In this episode, I answer this question: What did we learn in the first 25 episodes of this podcast? I'll also describe where I plan to go next.

I produce this podcast because I’ve personally pivoted to a nonclinical career. And I think that's a valid option that frustrated physicians should seriously consider. Over a period of several years, I shifted from full-time clinical practice to full-time hospital chief medical officer.

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About 4 years ago, I began contemplating my next move. Would I seek an executive position at another hospital similar to what I was already doing? Or would I flex my entrepreneurial muscles and try something with a bit more risk?

Entrepreneurial Tendencies

My Dad and many of my 9 siblings have started small businesses. It seems to be in our blood. And about 10 years ago, I helped my wife, Kay, identify a franchise to purchase and run. I then provided a little help with setting up QuickBooks to track the business finances.

Today she runs an award-winning Home Helpers, in Bourbonnais, Illinois, and has over 70 caregivers and nearly 100 clients. So, I’m a big supporter of entrepreneurial efforts.

Four years ago, I began looking for another position in hospital leadership and went on several interviews at nearby hospitals.

Then an entrepreneur contacted me through LinkedIn with a business opportunity. I'd help him open a new urgent care center north of Chicago, and become a minority investor, medical director, and clinician.

I won't go into the details now, but after some analysis and due diligence, I decided to proceed with the venture. I left my job as chief medical officer in late 2014.

If you'd like to hear more of the details of my journey, you should listen to the interview by Dr. David Draghinas on Doctors Unbound. It's the December 18, 2017 episode. You can find it by going to or at iTunes at

So now I'm a partner, medical director and clinician at an urgent care center where I've been working for about three years. The plan has been for me to get things going, train the staff and then gradually reduce my hours as we add other clinicians. I've already begun to cut back.

A New NonClinical Career

While building that business, I started my blog in 2016 and my podcast in 2017.

I'll admit it's been a challenge at times creating the blog and podcast. There's a lot to learn, from web site design, to creating good content, and building an audience.

It takes time to arrange, record and edit interviews, and create blog posts and show notes to go with the podcast episodes. But there's a method to my madness.

I started the blog two years ago, in part to improve my writing skills. But I also wanted to encourage emerging physician leaders.

The podcast came about because I developed a strong desire to help physicians transition to a new career if they're unhappy or unsatisfied in their current situation.

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But there’s another reason I'm pursuing these new activities. It's because it gives me an opportunity to experience another potential career transition myself. And as I successfully develop this online business, I’ll write and talk about my successes and failures, and share what I’m learning.

I want to demonstrate that it’s possible for a physician to become an online entrepreneur as a blogger, podcaster, online coach, course creator, or e-book producer. So that's what I'm trying to do.

It's technically a hobby, because it doesn’t generate significant income. However, I have a plan to help you achieve your goals, create a community of like-minded physicians, and build a viable business along the way.

As I do so, I’ll document what I'm doing on the blog, podcast, and Facebook. I’ll share everything that I learn, in order to help you accomplish the same goal, but faster and easier than I me. In that way, I hope to inspire you to create your own online businesses, if you're so inclined.

What Did I Learn?

Writing the blog and creating the podcast has really helped me understand better what my colleagues are going through on a daily basis. And what I've learned isn't only from the interviews and the research I've done. I've also learned from readers, listeners and physicians who have already carved out space in the online business world as bloggers, podcasters, coaches and speakers.

During the process of sharing my content, I’ve joined several LinkedIn and Facebook groups, including the Physician Nonclinical Career Hunters Facebook Group.

This group was founded a couple of years ago by Dr. Laura McKain. And it's been growing pretty rapidly. After joining several months ago, I had the privilege of becoming one of the administrators for the group. There were about 4,000 members when I joined. The group is now approaching 9,000 members as I'm recording this in March of 2018.

In addition to that group, there are other Facebook groups and several LinkedIn groups that are devoted primarily to physician career transition or dealing with burnout.

1st Lesson

I've contemplated the forces that are driving this increased interest in nonclinical careers. And my attitudes about how physicians are being treated, especially by big corporate employers, has evolved.

In the past, I tended to be a bit “old school.” I came through medical school and residency at a time when it was still common to take in-house call every third day and work up to 100 hours or more per week. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but stoicism was a big part of medical training at the time.

It still is, but there are caps on work-hours during residency now. And there is acknowledgement that physicians in training can't work optimally if they're sleep deprived and chronically overworked.

My point in describing this is that, I wasn't highly sympathetic about physicians’ complaints about long hours or frequent call. In fact, when I was the CMO for my hospital, I was often frustrated because our physicians wanted to leave the office at 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. and didn't like the idea of being on call every third or fourth weekend.

Shifting Perspective

But as I talked to physicians that were reporting to me after implementing a new EMR, it became apparent that there was a lot of frustration.

Their jobs were becoming less and less fulfilling and more frustrating. Many of them were spending two hours in the evening, or three or four hours on weekends completing their medical records at home. I came to believe that those long work hours just weren’t right. Adding the demands of prior authorizations for testing, and new regulations only increased those frustrations.

More recently, I've spoken with physicians about career change. And, I've interacted with members of the Facebook and LinkedIn groups that I talked about earlier. It's become apparent to me that many physicians are being pushed around and overworked for no good reason.

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In fact, some physicians seem pretty darn “crispy,” and ready to walk away from medicine. Many are leaving simply because of the intense workplace frustrations they're experiencing.

New Realization

This has led me to the following conclusion:

Given the long hours, the years of training, intense effort, and sacrifice (forgoing vacations, hobbies and time with friends) tells me that you deserve something better.

There's absolutely no logical reason why you should NOT pursue and enjoy a career that's fulfilling and joyful. You should NOT continue doing a job that is burning you out. And you should NOT be working for any organization that's sucking the life out of you, intentionally or not.

So that's realization number 1 that I've come to fully embrace.

You don't owe your patients, your employer or your community your very soul. That’s not the oath you've taken. That’s not a debt that you owe.

If you're stuck in a situation like that, then I implore you to do two things.

First, make a commitment to yourself to change it, either to make it better, or to get out. Second, begin talking to someone about your feelings, whether it's your spouse, significant other, boss, or colleagues. Let them know what you’re feeling so they can support you as you do something about addressing the cause of those feelings.

You don't have to leave your current job, if you can make the situation better. But if you can't, then it's time to get out!

I think that is the most critical belief that you must come to grips with: that you must take action if your career is dragging you down, rather than bringing you joy and satisfaction. And that you deserve to be happy.

4 More Lessons

The 2nd thing I've learned, and talked about in Podcast Episode 2, is that if you're going to make a change, it doesn't have to be all or none, at least not initially. You can start with small pilots before you make the formal commitment to a new career. And that it's possible to do it in a way that isn't going to be disruptive.

I've also learned more about the pros and cons of obtaining an MBA. Yes, there are some very clear areas where an MBA can be useful. But after speaking with Dr. Atish Jaiswal in Episode 3, and with Kate Atchley in Episode 25, I think that considering an MBA should be done very deliberately, with the idea of balancing the costs and the benefits.

If you know that you're ultimately going to be in a leadership position, the best option might be the following. Get some leadership experience and a formal part-time or full-time job in management. Then when it's time to seek that MBA, approach your employer to help you with time off and funding.

The 4th thing I’ve learned is that there are many coaches available to help you. I would strongly encourage you to consider using a coach. Even if it's just for a few sessions, it will help to focus your efforts, particularly if you're not sure what direction to go.

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You may recall that I interviewed coaches Kernan Manion, Michelle Mudge-Riley, Robert Gleeson, Charlotte Weeks, Dian Ginsberg and Heather Fork. I found that they all demonstrated a great deal of experience and wisdom when working with physicians.

I’ve also heard from their clients, and they all benefited from the support and coaching of these capable professionals.

Most of them mentioned one common observation about their clients: that self-limiting beliefs and fear play a big part in holding them back from pursuing that new career. This is the 5th lesson I’ve learned.

And to move forward, we must learn to overcome those limiting beliefs. We all have a vast skill set and are capable of entering one of dozens of possible careers out there. A career that's much more interesting and fulfilling.

Mentors, Conferences and Professional Associations

The 6th lesson that I learned about while talking with the coaches mentioned above is that mentors are extremely important. I spoke specifically about how to identify and engage a mentor in Episode 4 of the podcast.

Since we're speaking about resources, the 7th thing I learned is that LinkedIn can be your best friend when seeking that new career. This is noted by most of the coaches I spoke with, and I addressed it in Episode 8 and Episode 9.

There are two other big resources that I've identified during the course of this work.

The 8th big thing I learned about is the Annual SEAK Nonclinical Careers Conference held in Chicago each October. It's the one place where you can find education, mentorship and coaching by dozens of physicians who have made a shift to a non-clinical career.

The other big resource, and the 9th lesson I’ve learned, is the American Association for Physician Leadership. It is a fantastic organization run by physicians, for physicians, that will help you to become a leader in whatever career you pursue. In Episode 24, Dian Ginsberg provided a detailed description of the organization.

How To Pursue Specific Nonclinical Careers

Finally, for my 10th important lesson, I learned about specific non-clinical jobs and how to pursue them. Developing a career in each was something I didn't understand before interviewing the following guests.

Cesar Limjoco talked about this role as a clinical documentation improvement consultant, but we also learned in Episode 5 how you can hone your skills in this area, and pursue a career as a physician adviser for CDI.

In Episode 12, Timothy Owolabi talked about his role as a physician adviser for care management. He really enjoys the work. And his job serves as a stepping stone to other management and leadership roles in the hospital setting.

I spoke with Brian Young in Episode 14 about medical informatics. He explained that informatics is a rapidly growing field with a need for physician experts. It’s a field that you can begin with just a sincere interest and a little experience.

Serial entrepreneur Mike Woo-Ming provided insights into how to create a new career or side-hustle in Episode 19. We learned about medical writing from Mandy Armitage in Episode 22, and how to become an insurance broker and physician advocate from Stephanie Pearson in Episode 23.

A Steep Learning Curve

I've learned a lot in these last 25 weeks. I was a little nervous when I started the podcast. There were the technical issues, and I really didn't have much experience doing interviews.

But I was a big fan of Michael Hyatt, Amy Porterfield, and Pat Flynn, and I was able to learn a lot from them, purchasing some of their courses to help me on my blogging and podcasting journey.

Things have gone pretty well. I've had generally positive feedback from listeners and readers. And I've had an opportunity to engage with many young physicians that want to learn more about career change. I’ve also met some great physician professionals who are working to help those physicians find the right career.

A Few Thanks…

I must mention Laura McKain, the founder of the Facebook group I talked about. I've been intending to interview her because she's a coach, resume writer, and nonclinical physician who worked in pharma for many years. She recently switched to a new career with a biotechnology company. She's done a fantastic job starting and growing the Physician Nonclinical Career Hunters FB Group.

I met her at the SEAK Conference last October. She's a great resource for physicians. So, I want to acknowledge her for the work that she's done. She encouraged me and invited me to help her with the Facebook group. And she's been a great role model for me and other members in the group.

Photo by on Unsplash

I'd like to acknowledge others who have served as mentors and colleagues to me. I've developed relationships with other bloggers, such as Future Proof MDPhysician on Fire (they like to post anonymously), and Mark at The Productive Physician.

As I mentioned earlier, Dave Draghinas at Doctors Unbound has been a source of encouragement. I’ve also had the opportunity to interact a little with Nii Darko at Docs Outside the Box.

Several of the people that I've interviewed have continued to keep in touch and encourage and support me. I’m especially thankful for the support and encouragement from Heather Fork at Doctors Crossing (Episode 18); Kernan Manion (Episode 7); and Michelle Mudge-Riley (Episode 10).

I'm Here to Serve You!

I'm really here to serve you. I encourage you to contact me in any way that you'd like. Please give me feedback and ideas for future episodes of the podcast.

The easiest way to contact me is to write me at

And I’ll tell you a little secret. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in hospital quality or administration, email me at that address. I'll provide up to an hour of free coaching if my schedule allows.

Otherwise, you can add a comment to the show notes below.

Today's Quote

Let’s end with this quote:

See you next time on Physician NonClinical Careers.

Here is a list of resources mentioned in this episode:

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