Even assuming a careful selection process and good to excellent core compatibility, a period of adjustment is inevitable for a physician who has moved from the clinical world to industry. The best-intentioned of us make errors during this phase.
Major traps in moving from the clinical arena to industry
Unfortunately, sometimes these errors are assigned a valence well above what they deserve by existing staff members whose antennae are vibrating ceaselessly to see if the new recruit is “going to fit in”. The more you can avoid these traps, the smoother your long-term sailing will be. Take a free career quiz to discover your best professional track
The physicians I know who have been successful in the pharmaceutical or medical device industries possess excellent people skills, above average levels of flexibility, enjoy new challenges, and have low ego quotients. These qualities allowed them to recognize that they would have to be willing to take a step back first before moving forward.
Items to consider
Listed below are a series of items for you to consider.
1. Believe in yourself. First, that you can adapt; second, that you can add value once settled into your new role.
2. Practice humility. You may have been Mr. Big at St. Elsewhere’s but there is much to learn. Park your ego outside with your car each morning, ask questions and look for advice. Your co-workers will know well of your niche expertise but be eager to see if you can envision the bigger picture.
3. Avoid looking over your shoulder. You made the big break, now have the courage of your convictions and stay the course.
4. Be willing to take a step backward. Consider your first year like a fellowship learning some new skill. Focus on the end result; be patient and receptive to new ideas and angles of view.
5. Learn to work well in teams. Teamwork crucial to business success is predicated on the fact that everyone around the table is essentially an equal contributor to ideas and workflow. Here equal means “being a physician is no big deal” equal.
6. Make no rush to judgment, for either the good or the bad. Try to see differences between clinical practice and industry as just that, different.
7. Be as flexible and adaptable as possible.
8. View the adjustment you are making as an enjoyable challenge. Consider what you’ll learn about yourself, and the world at large.
9. Recognize that the larger the organization, the less likely you are to effect change, and the longer it will take.
Do the opinions of a non-practicing physician have merit?
Given the competitive streak that’s deep in the bone of every physician, it is inevitable that many doctors on the verge of moving away from the clinical arena wonder if they’ll have an audience anymore. We’re more concerned about the reactions of other physicians than patients or family. If we’ve spent 20, 30 or 40 years with people eager to hear your point of view, it would take a Zen master ego to calmly walk away, unfettered by thoughts that you might be viewed as over the hill, out of touch or redundant by your peers.
Your concerns about the possible reaction of colleagues might include:
1. Not practicing and out of touch.
2. Not practicing and with a chip on his shoulder.
3. Not practicing, thus able to mount some moral high ground and pontificate because he no longer has to deal with the nitty-gritty of daily work in the clinic.
4. No longer a member of the team; don’t care what he thinks.
5. He sold his soul to industry for a mess of pottage; don’t care what he thinks.
Physicians are good at finding an ‘out’ when we may want to ignore or downplay an opinion that is displeasing to us. “He doesn’t see patients” or “he’s not practicing enough”, or “well, you wouldn’t get it because you’re not a surgeon’.
In the end, the worth of an opinion is the worth of the man or woman delivering it.
Are they experienced and thoughtful?
Are they honest about their background and potential biases?
Are they conscientious and consistent?
Are they truthful rather than being ‘political’, or the representative of some institution organization which may inhibit their speaking freely?