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MDs Making Changes in Mid-Career

Carol Milano

September 2007
Career Options

An orthopedic surgeon worked for 17 years before realizing he wanted another area of medicine. Another surgeon started a training business. A third started writing an advice column. Each of these physicians offers an example of how it is possible to make a mid-career change and inject more excitement into one’s career.

“In the business world, people change jobs 12 times in their work lives,” reports Robert Mestas, MD, medical director of Physicians Career Practice LLC, an assessment and counseling firm in Denver (at www.pcpllc.org). “But physicians never used to do so. They would stay in one job whether they were satisfied or not.”

Dissatisfied with his work, the orthopedic surgeon met with Mestas to discuss his options. “During counseling, we found he thought more like an internist,” Mestas explains. “He made the switch, and loves it. And he didn’t even take much of a pay cut.” Mestas had another client, a successful cardiologist earning over $1 million annually, who was unhappy after 10 years in cardiology. Instead of leaving the profession, he cut back to part-time work. “He’s removed some of the stress, and is sorting out what he might like to do,” Mestas explains.

Injecting Variety
While cutting back on work will add time for other activities, physicians also might be interested in adding an activity to stimulate one’s work and add variety. Michael S. Woods, MD, a surgeon in Santa Fe, N.M., did so by founding the Center for Physician Leadership, a training organization in Santa Fe. Or, consider writing a monthly question and answer column in a community newspaper, allowing one to relate to patients’ problems in a different manner.

Internist Lisa Sanders, MD, practices at Waterbury Hospital in Connecticut, and writes ....

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