Sick of working in health care? 12 jobs you could do instead
You have more transferable skills than you think.
Working in health care can be hugely rewarding—you’re helping people recover from diseases or live fuller lives, even if you’re not involved in direct care. But the stress can be overwhelming, and burnout is common.
In 2015, the turnover rate for hospitals was 17.2%, which is up from 13.5% in 2011, according to a report by NSI Nursing Solutions. And while a 2013 Deloitte study finds that seven out of 10 physicians say they are satisfied, six in 10 say that it’s likely many of their peers will retire earlier than planned.
Heather Fork is an authority on physician burnout. Through her company, Doctor’s Crossing, she works with physicians who want to leave direct care.
Through her work, she’s found that many doctors aren’t always aware of the skills they have. “They will remark disparagingly, ‘I'm just a clinician,’ I don't know what else I could do,” Fork says. “I don't have any other skills.”
But once she gets physicians to open up a little, she sees them realize find that they have plenty of transferable skills. For example, physicians are often good communicators, they exhibit strong attention to detail, they’re reliable, they know how to listen and they usually make great managers.
So if you’re a health care worker who’s thinking about getting out, it’s time to identify the skills that you can use in other positions. Below is a list of health care jobs with corresponding skills—skills you didn’t even know you had—that could lead to greener pastures. (Unless otherwise noted, salaries listed are median pay as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
If you’re currently a doctor…
Transferable Skill: Diagnosing and treating ailments and illnesses
New opportunity: Health insurance claims specialist
New salary: $62,300
Why it transfers: In this setting, former care providers are using their clinical skills but not directly doing patient care, Fork says. “As they're interacting with other team members, interpersonal skills are important. The ability to be diplomatic and handle conflict well can come in handy if they're speaking to another physician and potentially denying studies or treatments.”
If you’re currently a nurse…
Transferable skill: Effective listening
New opportunity: Customer service representative
New salary: $31,200
Why it transfers: Customer service or sales work is in the DNA of anyone who deals with patients regularly. Listening, empathizing and ultimately, convincing people to listen to you are great skill sets coveted by hiring managers in these fields.
Transferable skill: Documentation
New opportunity: Human resources manager
New salary: $102,780
Why it transfers: Nurses understand the importance of following procedures and documenting processes. These skills are vital in human resources management, as managers ensure companies stay compliant with various employment regulations.
Transferable skill: Clinical health knowledge, documentation
New opportunity: Safety director
New salary: $69,210
Why it transfers: Michael Rivas started out as a licensed practical nurse and occupational therapist, but he left occupational therapy in 2004 to get into the insurance industry. Skills used in occupational therapy—such as carefully monitoring and assessing environments and behavior—have come in handy as he serves as safety director at Assurance, an insurance company in the Chicago area. He now conducts loss and behavior analyses to help clients mitigate their exposure to claims.
Transferable skill: Multitasking
New opportunity: Teacher
New salary: Kindergarten and elementary, $53,760; high school, $56,310
Why it transfers: Teachers need to able to multitask and prioritize in the classroom. After years of working with sick and hurting people anxious families and urgent situations in a high-pressure work environment, nurses’ ability to multitask and address different needs simultaneously would serve them well in the classroom.
If you’re currently a doctor or nurse…
Transferable skill: Solving problems
New opportunity: Analyst
New salary: $80,800
Why it transfers: Working as a consultant part time or for one of the big consulting firms such as McKenzie can be a good fit for some physicians, says Fork, who is based in the Austin, Texas area. “Good analytical and problem-solving skills as well as being able to think outside of the box are often requirements for this kind of work,” she says. In addition, these positions often require the ability to meet frequent goals and deadlines and work under pressure.
Transferable skill: Managing electronic medical records
New opportunity: Health informatics
New Salary: $80,280
Why it transfers: “Physicians going into this area tend to have naturally good computer skills and enjoy troubleshooting,” Fork says. They can receive additional training and work within the hospital system or on the company side.
If you’re currently a physical therapist…
Transferable skill: Communication
New opportunity: Training and development manager
New salary: $101,930
Why it transfers: Physical therapists can become excellent staff trainers, says Nicki Morris, president of Toronto, Ontario-based The Neoteric Group, which provides coaching and consulting services to health businesses and professionals. They’ve developed strong communication and teaching skills throughout their careers that make them effective trainers or teachers.
If you’re currently a surgeon…
Transferable skill: Precision
New opportunity: Machinist
New salary: $41,510
Why it transfers: Millwrights work on highly precise instruments and machines that require attention to detail and a steady hand. Some machines may be computer controlled. These machines produce precision parts and tools for use in other applications.
If you’re currently a lab technician…
Transferable skill: Laboratory skills
New opportunity: Quality control inspector
New salary: $35,330
Why it works: Many products go through a long testing process to ensure they’re ready for the market. Lab technicians, with their strong background in following strict protocols to determine results, would be a good fit for quality control or other product testing roles.
If you’re currently a cancer research scientist…
Transferable skill: Degree in molecular biology
New opportunity: Patent lawyer
New salary: $131,744 (according to Payscale)
Why it transfers: A degree in molecular biology is one of the degrees that qualifies a person to sit for the patent bar exam, says Lisa Parmley of Denver, Colorado-based Patent Education Series, which provides information about passing the exam. She started out as a cancer research scientist before looking for new options. “Once I passed that exam, I was able to become a registered patent agent. This career designation allows me to help inventors write and prosecute patent applications.”
If you’re currently a social worker…
Transferable skill: Communication skills
New opportunity: PR account executive
New salary: $55,680
Why it works: Kathleen Osborne left her job as a licensed social worker at a long-term managed health care company to try something new. Her communications skills and ability to prioritize serve her well in her role as senior account executive for King+Company Public Relations in New York City, she says. “I worked with a patient’s medical team in the nursing home to transition them into the community and needed to make sure that all of the discharge plans were communicated effectively to coordinate a safe discharge,” she says. In public relations, those same communication skills are key for training clients on how to work with the media, she says.
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