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« An Interview With Physician & Author Ken Cohn | Main | 6 Simple Tips To Embrace Stock Market Panics »

How Do You Diversify Your Skills As A Physician?

How Do You Move Into A Nonclinical Job Or Diversify Your Skill Set?

If you are trying to work towards diversifying your career or transition into a nonclinical career, you may wonder if you have the skills necessary for a job outside of direct patient care.

As a doctor, you can do just about anything you want to do.  But it’s not easy to be confident when you don’t know how to proceed and we aren’t taught to ask for help.

When I was trying to do it, I got caught up in how unsure I felt about what I wanted to do and how to actually do it.  As a result, I lost confidence in myself and that was a mistake.   Without confidence in myself, I didn’t have the positive thinking needed for translating my skills and seeing all the opportunities out there.

Many doctors wonder if they need to go back to school to take the next step in their careers.  While you can never go wrong getting an education, defaulting back to a full time alternate degree program is rarely the best way to go.  It isn’t the “next logical step” to spend more money and time back in school.   However, if you choose to pursue an MBA, MHA, MPH or some other degree, there are many excellent programs, some specifically tailored towards a physician.

But remember this; becoming a doctor gives you a unique skill set that can be translated to fit almost any industry.  Think about how often you’ve dealt with conflict and how often you’ve contributed to increased growth and revenue.  Why is that important?  Does that confuse you?  You’re not alone.  We aren’t trained to think that way in medical school, residency or beyond.   But these are the ways your skills are valued in a non-clinical career and your skills are translatable. 

Here are a few ideas on how to get started or how to move forward if you have already started considering diversification of your skill set and exploration into the non-clinical realm. 

  1. Determine if there are associations or societies dedicated towards professionals in the fields you want to explore.  For example, if you are interested in healthcare information technology, make it a point to explore the resources on the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) website.  Since you are reading this post, you have already found Freelance MD and you should make it a goal to fully explore all the resources and people available here.
  2. Look into certificate programs in the area(s) you find interesting and are the subject of current hiring trends.  Quality, process improvement, leadership and information technology are areas of opportunity right now.  Resources like the American College of Physician Executives are helpful for these opportunities but there are other resources for certificate programs. 
  3. Consider the big picture.  I made several mistakes when I was transitioning and I try to help others avoid pitfalls by making sure they take everything into account.  Things like lifestyle, salary requirements, geographic location, etc. are equally important in this journey.  If you don’t consider them, even your perfect job may seem like the wrong thing.  It’s important to set yourself up for success as much as possible by looking at all aspects of your life.
  4. Put together a Personal Development Plan (PDP).   Please see a previous post on why is this important and how to do this at
  5. Consider nonclinical options and network with other doctors who are also interested in other options.  Not sure where to start doing this?  In addition to Freelance MD, there are resources with information directed specifically at physicians and non-clinical careers.  For example, visit the Physician Renaissance Network at 

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