Doctors "Seaking" New Jobs Attend Conference on Non-Clinical Careers


Tray Dunaway

Recently I attended SEAK’s Non-Clinical Careers Conference for physicians. I wanted to do some reconnaissance for clients and get a firsthand impression of the value of this program.

I’m sitting with over 200 physicians, enjoying the continental breakfast and waiting for the conference to begin. I can’t help but overhear two doctors sitting behind me:

“So what specialty are you in?”

“Radiology! What’s the matter with you? What are you doing here? You guys have it good.”

I never heard his reply, but apparently the radiologist had his reasons and was in good company. Later, I ran into a whole group of radiologists who were bonding together during a break. As I know from my own experience, having what is considered a “cush” lifestyle and a good income is not all there is to being satisfied in one’s career.

I met doctors from a wide range of specialties. Some had tried different things to find a happier fit in medicine: doing a fellowship or a even a second residency, giving up OB due to high malpractice, or taking time off to consider options.

Some attendees were medical students, others were in the middle of internship or residency. And a few looked like retirement could be a option, but there still was a desire to work and try something new.

Over the two-day conference, there were excellent presentations from physicians employed in a variety of non-clinical sectors:

• Pharma
• Marketing and Communications
• Media and Medical Writing
• Consulting
• Finance
• Health Care Administration
• Government
• Life Insurance
• Medical Devices

One of the more popular features of the conference was the chance, if you were quick enough, to sign up for 15 minute private sessions with employers and mentors. Some recruiters were actually conducting mini-interviews.

Highpoints of this conference:

The overall high quality of the speakers. Serious subject matter, but lots of great humor. The keynote speaker, Dr. Tray Dunaway (photo), surprised us all by breaking into song and doing an amazing split second transition from suit to scrubs, and that was just the beginning.

Detailed coverage of different job possibilities, from who would be a good candidate, to salary, lifestyle and opportunities for advancement.

The chance to meet with other physicians and hear their stories.

The opportunity to speak with employers and mentors.

What could make it even better:
A 2 ½ or 3 day conference.

An option for attending more of the presentations. Because the 18 breakout sessions were conducted 2 at a time, attendees missed half of these offerings.

More slots to speak with employers to meet the demand (Plans are in the works by SEAK to have more employers next year).

More time for networking with colleagues, mentors and recruiters.

Who should attend?

I recommend the SEAK Non-Clinical Careers Seminar for physicians who are wanting more information on a part or full time career outside of clinical medicine.

At $1,295 for 2 days, the cost is substantial. However, the physicians I spoke with seemed to feel
the conference was worth the investment of time and money.

Next year’s conference will be in the Fall of 2011. Check SEAK’s website in approximately one month for date and location, as well as other courses offered for physicians.

Disclosure. I have no personal or financial affiliations with SEAK.

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  1. Abba Camp on July 11, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Most non-radiologists have a misinformed concept that radiology as practiced in the 1970s still holds true today. For most of us in radiology it can hardly be considered a ‘cush’ lifestyle. Between demands on increased output, a shift to 24/7 hospital coverage and declining salaries, coupled with the ever looming risk of lawsuits (anything missed on a radiology image is fair game, especially with the benefit of hindsight and the ability to zoom in on a missed finding for the jurors to see). It is no surprise to me at all that radiologists are well represented at a confrence for those seeking alternative careers. I only wonder whether in the current market there are alternatives out there.

    • Heather Fork on July 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Thank you for sharing your perspective as a practicing radiologist. It is true, we rarely know the truth about someone else’s situation unless we are privy to the reality. Available alternatives vary depending on what direction a physician is interested in pursing and how motivated he or she is in making changes. Some doctors want to continue doing clinical work in some capacity, while others desire more of a change, even going outside of healthcare. Good luck to you!

  2. Dr. Chen on September 21, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Radiology used to be a ‘cush’ job, but it has turned into a slavery nightmare. Imagine having to work at top speed for 9 hours straight, having to read CT scans in less than 45 seconds, just to keep up with the over utilization that is occurring everywhere. Never a break. Hands numb at the end of your shift from using the mouse constantly. Never getting to interact with others as you sit in a dark room of hell. And due to drops in reimbursement, making only about $80 per hour, which is less than a plumber. If you like to be abuse and crapped on constantly, this is the job for you. Enjoy!

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“I was at a crossroads in my medical career. I asked myself, "Do I stay or do I go?" 

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“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

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What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth... wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

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She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

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Orthopedic Surgeon
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After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

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Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

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Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

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Emergency Medicine Physician

The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

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"Heather was my source of hope during a time when I felt stuck and confused. She gave me the permission and confidence to reach higher than I believed I could."

After graduating from residency and starting a family, I lost sight of why I became a physician. I struggled to convince myself to stay in a career that was clearly the wrong fit for me and my family. My anxiety about work was at an all-time high when I reached out to Heather. She provided something that my mentors, friends, and family could not – rather than just offering career advice, she changed the way I think about my life so that I could understand how my career would fit into it. I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on medicine and eventually found a job in academic medicine. I finally feel that excitement for medicine that I used to feel when I was in training. More importantly, I feel like I can be the role model to my young daughter who may one day also face similar challenges between career and family. Thank you, Heather, for all your kindness, support, and skillful coaching! The experience was life-changing!

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Internal Medicine Physician
Camille Gardner-Beasley

"As a Physician, your personal and even professional needs are often overlooked. I learned how to prioritize my career goals by working with Dr. Heather Fork."

She taught me how to put into practice what I knew in theory, that taking care of myself was a priority. I learned to give myself permission to make the career choices that would give me the work-life balance I desperately craved and needed. The process of confronting fears and insecurities was a bit scary, but well worth it in the end. I am now a happier version of myself with a non-clinical job that I truly enjoy!

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Anna testimonial

"After 10 years in outpatient family medicine I felt stuck and knew I needed a change but I didn’t know where to begin. Thankfully I found Heather and she guided me every step of the way."

She helped me carefully assess my interests, strengths and passions while also providing me with constructive changes to implement in my job search and resume. With Heather’s help, I just landed a fully remote UM position and I am also exploring coaching as well. Now I feel like the possibilities are endless and I’m excited for this next chapter in the nonclinical world! Thank you Heather for changing my life for the better.

- Ana Jacobellis, DO


"I'm truly thankful to have had the opportunity to be coached by Heather, she is not only a resourceful mentor but a wise and supportive friend. I'm honored to recommend Heather to all my friends and colleagues."

I had been a practicing Internist for 20 years when I reached a point when I needed to make a serious change in my career path. While I enjoyed seeing patients, I was not satisfied with my life-work balance. My job was taking me away from my family and left me little time and energy to do other things that are important and meaningful to me. I came across Dr. Fork's podcast; The Doctor's Crossing Carpe Diem Podcast, it is such an informative and enjoyable podcast for any physician who wants to do more with their career and life in general. Then I had the pleasure to get career coaching from Heather, it was truly an amazing experience. Heather has broad knowledge of all the different career paths that are available for physicians, she is so insightful and very easy to talk to. She helped me clarify my goals, examine my own mindset and definition of success. Together we developed a clear plan and actionable steps to reach these goals. I eventually made a career transition to a remote non-clinical position that allows me to do meaningful work which aligns with my personal and professional goals and priorities.

- Abbey Awad, MD

Internal Medicine