Incentives for Changing Careers Within the Medical Profession

by Ryan Winter on March 9, 2010

According to a 2008 Physicians’ Foundation survey, nearly half the 270,000 primary care physicians in the U.S. who responded said that they would seriously consider getting out of the medical business within the next three years, if they had an alternative.

This isn’t a new development either: A smaller Levin survey in 1998 revealed that 46 per cent of American clinicians surveyed often thought about leaving clinical practice.

Thinking of leaving a job in clinical work (or leaving another medical job for clinical work) is one thing; Actually leaving to make a go of something else is another.

Considering the big jump? Check out the following guides, resources, and assistance programs for changing healthcare professions, or getting into medicine from other fields:

Doctors moving from clinical to non-clinical medicine

More and more physicians are making (or contemplating) this move. Whether for a desire to escape malpractice and managed care insurance headaches or to develop talents not usually put to use in the exam room, doctors are seeking to leave – or at least take a break from – the clinical realm. Modern Medicine has the following look at how to do so:

A physician’s guide to career transition

A great guide to approaching the big jump from one career in medicine to another:

Doctors becoming administrators

“Every single job I looked at was a newly-created job for a physician executive. In one case they wanted a physician to coordinate the specialty care at a large university. In another case they wanted a physician to combine a private practice pathology group with a university group,” says Dr. Kent Bottles in a Physician’s News Digest article. Check out the full interview for more insights into this growing alternative physician career:

Golden rules of changing careers in medicine

Five must-follow rules for success, by Rob Nathan, MD, of Career Counselling Services:

Fellowships and scholarships for nurses looking to become PhDs

The American Academy of Nursing awards $100,000 over two years to successful predoctoral scholar candidates who are degree-holding registered nurses interested in an academic and research career:

The Claire M. Fagin Fellowship provides $120,000 over two years for advanced research training and mentorship to assist doctorally-prepared degree-holding nurses in the U.S. committed to pursuing faculty careers in geriatric nursing:

Other medical scholarships

National Health Service Corps runs a competitive scholarship program for those wanting to start or retrain in numerous medical careers. Applicants must be enrolled in accredited physician, family nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery, physician assistant or dental program:

The Department of Health and Human Services runs a Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program. The need-based, competitive program allows new students or non-working medical professionals to apply after being enrolled in medical, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary, or chiropractic programs, among others:


The Department of Health and Human Services also offers loans surrounding the same disciplines as its scholarships for disadvantaged students. The need-based, competitive program offers loans to those training or retraining in allopathic, osteopathic, podiatric or veterinary medicine or dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, and several other programs:

Primary Care Loans are also given out by the Department of Health and Human Services. Applicants must pursue a degree in allopathic or osteopathic medicine and apply for aid to the participating school:

Loan repayment

The National Health Service Corps has a competitive loan-repayment program for primary care physicians, primary care nurse practitioners, primary care physician assistants, certified nurse-midwives, dentists, and dental hygienists, as well as mental and behavioral health professionals:

The Faculty Loan Repayment Program is another need-based, competitive program for degree-trained health professionals from disadvantaged backgrounds serving on the faculty of an accredited health professions college or university. Such applicants can get up to $20,000 a year for loan repayment, in return for a two-year commitment:

More opportunities

Archive of articles about changing careers in medicine

General U.S. healthcare career incentives

More for doctors looking to move from clinical to non clinical medicine

Online search for nursing scholarships

More for doctors looking to change careers

List of more loan repayment programs

Assistance for disadvantaged applicants

Free continuing education (online for nurses)

Are you looking to leave your present career path in medicine? Have you already done so? Start a comment thread below and discuss the roadblocks and rewards to making the leap to another line of work…


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