All Articles

Paving The Path To Your Alternate Career

How A Doctor Can Change Careers


Once again, I have to start by giving kudos to urgent care as a career… the hours are perfect for starting your transformation into another career. I spent several years from 8a-12p basically shadowing a great mechanic in his shop until I learned enough to open my own shop. Sure, the days were long but I never felt so alive. I would start my day working on 300-1,000 horsepower cars and then I would go in and heal the sick (or at least prescribe a cough medication or two).


Your Doctor Degree Is Your Key To Many Doors

I now have a 7/7 schedule, working 7 days on starting at noon and ending at 10-11p followed by a full 7 days off. The possibilities are endless. One of my colleagues has rental homes in another state. He has the same schedule as myself and flies in from Arizona on a Monday and leaves on Sunday. The other 7 days he spends time with his girlfriend in Arizona and tends to his properties.

As docs we are blessed because for the most part we are respected in the community and are considered good people (well, except this guy). This is invaluable, imagine how many doors are already opened for you because you are an MD, DO or NP/PA. The industry leader that you are interested in learning from will already assume that you have a good work ethic, that you are a trustworthy person, that you are someone worth being around and that one day perhaps if they need something from you they can depend on you.


Dr. Photographer-To-Be

Let’s work with an example, they are so much more fun than me rambling. You are interested in taking your photography to the next level and you want to one day be able to profit from your hobby. You undoubtedly already know photographers in your area that you admire (if you don’t then that’s your first task). You find their contact information and you introduce yourself over email:

Hello Ms. Silva Halide,

My name is Egor Rattale and I am a local physician who admires your work and I also have a passion for photography. I work as a radiologist and spend the majority of my time in a dark room looking at a digital screen. My interest is photographing scoliotic spines. I live in the Longmont area as well (insert something else that you two have in common from what you have learned about them) and wanted to invite you out to lunch to a special place I know. I understand how busy you are but hope you will take me up on this. It would be delightful to make your acquaintance in person. My treat, of course.

It’s hard for someone to say no to such an email. Of course, don’t give up just because the first person says no. But don’t assume they don’t want to meet you either. Perhaps they didn’t get the email, perhaps it got lost in their inbox or just like the rest of us they may have a million things going on. It’s okay to email a few people.


Put Their Mind At Ease – It’s Not Their Hobby, It’s Their Livelihood

So, you send your email out, or perhaps you call on the phone. You get to sit face-to-face with the person you would love to learn from and now you want to shadow them. Put yourself in their shoes and come up with the top 3 barriers that would prevent them from saying yes:

  1. This person might steal my ideas and end up costing me money
  2. They might be a huge drain on my time and want to ask me a thousand questions
  3. Once I have them shadow me how do I get rid of them.

Now that you know what this person is reasonably worried about it’s a good idea to thoughtfully bring each of these points up and appease them.

I respect the work you do and I understand this is not a hobby for you but a profession so I want you to know that in no way would I ever encroach on your business or profession.

During my training to become a doctor I’ve learned when to be silent and when to speak. I am not the sort to barrage you with questions and don’t need any hand-holding. I wouldn’t want you to feel burdened by my presence.

When the time is right for you I am hoping to spend 4-6 weeks with you when you are doing your work. After that I will go my own way but maybe we’ll build a friendship. If one day I can return a favor in some way I would be honored to.


Practice Marketing Yourself, Update That Resume

You may just have landed an unpaid internship with someone who can teach you a lot. Even if you don’t learn from that person you will have developed the skill again to go after something you want. No matter how competent we are as physicians, we really haven’t had to fight for anything in a long time (outbidding another ebay-er doesn’t count). We haven’t had to sell ourselves to someone else in decades. Remember when you were 16…18 and trying to get your first job? I do. I applied at Petco in Rancho Palos Verdes and got denied. I applied to Blockbuster video and got denied. My sister applied to No Fear clothing company and right away got a job, argh! So I applied to the local Arco gas station as a cashier and landed the job… finally.


In Summary 

If you have any interest whatsoever to delve into another field make use of your free time as an urgent care doc. Shadow someone in their business and if you are even halfway personable they will love to invite you back. Show up at their studio, shop, etc and bring lunch. I have fed a lot of mechanics on my dime and it has been some of the best lunches I’ve enjoyed. Learn the insider secrets, find that mentor and slowly build your new career path.


What’s another career you’ve always imagined yourself in?

Does your work schedule allow you enough time away to learn another trade? 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.