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Entries in Nonclinical Career (29)


The Best Way To Find And Choose A Good Career Coach?

Are You A Physician Who Needs Help With Your Non-clinical Career Search?  

Have you been thinking about transitioning for a while and are you considering hiring a coach to help you?

Here’s some advice for choosing the right person to help you.

Know who’s giving the advice: Make sure the person you’re hiring is the actual person doing the coaching rather than a salesperson who has staff doing the actual coaching.   By the same token, stay away from resume mills that have staff do all the client work.

It is often better to work with someone who has experience:  Consider that “certified” coaches often have very little actual experience helping people find jobs. Many have tried to break into coaching/resume work by taking an inexpensive certification class that gives them “magic” initials after their name.  The certification isn’t the problem, it’s that these people have little prior job search or coaching experience.  

Choosing a physician versus a non-physician: A coach with a physician background has the unique perspective of what works for another physician and usually understands the challenges unique to a non-clinical transition.  Most physician coaches do a good job helping other physicians translate their CV’s to good non-clinical resumes.  If the prospective coach is not a doctor, make sure he or she has worked with doctors before and has successfully helped them find the particular jobs and companies that work well with doctors.

Understand what “success rate” means: Success is often defined by job placement but a coach is not responsible for placing someone into a job.  A coach should be guiding and leading you towards the right job and situation and connecting you with people who may further help you in your goals.  Remember that you are ultimately responsible for your success, even if you are working with a recruiter who does place individuals into jobs.  Instead of evaluating a coach on job placement, talk to the prospective coach about his or her past experience with others.  Asking for references is another good way to help you determine how a coach works with other clients. 

Make sure this person “gets” you: Explain your career issues, past work, individual work/life balance needs and geographic restrictions during an initial call. Ask questions of your prospective coach to understand how he or she will help you overcome your specific barriers and work within your situation to fulfill your needs.

Remember that cheap isn’t always quality: Quality coaches charge more.  Coaching is a personal service, and you get what you pay for here.   A good rule of thumb is to plan on spending more than a few thousand dollars but less than $10,000 on coaching.  Remember that physician career transition is very difficult (otherwise, why would you be hiring someone to help you in the first place?) so paying this sort of money is usually justified.

At some point, you’ve got to just make a decision:  As you weed through opposing opinions, remember that if you ask ten people about your resume, you’ll get ten different opinions, often conflicting. Open your mind to alternative approaches and determine which opinion seems right for your specific situation. 

Ultimately, it’s important to remember to go with your gut: Your gut is usually a pretty good judge.  Make sure you feel comfortable with this person from the onset.   Usually you’ll get a sense of that from the initial phone call and e-mails as you ask this person questions about their services.

In the recent years, "coaching" has become a fad.  That's unfortunate because it gives coaching somewhat of a trendy feel and can be seen from a slimy/slick perspective by others.   I appreciate that Atul Gawande, such a master of words and communication, has given the world a thoughtful view of coaching.  His article can be viewed here:

A word of disclosure – I’ve served as a coach for physicians looking to transition to a non-clinical career for the past eight years.  However, I’m not the only one on FreelanceMD who provides this valuable service.  In addition, there are others out there (physicians and otherwise) who also coach doctors looking to make a transition.


Transition Tool For Physicians #1: Turning Your CV Into A Resume

In my coaching work with physicians, one of my favorite things that many of my clients do is send me their CV so that I can get a feel for who they are and what they've done.

Those CVs, while usually an impressive (and lengthy) foray into their education, academic experience, clinical positions and copious lectures and publications, often leave me still questioning who they are are what they bring to the table when considering a career outside of the clinical realm.

You know your CV:  a long list of your academic degrees, certifications, clinical positions, appointments and publications.  By now in your career it is probably 10-20 pages at least.  It reflects your professional position and progression.  But it has no place in a non-clinical career search.

Let me tell you why.

Industries outside of medicine are not the place for drawn-out reviews of where you've been, what you've done.  Instead of a CV, these environments require you to have a resume, a persuasive document that reflects who you are (your unique combination of skills, experiences and passion), and what you've accomplished (that is, problems you've solved) as a professional.

The best resumes also reflect how you will be able to solve the particular need / problem that your target industry or company faces.  They are tailored and individualized to the reader.

Granted, developing a resume like this take work.  Many docs, who yes, are extremely busy, decide that they want to skip this step and instead turn their 20-page CV over to a professional resume writing service that within a few weeks (and hundreds of dollars later) turns back to them a polished, slick, great-sounding resume.  But here's the problem:  often those resumes are just that, great "sounding", but with the guts that describe you and helps the prospective employer understand how you will add value to them.  A great-sounding resume can begin to feel very hollow if it doesn't address the unique challenges of a target industry (company, job role, etc.) but instead speaks in generalities of skills or experience.  It will quickly find itself on the pile of many other great-sounding resumes, which are also devoid of real content that brings (and keeps) employers' attention.

 You need to change your CV to a resume, and you need to make it stand out.  So how do you start?

Get to know the difference between a CV and a resume

CVs are typically lists of your "vitals":  your education, employment, research, publications, awards, patents, etc.  Resumes are meant to be persuasive descriptions of who you are and what you bring to the table, ones that demonstrate to any given reader that you can solve their unique business problem.  Your resume is less about you... instead it should tell your prospective employer what you can do for them.

Learn how to speak to your experience/expertise as a set of accomplishments

Rather than listing out previous job responsibilities or skills, look at your background in terms of the results you've achieved.  Think hard about what you've accomplished over the course of your career so far, brainstorm them out and frame your professional experience around those.

Use powerful, persuasive words to frame your accomplishments

Not just sound-bites (which can come off as "sales-pitchy"), but actual challenges you've faced, things you've done to address them, and results you've achieved ... particularly as they relate to the position/company/industry you're interested in.

Tailor it to resonate with whoever is reading your resume

Recognize that your resume is a living document - it will change and morph over time, with the addition of new accomplishments and different audiences who read it.  Your first pass is just that - your first pass.  Make sure your resume evolves along with you - update it regularly and for whoever is considering it.

Keep your resume in its place

Developing their resume is often the first place an eager, ambitious physician wants to start.  But recognize that in the grand scheme of physician career transition, the creation of a resume is not the number one step in a successful career transformation!  It is not likely that your big-break, your non-clinical job, or your "big opportunity" will come as a result of an impressive piece of paper.  This is not to say that the resume is not important - it is - but it is only a single element of a successful transition.

Make sure that you've done your homework first, to understand how you uniquely add value to any given industry or role.  Through a thorough analysis of your values, your unique skills, your passions, your education/past experience, you will see what you bring to the table as a whole, and how it applies to the role you're interested in.  You as a physician come with a myriad of transferable skills that can (and will) benefit companies in different industries.  But without this analysis, you cannot build a persuasive resume that hits the target "pain points"  of any given employer and demonstrates how you will solve their problem (and that you can).

With some thought and customization you can take your CV from an academic exercise to a compelling representation of you that makes people want to talk to you.  Start at the beginning.  Think about your accomplishments and how they relate to your target audience.  Make it about them, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how it is received.  Good luck!


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 

Medical Fusion Conference Lecture Videos Available

Freelance MD has become a great place for physicians to learn more about ways they can leverage their medical training in order to advance their careers.  This web hub is a great distance-learning tool to connect like-minded physicians and promote learning.

The live/physical version of Freelance MD is our Medical Fusion Conference which occurs every November in Las Vegas.  At the Medical Fusion Conference we bring together experts from a variety of niche areas-- many of whom write for Freelance MD-- in order to network and connect person to person.  It's an event that only happens once a year, so we eagerly promote it here on Freelance MD with the hope that our readers will pencil the event into their busy schedules.  We want to meet our Freelance MD members and we know you'll benefit from the speakers we've assembled.

Over the past few weeks we've reorganized our Medical Fusion Conference website to make it more interactive and give potential participants an idea of what happens at this innovative event.  We recently added a blog to the Medical Fusion Conference website and we've posted a few lecture clips from past Medical Fusion Conferences.

Check out the videos below to get an idea as to what goes on at the Medical Fusion Conference.  We'll be posting more lecture clips in the near future, so stay tuned to Freelance MD.  

Video clip #1:  In this video, we assembled a team of venture capitalists to discuss VC and how clinical physicians can become a part of this interesting career.  Dr. Bruce Robertson, Managing Director of H.I.G. Bioventures, Dr. Josh Resnick of Prism Ventures, and Dr. Joe Smith, VP of Emerging Technology at Johnson & Johnson are the members of this interesting panel discussion.


 Video Clip #2:  Dr. Michael VanRooyen in the director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and a well-known expert on humanitarian disasters.  However, Dr. VanRooyen is also an experienced entrepreneur and has helped start and develop four businesses, one of which, Ibex, was eventually bought by Picis for millions.  In this lecture, Dr. VanRooyen discusses the culture of start-up companies and how clinical physicians can develop their business skills in order to be more effective in enterprises like these.


Video Clip #3:  Dr. Mike Woo-Ming, a Family Physician who retired from medicine at the age of 35 years old in order to focus on his internet businesses, discusses internet marketing and internet entrepreneurship.  "Dr. Mike" as he is known in internet circles, offers advice to those who are interested in using the internet to leverage their clinical knowledge in a variety of ways.


McKinsey Consulting Gigs For Physicians

McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm with nearly 9,000 consultants in 90 offices across 50 countries, is hosting two exciting summer programs for students working towards advanced professional degrees: Insight Healthcare and Insight Engineering & Science.  

These programs will give non-MBA advanced degree students an insider's look into management consulting.  Each of the comprehensive seminars will cover a range of topics important to those who are exploring alternative career possibilities.  Program agendas include an overview of management consulting, an introduction to the type of work we do, a management consulting case study, and an opportunity to network with colleagues and participate in social activities. 

Insight Healthcare
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
June 23 – 26, 2011 Application deadline: April 20, 2011 >

Qualified Applicants for Insight Healthcare should be:

  • Completing an MD, a medical internship, residency or fellowship in 2012 or 2013
  • Completing a PhD or post-doc in healthcare related disciplines including biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry or immunology in 2012
  • Currently residing in the United States or Canada
  • Available to attend the entire event starting at 5:30 p.m. on the evening of Thursday, June 23rd and ending at 1:30 p.m. on the afternoon of Sunday, June 26th

No business experience required. All expenses will be paid by McKinsey & Company.

There are more nonclinical jobs


Do Physicians Need a "Personal Brand"?

Only if you want to stand out from the crowd, and successfully build your reputation and patient base.

I have the pleasure of going to Chicago in few weeks to attend the Society of Interventional Radiology's annual scientific sessions, and to help facilitate a workshop for physicians on marketing.  While I know that "marketing" is not a new concept to most, the point I'm going to be making about how they, the physician, are the most integral part of the marketing equation, may be.  Shifting their perspective from only looking at what they do, to who they are and how they do things, may be a challenge.  But for docs who (perhaps for the first time) are recognizing the increased competition in the marketplace and the need for marketing to "keep up", it is a message they need to hear.

And why should they care?  Why worry about "brand"?  If you think about your overall goal as a professional, it truly is about growth.  For my IR crowd the bottom line is about leveling the playing field with other docs/specialties that have been marketing themselves longer and have a much higher comfort level with it.  It is about increasing referrals, increasing the number of desireable procedures that the IR docs perform, and establishing a solid patient base for future referrals and procedures.  For anyone, it is about developing a reputation that makes people want to work with you, that allows them to trust you, and gives them an expectation of quality and delivery that meets their unique needs. Creating your brand helps you do this.  And I'll tell you why.

I recognize that the word brand has a bit of a negative connotation for many people... it somehow feels fake, or superficial.  But the first thing that should be understood is that developing your own personal brand is not about creating a contrived image or slick packaging covered in snappy slogans.  It is not an artifical veneer that you put on yourself to disguise or change what's within.  Quite the contrary, your brand is about creating a relationship with others, in a way that is authentically you and connected to your core values.  It is about how you visibly express those values, and the consistency with which you demonstrate them in your work.  Your brand is about building relationships that are based on trust.

Recognize however, that your brand is only as strong as how others perceive you.  Perception of your value is key.  Your brand - what you bring to the table, your "whole package" - exists in the mind of others, based on who they've known you to be and what they've known you to do.  It is a factor of both two things:  your competence (what you do) as well as your character (who you are).  Recognizing this is critical.  How can you create the perception you want others to have of you?

In their book,  "Be Your Own Brand:  Achieve More of What You Want By Being More of Who You Are", experts David McNally and Karl Speak talk about the specific things that you must have to truly build your brand and create the perception of value you need to be successful.  For them, there are three core elements to your brand:

  1. You need to be distinctive:  where you decide what you stand for (your values) and you commit to act on them.  You recognize your unique value (based on your skills, experience, expertise, values, and point of view), and know what sets you apart.  You capitalize on that, not by selling yourself, but by connecting with others based on your unique value.

  2. You need to be relevant:  where you have figured out who your customers are (referring docs?  hospital admin?  patients?), and what their needs are.  You move out of your world and into theirs... you figure out what's in it for them, and how your unique value meets their needs.  Start asking yourself, what do they want?  need?  value?   expect?  ... and then connect those thing to your unique strengths and abilities.  Being both distinctive and relevant in the eyes of others that count, is truly what ignites a personal brand.

  3. You need to be consistent:  where you meet the needs of your customers, and you do that again and again and again.  This is the hallmark of a solid brand - every time you meet someone's expectation of you, you build your brand and you build trust and confidence in the relationship.  Consistency is established by the dependability of your behavior, and this builds your track record and reputation.

Improving Your Perceived Value:

Traditionally, many physicians have only focused on their competence, or what they do.... their skills, their services, their technical knowledge and expertise.   And truly, it is the basis for any brand relationship (you can't build a reputation if you don't have the comptence to back it up).  It is the fundamental reason why you will be in the professional relationship with someone else.  However, it is recognized in the competitive marketplace that one's competence is only the baseline expectation that others have of you. It is required, but likely it will be perceived by others as fairly similar to your colleagues (even as much as you would argue that!).  Standing out also requires bringing in the elements of your character that people perceive about you.

Your character is really comprised of two things:  your standards (how you do things) and your style (the way you interact and communicate with others).  Your standards are what drive the way you deliver your skills/services.  They tend to set you apart from others - e.g., are you known as a meticulous, perfectionist?  or someone who has a high tolerance for ambiguity? ... no matter what they are, they are based on your values, and highly influence how others perceive you.  Importantly, your standards cannot only be lip-service - until you demonstrate them on a regular basis, people will not be completely bought into your brand.  They will not fully trust that you do what you say you do.  For example, if you want to be perceived as committed to excellence, what are your quality standards and how do you demonstrate them?  Recognize that people cannot see your intentions, only your actions, so delivery of your standards is critical.

Your style tends to be the piece that most people think of when they think of "brand".  It is your personality, and often has a strong, emotional connotation for people.  For example, people may see you as friendly, easygoing, strong, aggressive, etc.  It can carry a heavy weight for people when deciding when/how they want to work with you.  While style is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your overall brand, it is the most visible to others.  As such, it can be used as an important navigational aide when it comes to figuring out how you want to be perceived.  The good news is that there are many things you can do to strengthen your skills in this area.

In my work coaching physicians we often do a lot of skill development in this area, and here are my top 5 suggestions for improving your brand by enhancing your "perceived value": 

  1. Become an expert communicator.  Your ability in this area is one of the key factors that affects how you are perceived by others.  The greatest skill you can have in order to instantly and significantly improve your communication skill is to understand other person's point of view.  Do this through collaborative listening, where you pay attention (no multi-tasking while someone's talking to you!), clarify what you think you heard, and ask for more detail.  Poor listening is the key ingredient in many communciation breakdowns.  If we don't listen and clarify, we are likely to misunderstand the facts, which can have negative results.  You can also improve your communication via the use of open and positive body language - e.g., keeping arms relaxed, making eye contact (not "glazing over", but genuine eye contact), leaning into the speaker, but maintaining appropriate physical space/distance.  Managing your assumptions when communicating is also critical - be aware of any assumptions you bring into the conversation, and try to double-check them with the other person (e.g., I've assume XYZ, is that accurate?").  Good communication is often sabotaged by too many unconfirmed assumptions. 
  2. Be congruent to build trust.  Congruence = Integrity.  "Walking your talk" allows people to see that there is no gap between your intent and your behavior.  Inner congruence to your belief system and your principles (which is an essential part of your brand), inspires trust in relationships.  People see you as strong, solid and dependable, they know what to expect and it validates their confidence in you.
  3. Have a consistent professional presence.  There is power in your professional presence - it is an inherent part of your style and your brand.  Do you have the ability to make a good first impression and keep it?  People will start to see you in this way, and reputation follows.  Small things can make a huge difference: e.g., respecting other peoples' time as well as you own, demonstrating body language that shows you are comfortable in professional situations, making good eye contact and demonstrating interest in others, being organized and in control of what you present, smiling appropriately and using professional language, keeping a professional distance until it is appropriate to be more familiar.  Your professional behavior needs to follow you in all avenues:  in-person, over email, on the phone, and online ... you must be consistent.
  4. Be honest and transparent in your intent.  This is about establishing a balance.  Being transparent, or clear and truthful in your dealings with others does NOT mean that you have to "lay all your cards on the table" with others.  It means that you are transparent with appropriate information and with what you're trying to accomplish.  When people perceive you this way, there is no fear of hidden agendas or having to second-guess you.  There is no misunderstanding (whether unintentionally or not) your intent.  Bottom-line:  figure out what is appropriate to share in each situation, and do so with truthfulness and authenticity.  Err on the side of disclosure vs. keeping things hidden.  People will appreciate it, and trust in your relationships will increase rapidly.
  5. Deliver the results you promise.  The best thing that you can do to establish a new relationship and build trust with a customer is to deliver results.  It gives you instant credibility and  demonstrates that you can add value and perform, and live up to your brand.  If you can do this consistently, you build trust, or what the experts call "brand equity".  Every time you deliver you create a deposit into this account.  The best way to ensure that you deliver is by doing two things:  1)  clarifying "results" up front and managing expectations from the get-go - sometimes people deliver but don't get the response they expected because they didn't take the time up front to establish clarity... don't assume that you know what "results" mean to the other person!, and 2)  ask yourself whether the commitment is realistic - you must make sure you always  underpromise and overdeliver.  To do it the other way around is the quickest way to blow your credibility and to diminish your brand.

For some, the points above are second nature.  There are people out there that are inherently gifted in these things.  But physicians - as a group! -  have not traditionally been on the higher part of the bell curve in this regard, which is understandable.  Medical school doesn't choose you for your ability to relate to others - you get chosen because you excel academically, and then are taught to be technically skilled.  Unless you were lucky enough to have a mentor that was good at these things, no-one was teaching you how to relate to your patients, colleagues or staff in a way that built these skills.  Continued individualistic practice keeps many physicians limited in their ability to build these skills and perform to their highest capability.  Many don't understand why they have such a difficult time keeping patients happy (even though their technical skills are excellent), or why they tend to have conflict after conflict with peers.

But, the good news is that these things can be learned and practiced.  You can become experts in these "soft skills", the things which are now understood as what distinguishes the top performers from everybody else (true across industries and geographies - see Daniel Goleman's work on Emotional Intelligence).  They can truly be what sets YOU apart from your peers, and an inherent part of both your standards and your style.  They can set your personal brand apart.

How do you build these skills?  Find a mentor - someone you know that excels at these things, and learn from them.  Model their behavior and ways of interacting/communicating - see if you can can become more comfortable doing it.  Or, work with someone like me - a coach who is skilled at helping docs enhance these skills and attain higher levels of performance and professional fulfillment.  Or, do it yourself - do your own self-guided learning through books, readings, exercises, and practicing new skills. See if it starts to make a difference for you and how you are perceived.  I guarantee it will.


First Nonclincal Physician Jobs Posted

Physician Advisor Houston: Accretive Health has posted the first nonclinical job to our new nonclinincal jobs board!

If you're looking for physicians to fill a nonclinical job, please post it. It's free (for now), which is a terriffic price.

Our goal is to add not only nonclinical jobs, but volunteer, temporary and unusual jobs for docs.

Click to read more ...

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