Finding the Right Career for Junior Doctors Who Want to Make the Switch

Since childhood, parents and teachers will always ask us the same question “What do you want to become in the future?” While we were young, most of us often thought about becoming  doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers which are common occupations that we’ve heard of. But as we grow older, the answer to that same question changes as we explore more information about other careers.

So to all the junior doctors, try to think about yourself. Have you ever wondered about trying out other fields other than clinical medicine? If you haven’t, perhaps it’s because you just don’t have enough time to find new information about other fields. Or you’re probably really passionate about the medical field. The world out there is big and there are still a lot of new things that we haven’t tried or explored yet. Having a medical degree does not mean you can only become a clinician, you can be much more than that.

Many people, not just doctors, seek a career change. This can be due to many reasons such as those seeking a better work-life balance, not being passionate about their field anymore, or wanting a better salary. No matter the reason, it is completely fine for you to seek change. You do not have to force yourself to go through something you no longer enjoy. 

As with many junior doctors, burnout is a very common and alarming issue, but many are still hesitant to make the jump to another career either due to feelings of guilt and disappointment, or not wanting all that hard work to go to waste. However, it is important for you to put your well-being and interests first. The benefits of a career change has been shown to bring about higher fulfillment and satisfaction levels. 

Many doctors are often unsure about where to begin looking for the right career and fear making the wrong choices. As such, this article serves as a guide for you.

1. Identify and Evaluate Yourself

To find the right career for you, it is important to first evaluate yourself by identifying your interests, skills and values. Ask yourself what aspects of being a doctor or being  in residency you disliked or liked. Was it the long commitment hours? The stressful work culture? The healthcare industry as a whole? This is important in figuring out what your next career will be and to identify which job would satisfy and meet your expectations. Some junior doctors switch to a completely different industry, while others remain in the healthcare industry but take up a different role or occupation. You must decide what’s best for you!

When assessing your interests and skills, reflect on prior times when you enjoyed or were successful in a certain role or activity. This can be anything from past education to work and volunteering experiences. You can also make a list of the skills you’ve gained over the years, and think about how they can be applied to your next career. Lastly, there are also many aptitude tests available online such as CareerExplorer that can help give you an idea as to what you’re best suited for. Ultimately, choosing a career that aligns well with your natural abilities is key to job satisfaction.

You must decide what’s best for you!

2. Research on the Internet

As you brainstorm alternative careers, you can start to do more research online. Using modern technologies available nowadays, you can reach out to quite a bit of information on the internet. There are many websites that can give you guidance and advice to choose which career suits you the best. Throughout the research process, you should always look out for false information and make sure the website is official and reliable. We do not want to get our thoughts influenced by some random strangers on the internet who do not have a thorough experience and knowledge of the field. You can do this by checking the information about the author and making sure that his/her values are not biased.

There are many websites that can give you guidance and advice to choose which career suits you the best.

3. Social Networking

Social networking is an important skill to have and also a good way for you to make connections with doctors who were previously or currently in the same boat as yourself. Getting advice and support from the community will encourage you and help you to move along this difficult journey. Having and maintaining many contacts is also useful as you can reach out to them for future job opportunities and recommendations. You’ll never know when a call you’ve made to a contact you’ve networked with will lead to a promising career.

You never know when a call you’ve made to a contact you ‘ve networked with will lead to a promising career

4. Join A Workshop or Seminar

If you are still feeling lost and cannot decide on which career you should pursue after trying the above methods, joining a workshop or a seminar related to your career challenges might be beneficial for you! For example, if you’re unsure about which careers are available for you out there, you can join some of the job expeditions to explore what jobs are available in the market. You may be shocked to find out about  jobs you never knew existed! As the Chinese saying goes, “When one door closes, another opens”. You will find many opportunities out there that could possibly be the perfect job for you.

According to Higher Education Review, seminars provide an opportunity for us to interact with experts from specific fields, allowing us to learn about the most updated information and useful experience from the speaker.  With the help of expert guidance, it encourages us to explore and learn a new career which may just be the right career for you.

When one door closes, another opens

5. Speak to a Medical doctor Who has Transitioned to the Field You’re Interested in

Once you have identified a field you are interested in, try to initiate talks with some doctors who have transitioned to that field. Introduce yourself to them and ask them about their experience. Who knows, this way, you might find a mentor or two who will help you with your career transition. Make sure to also reach out to past mentors and colleagues to help you out.

To sum it all up, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses in order for you to look for a suitable career for yourself. And to do that, you need to put some effort into finding the right and reliable resource before you make your ultimate decision. Joining a webinar or seminar might just be the answer for you if you’re still uncertain about possible careers other than being  a clinician. So, just take a leap of faith, and we wish you the best of luck!

This article was written by Ethan Chen Khye Shen, Isabel Sia Pei Yu and Lee Kar Yang of the International Medical University (IMU), Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur

For those doctors interested in finding the right career, MFM is organizing the Switching Careers for Doctors Workshop on Saturday, January 14, 2023, from 8 am to 6pm at Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur. Join the Workshop, find out more about yourself, and get a career that you’re passionate about. Click here to learn more:

To find out more about non-clinical jobs for doctors in Malaysia check out our job vacancy and find inspiration from medical doctors who’ve made a career change in our case studies. Check out Medic Footprints Malaysia , and follow our MF Malaysia Instagram and Facebook pages to stay updated on our events, webinars, job vacancies and more.

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