Are you debating if you want to continue working as a physician in medicine or to start looking for other opportunities in your career?
Talented physicians are needed in both clinical and nonclinical roles. In today’s healthcare system an epidemic not often discussed is physician burn out. The reasons for this work-related syndrome is multi-factorial and recently listed in a review article by Mayo clinic (Rochester, NY) physician Dr. Colin West MD, PhD et al (2018). West et al (2018) concluded that studies involving both physicians-in-training and practicing physicians have shown that burnout involves emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a sense of reduced personal accomplishment. A 2016 study found that almost half of the practicing physicians surveyed had one or more symptoms of burnout and plan to cut back on hours, retire, take a non-clinical job, switch to “concierge” medicine, or take other steps that will further limit patient access (Physicians foundation, 2016).
Not only have rates of physician burnout been associated with adverse effects on patients and the overall cost to the healthcare system, but also to the very doctors who are trained to treat the public’s serious health conditions (Shanafelt, 2012).
The major causes of this epidemic include:
- Excessive workloads
- Inefficient work processes
- Clerical burdens
- Work-home conflicts
- Lack of input or control for physicians with respect to issues affecting their work lives
- Organizational support structures
- Leadership culture
While many U.S. industries are navigating fundamental disruption, the life-sciences industry, which includes pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical-device manufacturing continues to experience growth. The industry’s growth is expanding due to the aging U.S. population, increases in public and private funding, hefty job gains and robust construction of lab and R&D space. The list of jobs for doctors in the life science industry is endless, as there are so many different aspects of the work. If you’re a physician the following 5 signs will illuminate if you are suited to work outside of clinical medicine in the life science industry. (Heinemann, 2008)
Sign 1: You have lost your passion for medicine due to burnout and know you still want to make a difference in science and people’s lives
Sign 2: You have a strong desire to personally touch people with real-world applications
Sign 3: You feel undervalued in your day-to-day work, especially by the hospital administration, insurance companies, staff and patients
Sign 4: You enjoy meeting new people and new challenges and that isn’t happening in your current role
Sign 5: You have passion and fire to do more and be happier in your work
Most, if not all, of the doctors who switch to a non-clinical life science career are happier than when practicing medicine full time. Most physicians who switch careers earn as much money as they did in clinical medicine, especially when evaluating per hour of work.
West CP, et al. J Intern Med. March 2018. (doi: 10.1111/joim.12752)
Heinemann, L and Hompesch, M. Role of Physicians in the Pharmaceutical Industry and Clinical Research Organizations: Take More Pride in Your Work. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2008 Jul; 2(4): 707–709.
Medscape (2018) 10 Ways to Earn Extra Income with Medical Activities. Retrieved on March 18th 2018
Shanafelt TD, Boone S, Tan L, Dyrbye LN, Sotile W, Satele D, West CP, Sloan J, Oreskovich MR. Burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance among US physicians relative to the general US population. Arch Intern Med. (2012) Oct 8;172(18):1377-85.