Having just returned from the Leaders in Healthcare conference I’m thinking a lot about the linear nature of medical careers.

With other Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) Coaches, I had the opportunity to offer Speed Coaching to delegates and contributed to a number of breakout sessions. Hearing people talk about their career (whether early, mid or later) I was reminded of how difficult it can be for people to diverge from the usual path.

We know that the medical education and training pathway is long and hard. It clearly requires immense dedication, effort and focus. But it might not give people the time to think laterally or longer term about their options, ideas or passions.

I know that the situation is better than it used to be and people can take career breaks, fellowships and transfers, and equally I know the service need is significant – we need people on the ground. However, those who do take alternative pathways often feel isolated and can be made to feel bad about their choices.

People who have taken a divergent path often say they have benefited enormously and cite the following:

  • strengthened confidence and therefore resilience
  • increased sense of purpose and highly developed interest areas
  • better worklife balance and life perspective
  • broader and more diverse networks

And they sometimes say they think it makes them a better doctor.

I still think we have one of the best medical education systems in the world, despite the interference of the government. But I think it is useful to reflect on the route and destination – might it be worth being a bit divergent?

Early Career Doctors  – consider a year away from clinical practice as a National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow with the FMLM CLICK HERE. 

Next application round starts this month for fellowships to start September 2018. CLICK HERE for an idea of the timeline.

If you would like to talk to me about your career development needs call me on 07540 593476 or email me at alexis@alexishutson.com. 

I am working with a number of doctors at the moment who are considering alternative careers or managing careers that don’t follow a traditional path.

 

Although the education and training pathway for medicine is narrow and long, people don’t necessarily want their whole career to be prescribed or predictable. Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 07.50.06And what I often find is that people who are considering doing things differently are very anxious about how this may be viewed or valued. The investment both financially and personally in becoming a doctor is significant, so to potentially challenge this position is hard. And of course there is a whole section of the workforce who are now considering leaving medicine altogether due to the unrelenting pressures and personal challenges they are being made to face.

In this blog I’ll address alternative careers (actually stepping away from medicine) and different career paths (doing things differently, but within medicine).

Alternative Careers

So what could you do? There are lists on the internet that give options and ideas for doctors; what their medical degree and experience might lead to. I’m not sure these are that helpful though. If you are lucky enough to spot the ideal career for you in a list, then great. But if you are uninspired by the choices, you can still feel rudderless and frustrated.

As well as the practical and financial considerations, I think that one of the most important reflections you must consider is what kind of life do you want to lead. Family, health and wellbeing, time to think and create, opportunities for volunteering – and many others. In addition, what kinds of skills do you enjoy using. Not necessarily healthcare delivery, but perhaps people development or writing? What do you really get engrossed in and energised by?

See the link below for the national conference in April on ‘Alternative Career Paths for Doctors’.

Different Career Paths

Just because someone hasn’t done it before, doesn’t mean it is not possible. Everyone’s medical career is different and comparing yourself to others can be very unhelpful. What is also frustrating is that it can appear unclear how people have developed their careers; its often invisible how people have created their working arrangements and interests. But medicine affords people the opportunity to be a part of a clear and defined role, but also the opportunity to specialise and diversify in many different directions. It can take time and exploration to work this out, so be patient. If there is one trait that I see most often with doctors, it is the desire to learn and keep developing so taking risks, keeping your options open and trying out new things is key to capitalising on opportunities.

Final thought..

The most important part of this process is to approach it from the right direction. That is, don’t consider stepping away from medicine, focus on what you want to step towards, and perhaps medicine might play a role in that. As some educationalists are now approaching young people differently with ‘don’t ask a student what they want to be when they grow up – ask them what problem they want to solve’, then perhaps we should apply the same to ourselves.

Useful Links and resources

There are more, but here is a selection for you to access:

It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it’s called Life.” Terry Pratchett.

If you would like to talk over your development call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at 

alexishutson@yahoo.com

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