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Epic Career Moves

October 4, 2010
by Joe Bormel
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"Many a false step is made by standing still."

Epic Career Moves: " Many a false step is made by standing still. "

Today I’m presenting my follow-up reflections on the SEAK conference, which focused on physician career transition. ( My pre-conference descriptions and links to presentations are here.) A career transition process is a 5-step process, according to Michael J. McLaughlin, MD, ( www.PRNresource.com) who was one of the faculty members in the pre-conference workshop. Although the conference focused on helping physicians make a transition to non-clinical careers, the steps appear to be relatively universal:

1. Introspection – What do you want to do with your life and where are your true talents?
2. Exploration – What's out there, both career and business opportunities?
3. Preparation – How do you get moving?
4. Acquisition – What do you need to do to move forward to completing the process?
5. Transition – How do you execute the actual transition?

I suggest you review a graphic that expands on these steps, which is contained in McLaughlin’s book pictured above, “ Do You Feel Like You Wasted All That Training? Questions from Doctors Considering a Career Change. ( http://www.prnresource.com/about/)

The conference wasn't only about totally changing careers. About ten percent of the attendees I met were looking to enrich themselves professionally by adding a non-clinical component, without an interest in or need to stop practicing.

Part of the pre-conference course included a discussion based upon a self-assessment tool called the Birkman Method. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_typologies) The majority of the attendees I talked with found this personally accurate and useful. Self-awareness of one's needs during the introspection step can be an essential pre-condition for entering the exploration phase.

Sign of the Times: The number of physicians interested in career changing paints its own picture. About 300 folks attended the conference. Well over a thousand have attended in the last few years. The interest level this year, in terms of calls and emails to the conference coordinator, was twenty times the attendance level; most who did not attend said they regretted not being able to take the time to participate in person. Well, there are options, more than any blog can or should try to cover. One is the McLaughlin book. It's 200 very fast-read pages and about $20. Most of us could start and finish it in one airline flight.

(photos above from Dr McLaughlin's presentation at SEAK)

The second option is the Babitsky and Mangraviti book, also pictured above, “ Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians.” ( http://www.seak.com/displaycategories.html) Although it’s a bit longer, the intent and accomplishment produce far more complete coverage of the topic. In 12 chapters, the authors cover an exhaustive set of issues, from those outlined above, to strategies, resources and checklists, and the biggest mistakes to avoid. It is excellent, simultaneously exhaustive, yet succinct. If your learning style is to go deep, this book is unquestionably for you and well worth the price. (Before you ask, it's available for Kindle and the Kindle app.)

My Mentoring at SEAK: During the two-day conference, I served as a mentor, offering 15 minute sessions both Saturday and Sunday. The sessions filled quickly, and I met privately with 49 individual physicians. This was concurrent with over a dozen other mentors and a number of HCIT employers as well. I had 25 session slots per day, as did the conference attendees. So they could explore any number of potential career paths, or focus on introspection or acquisition issues with the mentors.

For example, on the introspection front, I discussed mid-life transition (formerly mid-life crisis) issues. Examples of acquisition mentoring including detailed, on-the-spot resume reviews with attendees who requested my input.




Doc Ben, I might have misspoke on my age range demographic. There were docs who were clearly older and some clearly younger than they looked. The conference offers support and guidance that spans well in the older age range.

Yes, follow-up is encouraged. I have stayed in touch with people I met from my time on faculty in 2009, and have exchanged emails bidirectionally with over a dozen people since this 2010 conference. I've also had several follow-up Skype video conference sessions. Lastly, everyone who was paying attention at the conference has joined the LinkedIn group for SEAK. Staying connected is highly encouraged.


Dr. Bormel,
I appears that the SEAK conference is something I'll place on my calendar for next year. Particularly in light of drawing some 300 attendees annually, and the fact that these physicians must pay for the conference themselves. After all, we're all known to be a little tight with our personal funds!

I would like to learn more in the meantime about opportunities for those of us who are older than 55. That's the group in which I hold membership, and I don't really want to embarass myself by attending an event where the consensus is I'm too old to be considering a career change.

Would you happen to have any guidance for me? Also, are the attendees encouraged to follow up with the mentors and faculty for post conference consultation?

Doc Ben