For years, the classic career for physician-turned-executive was to run hospitals, says a healthcare recruiter who has steered numerous doctors through job transitions in a rapidly changing healthcare marketplace.
But countervailing trends are afoot, adds David Mead-Fox, a senior client partner in the Boston office of recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International.
"In the past it was all researchers, clinicians or deans," says Mead-Fox, who places doctors in positions on the Eastern seaboard. "Now you see physicians all over the place."
With each passing year, doctors gain more valuable management experience and there are more competent physician executives available. Mead-Fox can name a half-dozen categories of health-sector companies clamoring for physicians with experience in that special something: managed care, medical informatics, healthcare business service, biotech, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
George Richard, director of the Careers in Medicine program at the Association of American Medical Colleges, says he has observed increasingly varied career interests in graduating medical students.
Though most declare an intention to go into clinical practice or teaching and research, he says, the number of students who select "other" on the medical school graduation questionnaire has risen from 4.4% in 1990 to 8.4% in 2000. In that year, 4.7% of respondents said they planned to work for a state or federal agency, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, the armed forces or a public health service. Some 0.6% said they would pursue careers in medical or healthcare administration without practice, and 0.3% intended to be non-university research scientists.
Richard says he sees a large group becoming physician executives at hospitals and health insurance companies, as well as working in corporate medicine for large companies such as Federal Express and General Electric Co.
Some 4.5% of graduates in 2000 said they would pursue combined degrees, such as master's/M.D., M.D./Ph.D. or M.D./J.D., compared with 2.7% in 1990.
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