If you’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t want to continue residency, it’s time to create a transition plan! I made sure to have mine mapped out before I gave my residency program my final decision (although they had known for some time that I was considering leaving). I would recommend the same for you. Keep in mind, your transition plan can include some unknown variables, just make sure you’re prepared to handle them however they turn out.
I purposely saved this for Part Three because it shouldn’t affect your answer! I’ll tell you why. During my self-reflective journey, I realized that the two questions “do I want I quit?” and “can I afford to quit?” were more valuable to me if they were answered independently of one another. I came to this conclusion by imagining two scenarios:
Scenario 1: I first answer “can I afford to quit?” and find that the answer is “no.” I don’t properly explore whether I want to quit or not. I just continue residency, possibly sentencing myself to decades of misery.
Scenario 2: I first answer “do I want to quit?” and find the answer is “yes.” THEN I find that I can’t afford to financially. The two upsides here are that I have learned something really valuable about myself (that I want to quit) AND with that knowledge I can start planning how to overcome the financial obstacles.
This is certainly the most stress-inducing part of the process. Leaving a career path with well-defined training, job stability, and high income to leap into the great unknown of non-clinical careers is scary. There are a million little things to consider, but only a few BIG things. As usual, I’ll start with some reassurance:
there ARE non-clinical jobs for MDs
Fortunately, there is a huge community of non-clinical MDs out there helping each other get jobs! But it does take some time. After all, we’re talking about entering a field that you have not spent the the better part of a decade training for (although your MD may certainly help, depending on the career). There are multiple steps to a career transition, each of which can take months to years. Some of the major steps include:
- Exploring alternative career options
- Fill in knowledge gaps / build up portfolio to demonstrate relevant skills
- Create resume, cover letter, apply, interview, etc.
For example, it took me about a year to find a non-clinical job, and that was with a degree in Computer Science with past work experience. So depending on your background and the requirements of the new career path you choose, I would start by assuming that your career transition will take anywhere between 0-3 years to complete. As your transition plan becomes more concrete, you may find that you can make the transition in 1-2 years, or even less. Remember, for better or worse, your board certification status will affect your job prospects (I wrote about this in Part 2).
Keep in mind, you don’t have to stay in the healthcare arena if you don’t want to. Think about all the work you put into your medical career. If you apply a fraction of that effort into any other field, chances are you’ll be just fine. And contrary to what you may think, you’ve gained skills and knowledge along the way that are transferable to other fields, so your training was not for nothing.
Full medical licensure
Determine whether or not you’re eligible for a full medical license. This can open up some doors for you, check out the FAQ for more details. If you require a license for your next job, apply ASAP because it can take a few months.
Detailed Financial Plan
Everyone’s financial situation is different, so I can’t say much other than make sure you have a short-term and long-term plan. This will depend on whether or not you have student loans, a family to support, a family/partner who can support YOU, an emergency fund, etc. Again, the books in the Resources page address this much better than I ever could. For what it’s worth, I do briefly mention my situation in My Story.
Determine how you will get health insurance if you will be unemployed for some time. I went through healthcare.gov initially.
That’s the end of the guide! There’s much more website, so go explore and feel free to give me feedback of any kind!