Transferable skills: From the Clinical to the Creative

Blog by Dr. Patrice Baptiste

During the foundation programme I decided that a gap year was the next step for me; I wanted to take some time out to decide if I still wanted to work as a doctor and if so how I could further my career. I’d always wanted to be a doctor but never really knew what type of doctor I wanted to be. After working for about a year and a half I still had no idea about a suitable career path. I was always concerned with how medicine seemed to overtake my life and how I had to work exceptionally hard to maintain the few interests I had. This prompted me to look at a number of other careers to see if there would be something I could do instead of medicine or in conjunction with it.

I started writing articles throughout my second year because I always enjoyed writing, especially creatively. From a young age, writing was an outlet for me and I would write for hours, writing wherever and whatever came to my mind. Although my articles were not ‘special’ in any way they gave me the confidence to continue to write and I saw writing as a potential career. I currently work as a freelance medical writer and I have now written for some of the major medical organisations such as the British Medical Association (BMA), the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the Medical Protection Society (MPS) and the Support for Doctors Network. I also contribute to an online news website and to the medic footprints website. I now publish content on my own blog and I am due to publish a collection of poems this spring/summer. I have realised that there are many opportunities out there for me and for other doctors who are unsure about their career choices. I could easily pursue writing alongside or instead of medicine if I chose to; the possibilities are there.

I realised that I have a number of transferrable skills that I learnt and developed throughout my medical career which I can easily apply to a more creative, non clinical career. Whether my articles are medically related or not, I need to use all those research skills I acquired throughout my training in order to produce accurate and well written content. Working for an online news website means that I have to perform under pressure, producing high quality articles in a short time. I have to work with an editor along with other writers- so I also work as part of a team.

I think it is fair to say that medicine can make you feel that it would be near impossible to change careers and embark on non-medical or even ‘diversified’ medical career paths. You can become institutionalised in a system you have spent years training in.
Instead of re-evaluating our choices and trying to make changes many of us continue to trudge on, dreading Monday mornings. It can be so easy to place everyone else first all the time and therefore end up neglecting our own mental and physical health, sometimes resulting in ‘burn out’.

As highly skilled professionals it is crucial for us to realise that we have a multitude of transferable skills which will enable us to succeed in a number of areas outside (and even alongside) medicine.

1. Being able to work and perform under pressure:

Working in a busy, ever changing hospital environment with numerous assessments and exams (since medical school and before) means that we have developed the essential skills to not only work in these conditions but to also thrive and produce excellent results. These skills can easily be applied to any career where you need to act quickly and produce high quality results.

2. The ability to work as part of a team:

Working with various healthcare professionals means that we have developed the necessary skills to work with people across many specialist fields in order to provide the very best care for our patients. Being able to work with others is essential in any career you pursue.

3. Leadership skills:

Being able to lead teams and make important decisions daily allows you to step into a wide variety of roles where you need to be able to manage people- from large to small organisations.

4. Time management and prioritisation:

Deciding who to review first on a busy medical on call demonstrates the ability to manage your time and prioritize effectively.

This is just a small fraction of the skills we possess. With the highly demanding nature of our job we are able to transition quite easily into a wide variety of different roles. Research is crucial- you need to know what is out there and what will suit you!

There are so many areas we can transition into and we should not be afraid to change our situation, especially if our current career is not making us completely happy!

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