Alternative Career Paths for Med Students (Organized By Personality Type)
Published on Jul 28, 2020. Updated on Mar 25, 2021.
Ever wonder if a career in medicine is really right for you? Today on the Osmosis blog, OMEF Hafsa Sulaiman shares a humorous account of career prospects outside the clinic, organized by medical student personality type. Which one are you?
I’m writing this article in a busy café by the beach, and I can’t help but wonder how I got here. There are days when I don’t know the answer to the most basic of anatomy questions, and others when I feel like a bona fide genius. Every day, I wonder, is this life meant for me? In times like these, I start thinking about job prospects outside the medical field.
The truth is, no one’s the same. As you grow up, you aren’t the same person you were last year, or the year before. Beyond that, your goals change: you develop new opinions and you meet new people who inspire you in many ways. As such, some people decide after completing their degree and their residency that medicine is simply too much, or not enough.
Some doctors decide to move abroad, experience a new culture, maybe travel a bit. Others are more creative and develop medical technology or apps. Many start up families, while others bail to escape the burnout epidemic that plagues our profession.
What if I told you that this could be you? What if I told you that the degree that’s in that thick rose-gold frame behind the desk on your wall does not define you, and you can do much more than what it states you can do?
Here are some options to expand your horizons—and just for fun, I’ve arranged them by personality types I've seen in medical school. Which one are you?
Alternative careers for physicians (based on your personality in medical school)
1. The Human Wikipedia
There’s always a person who has a seemingly-impossible wealth of knowledge at their disposal. I have been fortunate to have Wikipedias in my life who are excellent at explaining the pathophysiology of diseases or deciphering what the hip professor was trying to explain for the last 30 minutes with his cool mnemonics.
Students with this quality might consider signing up to teach and using their talents to influence the medical leaders of future generations. So if you enjoy teaching and research, you could join faculties at universities, and write course curriculums.
My motto is, if Matthew McConaughey can do it, so can you.
2. The Black Tie Lover
Some students prefer to trade in their scrubs and white coats for suits and ties; by that, I mean work for pharmaceutical sales and medical insurance companies. These physicians can help in areas of research and product development based on their knowledge of drugs and treatment gaps in the market. They can also develop patient care guidelines and even help write those papers that you find in medication boxes (the ones most people throw away).
3. The Matchmaker
I know you’re thinking of the cupid in your class, but when I say Matchmaker, it’s not limited to love advice. There are students who love advising people. Whether it’s for relationship advice, career advice, or well-being advice, they are there for you (sometimes, whether you like it or not!)
For Matchmakers, there’s this thing called healthcare consultancy, which basically involves advising companies on developing new technology for healthcare, integrating new products or technology into the hospital, or even helping companies with mergers or acquisitions.
4. The Assignment Expert
Imagine being the J.R.R. Tolkien of health? Health writing exists!
You know the infamous book that almost all of us have had to deal with for exam prep—First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 by Dr. Tao Le. Maybe you’ve heard of it? That’s just one example!
Did you enjoy your assignments in undergrad and postgrad? If you’re nodding then you may be perfect for textbook development, writing health pamphlets and publications for magazines and websites (or writing for Osmosis!)
5. The Suits Fan
As a diehard Harvey Spector fan, I can tell you, law was fascinating for me. If you’re on a similar wavelength, you could be an expert witness or a medical malpractice expert.
If schmoozing with lawyers isn’t your thing, maybe you could work on cases to help physicians fight lawsuits. If you enjoy Marvel movies, you could don a metaphorical cape and use that clinical expertise to fight for justice. This way, you always win.
6. The Creative Genius
Being a doctor does not mean that you completely switch off your creative side. Some doctors create apps or develop products that can improve health delivery for patients.
For instance, look up wireless brain sensors: these nifty gadgets can be placed in the brain to measure the temperature and pressure, reducing the need for surgery. As an added (and in my opinion, miraculous) bonus, they dissolve when they’re no longer needed. This was developed by a partnership between Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Illinois engineers.
All this to say… If you have a cool idea, write it down. One day, it might exist! (I don’t know about you but I’m copyrighting the idea of developing brain Bluetooth devices so none of us ever need to take exams again.)
7. The Wanderer
Until COVID-19 came along, globalization had made practicing medicine anywhere in the world easier than it had ever been. Once things clear up and we’re free to roam the world again, Wanderer might consider the global cruise ship for medics.
With this opportunity, you are paid to travel around the world. Some experiences include chilling on the beaches of the Caribbean, scuba diving in Hawaii and dog sledding in Alaska.
To save you hours of googling, I recommend you check out the Atlantic Medical Recruitment—they source qualified medical experts for passenger cruise ships.
8. The FBI Fanatic
Some people are born detectives who live for mystery and adventure. If you’re one of them, think about going back to school for residency or fellowship training in forensics.
My undergraduate forensic professor crushed some of my dreams when they made it clear that the movies exaggerate forensic examinations a fair bit. Who knew that acquiring DNA from fiber samples could be so hard?
9. The Influencer
Confession: I think watching pimples being popped is therapeutic (yes, I can literally hear your screams from over here in England). So, who am I talking about here? Dr. Pimple Popper, also known as Dr. Sandra Lee.
Dr. Pimple Popper began posting videos on pimple popping and noticed the popularity of her Instagram videos of skin extractions. Following this popularity, she managed to sign with TLC to have her own TV series—how cool is that?
For a more glamorous example of That Influencer Life, you might turn to Dr. Mike Varshavski, commonly known as Dr. Mike. He’s a celebrity doctor who went viral after being featured on Buzzfeed as the Sexiest Doctor Alive. He’s got a YouTube channel and he’s even been invited to The Ellen Show.
Whatever you end up choosing, know that while diversifying your medical career or moving into a different path can be very challenging and honestly kind of scary, it’s also thrilling—the possibilities are truly endless..
At the end of the day it’s all in your hands, the world is your oyster you just need a different lens to appreciate it. Even if you didn’t find your dream career option here, I hope you enjoyed reading my blog. Happy studying!
Hafsa Omer Sulaiman is a second year medical student at the St. George University of London. Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Hafsa considers herself part of the “Wanderer” group of medical students, as she loves to travel: she managed to visit Turkey, London, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, and Hungary during her first year at medical school! When she’s not studying, Hafsa spends her free time meeting new people, working out at the gym, or recording episodes for her podcast, Confessions of a Doctoholic.
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