There are all kinds of reasons you might be considering changing your career. Exploring other options can be a positive and healthy experience, even if, as happens more frequently than may be envisaged, the decision is made to stay within medicine. 

So, if you are considering a change, are there any realistic alternatives? 

Whatever stage you are at in your career, there are options. People can and do make a successful transition to other types of employment because they’ve built up invaluable transferable skills and experience.

Consider some of the most frequent skills and qualities asked for by employers:
  • Able to work well under pressure
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • An effective team member
  • Able to act on own initiative
  • Ability to manage self and others
  • Problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Responsible
  • Reliable.
 The list goes on, and as a medical professional you meet them all. So it’s not so much “What can I do?” as “How do I choose from the wide range open to me?”

Where to start?

You may know, or have some idea, of the direction you would like to take. If this is the case, then your next step is to find out more about your chosen direction.

If you are not sure, asking yourself these questions might provide a useful starting point:
  • Do you want to leave medicine and its associated careers altogether? Or would you prefer to use your medical knowledge and skills in a related career area?
  • Public service or private sector?
  • What skills and qualities do you have that you feel are not currently being used but would like to use? For example: analytical skills, communication with other organisations and agencies, creative skills, financial management.
  • What skills are you being asked increasingly to use but feel less confident/ dislike using?
 Prospects, the UK’s official graduate website, has some useful tools on generic careers planning.

“I have some ideas. How do I find out more?”

Obviously the internet is a good resource for finding out about different careers.
  • The National Careers Service has useful information about opportunities and careers advice for mature entrants.
  • Prospects is another good general resource and has some helpful information under their ‘Options’ series.

One-to-one careers Advice

Talking things through with a qualified careers advisor is recommended.
  • If you are training in the Severn Deanery you are entitled to use the Careers Advisory Service.
  • The university where you graduated often also offer careers counselling to graduates for up to three years after graduation.
  • The BMA offer a careers guidance service to their members and use a nationally accredited careers service to provide this.
You could also approach a private careers consultancy, but check the qualifications of the person you will be speaking to before parting with your money. Careers guidance qualifications include the Diploma in Careers Guidance, NVQ4 in Advice and Guidance and Qualification in Careers Guidance. If you are not sure of a qualification, you can always check this with the Career Development Institute

How hard will it be to make the change?

To an extent, that depends upon what you decide to do and the career you move into.

You may have to adjust to changes in salary, working hours, a more target-driven environment and change in status to name a few. Some people find these changes challenging, others find them liberating.

For some their only regret is that they didn’t make the change years ago.

A note of caution: if you're not sure if you may want to return to medicine at some point, ensure you have a back-up plan or are sufficiently qualified to make the return a smooth transition.

And finally…

  • Don’t rush your decision about whether to leave medicine. All careers have aspects which are mundane or stressful; everyone has days when they don’t want to do that job anymore.
  • Weigh up the pros and cons, talk to people in the careers you are considering, talk to people who know you well but ultimately make your own decision.
  • It may be that you just need some time out, or that you need to make a move within medicine, whatever the decision, make sure it is the right one for you.

Further Resources