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Why Your Company Needs a Doctor

The value of a clinician in a creative space.

The stereotype of the physician as a concrete, ego-driven scientist couldn't be further from the truth. Medicine is truly a service industry and doctors bring a concrete skill set that translates well to nonclinical careers. The profession selects for certain traits and cultivates others but, after years in practice, doctors can feel the need to flex different muscles outside of clinical practice.

In the business world, the concept of a "lifer" is long gone. It's rare that a person works for the same company for their entire career. Even within a company, there is growth and movement from job to job. But for doctors, it's easier to get stuck. If a practice is comfortable, there seems little reason to move especially in a fickle economy where healthcare holds more promise of financial stability. In highly technical areas of medicine, stepping away for too long can make a return difficult or impossible without training and re-credentialling. Doctors that leave the fold typically spend a lot of time considering their departure from patient care before the actual transition.

So why should you hire a doctor?

1. Lifelong Learners- American medical education is a lengthy process with classroom, lab, and residency training lasting anywhere from 11-15 years. For those with a PhD or fellowship, add another 2-5 years. Once in practice, there is board certification and continuing education to maintain that certificate. What this means is that doctors tend to thrive in roles that demand frequent acquisition of knowledge. Even if they don't show a specific job title on their resumé, they may still be a quick study in a new role.

2. Creative Mindset- "Patient-centered care" is a common term applied to medical systems. In order to succeed as a physician, there is a very familiar cycle of identifying stakeholders, asking questions, listening to stories, studying evidence, proposing solutions, and evaluating outcomes. Each of these steps is tailored to the patient or client, taking their individual starting point into account. What can they afford? What can be scaled and sustained? What side effects are anticipated and how can those be addressed? What will follow up look like? This skill set is one that is easily transferable and certainly beneficial to any position in a health-related industry.

3. Simplifying the Complex- When explaining a disease or treatment to a patient, there is the art of making the complex understandable, simplifying steps, identifying clear goals and defining success. In the business sector, this can translate into communication of scientific or technical ideas to a team or client, writing copy for general audiences, or creating educational programs.

4. Collaborative Practice- Physicians are comfortable functioning in collaborative spaces. Work for physicians extends outside of the exam room into many other venues. In a single day, a doctor may move from the office, to the operating room, hospital floor, or board room. Each arena has a unique culture and etiquette. Understanding how to interface with different organizational structures is a necessary skill that often goes unnoticed but it's as critical to healthcare delivery as it is in the larger business world.

5. Problem Solving- To make all the pieces fit, doctors are quick to identify pinch points and refine processes. They learn to minimize error and maximize outcomes all with an eye towards efficiency and cost containment. In clinical arenas, scrutiny and oversight is part of the landscape. Solutions wouldn't work without the approval of internal and external review boards. What this means for doctors in industry is that they understand the need to support their ideas with evidence of efficacy and safety.

When presenting themselves to potential employers, doctors tend to highlight what they have done rather than how they did it. On their CVs or resumés, they list research projects, publications, presentations and awards. Perhaps what doctors fail to see themselves, are the skills that led to those successes. In an interview, rather than asking a doctor what she has done, ask her how she would do something. You may be pleasantly surprised at her answer and welcoming her into your team may be just what the doctor ordered.


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