Career Change–Have Courage!

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    I’m an American, board-certified Internist who has left clinical medicine behind and would love to hear from others who have made career changes.

    I had wanted to become a physician since elementary school, but from medical school on, I kept wondering when I was going to fall in love with my work. I searched and searched for that one specialty (both within and beyond Internal Medicine), practice setting (office practice, hospitalist, alternative medicine, third world medicine), and anything else with which I might feel a connection. After “settling” on an Internal Medicine residency, I used my elective rotation slots to explore every subspecialty possible, searching for that one great career fit. Nothing felt right.

    After my Chief Residency year, I finally acknowledged and accepted how unhappy I was. The fact that I’d throw away all my medical journals immediately upon receiving them in the post was probably a good sign. It was extremely difficult going to work every day and being surrounded by so many phsycians who adore what they do. I felt like a misfit and that I was trying desperately to force a square into a round peg. I was being incredibly untrue to myself, putting on the facade that I enjoyed clinical medicine.

    So, after some executive coaching, lots of reading and completing of career change exercises, I’ve made the plunge. I’m currently working as a big-gift fundraiser for a new breast cancer centre wing at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London (my husband was transferred to London last year and I used this as a great opportunity to initiate my career change). I can’t express enough what a pleasure it is to wake up every morning and look forward to going to work.

    The change wasn’t easy. I face a weekly, sometimes daily, questioning of why I’ve made a change. Everyone is quick to offer their opinion that I’m wasting my talents and skills by leaving clinical medicine. I can honestly say that I felt my talents and skills were being wasted in clinical medicine. What I’ve learned most of all is that just because I’m good at something (and I am great at clinical medicine, at the risk of sounding immodest) doesn’t mean I should be doing it, especially since it was making me miserable.

    So, if there’s anyone out there who has a similar story or is thinking about a career change, I’d love to hear about it!



    I just wanted to say “good for you”. You will probably receive responses from others who don’t want to “hear” that medicine made you miserable, and many of us will probably not be swayed by your experiences, we each have to discover for ourselves whether medicine is truly right or wrong for us.

    However, my philosophy has always been that life is short, and you only get one shot at it…I don’t believe in being miserable, whether it’s a marriage or a career, if it really is the wrong fit you have to admit it to yourself and do something to change it. It sounds like that is exactly what you have done, so kudos to you. I am glad to hear you’re happier.

    Good luck in your new career!



    I would just like to tell you congrats! I think that you are very brave to make such a decision. The most important thing in any career is a passion. There are too many people out there who wind up making themselves ( and others around them) miserable because they do not have the courage to change their situation. I just wanted to say KUDOS.

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