ThePhysicianCareerNetwork |ARTICLE
Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians.

Step One: A Simple "Brain Dump," by William S. Frank

Ben Miller, a Harvard-trained surgeon hired me to help him navigate his transition out of clinical medicine into the commercial world. When we began, he presented me with this “brain dump,” a collection of his thoughts and ideas, and I found it extremely useful in understanding his situation. You can re-create this chart yourself, and it will be a good beginning point:

  1. Principle
    I have a great wife and 2 kids (2 and 5) whom I enjoy very much. The stress/dread of current job is beginning to make me (and thus my family) unhappy—and we like being happy.

  2. GOOD aspects of current job as private practice Internist
    • Work with good people whom I respect.
    • Get to perform fun procedures.
    • Earn $250K-$500K/year.
    • Get to take +/- 4-6 weeks off a year (at my choosing).
    • Prestige.
    • Can live in a smaller town with amazing house and no commute.

  3. BAD aspects of current job as private practice Internist
    • Pace is punishing and unpredictable.
    • Always fearing I am overlooking something.
    • No end to call nights.
    • Unrealistic patient expectations.
    • Constant fear of being sued.
    • Little time to interact (chit-chat) with co-workers.
    • Not vetting new ideas or meeting interesting new people.
    • Little changes.
    • Extremely high (e.g. difficult to meet) paperwork and other performance standards.
    • Feels like I’m swimming upstream.

  4. Current Goals
    • Find job that I look forward to on Sunday afternoon.
    • Minimize move distance: stay in Seattle > Portland > Vancouver BC > San Francisco > San Diego (I expect that we will move).
    • Make over 130K/year and have somewhat flexible shedule.
    • Have less constant stress.
    • Have my wife work part time and have me work less to have better balance.

  5. Elements that I have/or think I might like in a job
    • Work with a small group of people I like.
    • Work hard in spurts and conversely be able to take time off if work light.
    • Working with people from diverse backgrounds, but share intelligence and sense of humor.
    • Reasonable salary and/or possibility of very large payout down the road.
    • Developing novel devices.
    • Doing medical (or animal lab) procedures/flying?.
    • Somewhat casual (but no sloppy) work environment.
    • Meeting with bright individuals with novel ideas.
    • Searching for and learning about new ideas/devices.
    • Compatible with a family.
    • I enjoy being there.

  6. My strengths
    • Not brilliant but very clever—can quickly grasp and contribute to new ideas.
    • Can read people very well and network.
    • Can work very hard—in spurts.
    • Am loyal to friends.
    • Willing to take calculated risks.

  7. My Weaknesses
    • It’s challenging to hide feelings if I dislike someone.
    • Can lose interest if something drags on. (But do not lose interest in individuals.)
    • Bristle at criticism—a subtle hint from someone I respect is all I need—otherwise I get defensive.
    • Can be distracted by thinking of new options.

  8. Fear
    • Passing up big money doctor job and dragging my family along on a Quixotic search for my dream job and subsequently not finding it.

  9. Approach
    • Relax. Realize that my current job is not sustainable and look for something else.
    • Carefully weigh my options.

  10. Practical Considerations
    • I have to tell my practice I’m leaving by May—it’s getting difficult not to tell them now.
    • Would rather not move, but it’s possible to do so.
    • Willing to take salary cut for better fitting job, but still need to make some $.
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"No wind favors s/he who has no destined port." —Montaigne

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