Top 10 tips on the science and art of non-clinical medicine

I’m often asked my advice about non-clinical careers – so thought I’d share my top 10 tips about what I see as the science, art and reality of non-clinical medicine based on my 17 years personal experience as well as my experience as a coach:

1. There is no need to feel alone (or a failure) if you can’t find your way in a traditional career pathway – it doesn’t suit everybody

2. There are many ways to be a doctor – one on one clinical care is just one of those way – but the medical profession needs many people in all sorts of different roles in the back end.

3. As the world evolves and clinical practice changes the sorts of opportunities in non-clinical medicine are growing – but they may not always be obvious. Today’s innovative non clinical role may be the seed of tomorrow’s college. For example – one day I’d love to see a ‘college’ of coaching medicine (or somesuch thing)

4. Non-clinical medicine is an active choice – it should not be something you escape to in an effort to run away from clinical practice. Running away is not a great psychological space to be in. Far more constructive is to figure out what you want to do, what have you got to give to the world, and then figure out a pathway there

5. leaving clinical medicine is not a decision to be made in haste. I have had a number of clients wanting to leave clinical work, or leave their specialty etc – and often enough after talking things through there’s a specific issue such as confidence, or feeling disempowered or burnt out in some way that’s at the root of it. these issues need to be sorted out first – and then the decision made to leave or you’ll spend forever after looking over your shoulder. In this way I’ve had quite a few people finding themselves reinvigorated and looking at clinical medicine in a different way – and making a positive and proactive choice to stay (with or without some modifications)

6. Non-clinical medicine can be fun and adventurous – but it can also be scary, risky and uncertain. There are no real rules beyond those you make up yourself. No specific qualifications. No College to tell you what to do or how to do it. And because non-clinical careers are idiosyncratic – every journey and story is different.

7. As well an appetite for uncertainty, you need to be able to tolerate an almost inevitable pay cut. I’m sure some tech startups earn a fortune (theoretically) – but most non-clinical roles will not bring home what a clinician does. Fact of life.

8. Moving into the non-clinical world requires a mindset shift and an attitude change – it is a different way of being in the world – and will almost certainly require rewriting your identity as a doctor. This is a process and a journey that can be quite challenging – but ultimately rewarding. In a paradoxical way – this type of growth makes you a better doctor (however you choose to define it)

9. There is rarely a linear pathway – things will evolve and shift – you need to be open to opportunity and change – and you end up becoming a master of flexibility.

10. Just as clinical medicine is not for everybody – non clinical medicine is not for everybody. But if you are up for challenge, adventure and the glamour of flying budget airlines – then there are multiple rewarding and wonderful ways to bring life and health to the world. It’s up to you to make it happen.

I hope you find this helpful

Happy for questions..

One thought on “Top 10 tips on the science and art of non-clinical medicine

  1. Nice piece Jocelyn, I like it, maybe adaptation and flexibility should be taught. Tolerance of ambiguity as well.
    As a Dentist transitioning to retirement, I feel in unchartered waters, but I think the R word is becoming a thing of the past, unless through disability or illness and then it becomes a matter of necessity.
    For the time being in my case, I still am trying to keep that work life balance, which I agree with you is definitely “ not linear”.
    Kind personal regards,,
    Oli C

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