Since its establishment in 1999, the Drop Out Club (DOC) has served as a forum and a support platform for professionals who have left their respective healthcare fields in hopes to pursue a different avenue. It started out, interestingly, when six former classmates from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons gathered for drinks 18 years ago. This group of friends had all left traditional medical paths to pursue a career in business. What started out as a casual meet among few friends – to exchange notes on their experience in the new career adventure – had gradually grown into a bigger group. Just a few weeks later, the group met again – this time with twice the number of participants. The subsequent gatherings had over 30 participants.

Earlier, Heather Clisby, Press Secretary for DOC, filled us in about the organisation’s origin. In this Part Two of the exclusive interview with MIMS, Heather discusses the possibilities apart from medical field available out there – should one decide to have a change of career path.

MIMS: What are some of the main reasons that cause doctors to leave the healthcare profession?

Every doctor and scientist has their own reasons for changing their career focus. Everyone has his or her own story. Not forgetting, the business of healthcare has also changed significantly over the last 10 years. In the United States – and many other countries – there is an increasing focus on value-based healthcare, and an increased need for doctors and scientists in many areas of the healthcare economy.

We find that in the United States, there are also frequently increased day-to-day bureaucratic demands on doctors and an increased burden from a complex and ever-changing insurance system. Thus, clinicians spend more time on administrative tasks and less time with patients. For many, these trends have led to increasing dissatisfaction. And, in some cases – burnout (which has been widely written about). Increasing numbers of biomedical professionals are seeking alternate avenues for career impact, while still leveraging their scientific and medical education. At the same time, the overall medical economy continues to be robust and diverse. There are many areas of need for the advanced education and unique insights those doctors and scientists bring.

Typically, the medical and scientific education as well as training systems are set up for traditional career paths (clinical and/or research) – and do not provide any effective career guidance around alternate pathways. It is sometimes even considered taboo to consider or discuss non-traditional paths. Prior to our organisation, there has not been a community for doctors and scientists to explore different career opportunities, to discuss any feelings of frustration or to exchange ideas and insights. We are pleased that DOC provides a forum to encourage this; as well as providing practical options through our numerous job postings from leading employers.

The international database of DOC is quickly expanding with a membership pool from 122 countries outside of the United States. Photo credit: DOC
The international database of DOC is quickly expanding with a membership pool from 122 countries outside of the United States. Photo credit: DOC
MIMS: What jobs are offered through your website, and which ones are the most popular among the members?

We started out with mainly finance-oriented members and opportunities, due to it being based in New-York. However, DOC has seen flourished and grown in diversity. The DOC employer base now includes strategic consulting, start-ups, healthcare IT, health plans, providers, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical communications, government and public service.

Many of these options attract strong interest and substantial numbers of applications from our members. The specific career of interest is, of course, an individual decision. Some members opt for full time careers in finance, some are looking for telemedicine options to augment on-going medical practice, and there are others who are interested in start-ups or health information technology. Our goal is to provide a full range of options to our members and a highly qualified and focused group of talented employees to employers.

MIMS: Speaking of a global presence – do you have a lot of international members and job opportunities offered on your website?

DOC currently has “Chapters” in 122 countries outside of the United States. Approximately, 10% of our membership is based outside of the US; but this number is growing rapidly. To date, the largest international DOC “Chapters” are Canada, Mexico, UK, Columbia and Brazil. We recognise that the majority of our job postings are currently in the United States. Nonetheless, as our international membership expands, employers are constantly looking for talent to follow suit.

(Those looking to acquire more information on this matter can refer to the “Chapters” section of the DOC website.)

MIMS: Would you recommend for every country to utilise a supportive channel, such as the Drop Out Club? Why so?

The “Chapters” section offered for each of the 123 countries allows our members (in various parts of the world) to rapidly find each other in order to network and exchange ideas. Although DOC was founded in the US, many of the overall trends that cause biomedical professionals to consider alternative career paths are global. This led to the organic growth of our membership to include most areas of the world.

DOC can provide a community and a forum for all biomedical professionals to have a career impact in their own way and their own areas of healthcare. We don't necessarily see a need for another separate channel, as DOC can be useful and relevant in every country. MIMS

Read more:
“Drop Out Club”: Explore the alternatives – Part One
Why are healthcare professionals leaving traditional job roles?
Part-time doctoring as a means to cope with burnout