. In other words, you're not just going to become, let's say, an attorney who doesn't work with malpractice cases or a business owner in something that has nothing to do with healthcare. Most everything we talk about here, our jobs in which it's part of your background as a physician, that is the reason you move into these new positions, which are usually a lot more pleasant, less stress, no liability. That's another thing that should be compared in terms of the cost.

And so, keep that in mind. Your reputation is intact. In fact, when I went from being just one family physician in a hospital with 300 or 400 physicians on staff to the chief medical officer, if anything, my stature and reputation improved significantly, and it's true of very many other jobs.

The first task is the self-limiting beliefs and myths. You have to keep reminding yourselves of these things as you go down this path to the roadmap to a new career. The second one I listed is reviewing job descriptions. Now, that might not be intuitive in the sense that usually you don't have to start actually looking at job descriptions, job postings on websites in Indeed, in LinkedIn and elsewhere, until you're actually getting ready to apply for a job.

However, we need to keep in mind what Stephen Covey mentioned many years ago, that when we're doing something, running a business, starting something, have a goal, we need to start with the end in mind. So, there are things that are peculiar to different types of jobs that you might not come to realize unless you actually start looking at job descriptions. Now, granted, a job description is only so long. It doesn't always tell you exactly what each job is going to entail. There might be things hidden, but there are going to be things in a job posting that you might have never thought of, even if you've done your research on a job.

Suffice it to say that you might think you know what an MSL - medical science liaison - does because you've read about it in an article or in a book or something. But you might look at the job description and go, "Oh, I didn't realize that's what I need to do or I didn't know that this was the jargon that we would use in this job."

And again, whether that's for working in pharmacovigilance in a pharma company or becoming a hospital medical director, or chief medical officer, or you're going to do something in an insurance company. As you go through those, you learn the language that's being spoken at least by the recruiters, and most likely also by the CEO or the people that are hiring you for a position for that particular industry. So, you want to start scanning through those. Again, you've already decided on two or three or four different industries you might be looking at a job in. So, you want to start scanning through those. And if you see something pop up like 50% of the time you're going to be traveling and you wanted to do something closer to home, that's going to tell you "This really isn't a job for me."

And there's lots of little things that can come up in those job descriptions that you might not have thought of. Again, this is just something to do with the beginning. Take a few notes, and keep them in mind. You will circle back to the job descriptions and the job postings later when you're getting serious about actually applying to a particular job.

And the other thing is, when you look at those things besides the factors that might exclude you from considering it, there might be some positive things that would tend to attract you to the job. But the other thing is they'll mention things where, okay, maybe there is some training, or maybe I should take a course or try to get some kind of experience. They'll list the type of experience they're expecting.

A lot of times for a management position for a physician, they have certain specific experiences they like you to have had. Like maybe you've looked at a P&L or other financial reports. Maybe you understand the difference between cash accounting and accrual accounting, and that you can learn from reading an article. You don't have to have a degree for that or get an MBA, but sometimes you might want to get a certification, and the certifications can sometimes be accomplished by reading something and taking an exam or maybe attending a few weeks of courses. And then taking an exam doesn't mean you're going back to college for a year or two part-time or full-time. It can be lots of little things that would give you a little edge over other people. So, that's the other reason for looking through those.

The third thing in this category, in this first major step is to find a mentor. I've talked about finding a mentor before several times. Episode 208, "How Do I Choose the Best Coaches Mentors and Masterminds for Me?" is one episode in which I discussed it. There are some others. And you can have more than one mentor. So that's one thing. If you have in mind two or three different industries that you're still toying with at this point early in the process, then get a mentor for each.

Sometimes I bring this other issue up. It's kind of like having a mentor and that's being able to shadow. It's really not that easy. And in a lot of nonclinical jobs, for heaven's sake, if you have a mentor and someone who could take you around showing them the job they're doing, that you're thinking about getting, shadowing for a day can be super helpful. You're not really going to be there to learn the skills or the techniques you would use in the job. Just to be exposed to make sure you understand that it's the type of thing you'd like to do.

So, find a mentor or two or three. I'll remind you that a mentor is someone that generally is looking out for your best interest, somebody who is not being paid generally. I distinguish a mentor from a coach, although there is some overlap there. But heck, if you're going into these jobs, you should be able to get somebody that you can talk to informally on a somewhat infrequent basis and just ask a single question or two. You're not trying to monopolize your time for two hours once a month to teach you everything you need to know about this job.

I had someone that I met through the medical society, the Illinois State Medical Society, who was working as a surveyor for CME like I was. And lo and behold, I didn't know what job he was doing. I just knew he wasn't seeing patients anymore. It turned out he was a chief medical officer for one of the largest stand-alone hospitals in the state of Illinois. I didn't even know what a CMO was. I'd never heard the term.

So, he became my mentor, and I'd meet with him informally three or four times a year at a meeting where we were doing something else, or maybe call him once in a great while, and that was it. But he gave me enough information and encouragement and support that I actually pursued that job as chief medical officer.

The fourth task in this Step One that we're talking about today is to join LinkedIn and create your first complete profile. Or if you already have a LinkedIn profile or LinkedIn page, it's a good chance it's not complete. And if it's not, then just go ahead and complete your first profile.

Now keep in mind, it's going to be sitting there. It doesn't have to be spectacular, and it can and will be updated later. In fact, you want to keep it kind of general because you haven't decided specifically which job you're going to apply for.

Once you get down to step five and you're applying for your job and you're completing your resume, then you want to tweak your LinkedIn to be much more specific. The other reason for that is if you're still employed, you don't necessarily want to let your employer know that you're looking for a job.

That would not be the first thing I'd put on the very top of my LinkedIn profile. I would tend to complete all the sections that LinkedIn asks you to complete, but you can just complete them with the information of what you're doing now and maybe some interests you have that are potentially pertinent to your new job, but you could put those down more as a hobby or an interest. So, keep that in mind, but those can always be updated.

The other thing is, if you're going to do this update from time to time, which you will as you get closer to the end of that process, you can turn off the notifications if you like, which means that when you add something like "I am now looking for a job in the pharma industry", you can make it so that your connections, your followers don't get a notice that you've made a change. The default, I think, in LinkedIn is still that anytime you make a change, that's a trigger for someone to get an update. Like, "Oh, John Jurica just updated his profile. He's now doing X, Y, and Z." You can turn that off so it's there if someone's looking for it actively or if you send them to your profile. But your friends and family and your boss and your coworkers won't be notified when you add those kinds of things to LinkedIn.

Those are four good things to work on in the first month of this 12-month roadmap to a new career. That's plenty to work on. And if something bleeds into the second step, that's fine too. It's like a Gantt chart where you're working on multiple things at the same time, and there can be overlap from step to step.

But you should have a few mentors. You should get that LinkedIn profile going. You should start looking at job descriptions, in my opinion, to help kind of hone your further research. And then you should make sure you still aren't being held back by some of the internal self-talk that goes on in terms of your limiting beliefs and or the common myths about nonclinical career transition.


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The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life, or business.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. I do not provide medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counselor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career.