Imagine this: You’re 68 years old. You’re looking back at your life and career. What do you see?

If you’re reading this article right now, there’s a good chance you are listening to a “career hunch” and exploring a non-clinical career.  You’re interested in optimizing your skills and passions within your career and rediscovering meaning and purpose in your work.

Harvard Business Review recently published an article describing diverse, well-accomplished individuals who lamented over career regrets. One of the most interesting revelations was that many wished they had acted on their “career hunches,” or windows of opportunity to do something innovative and different.

You may be considering hiring a career coach to help you follow your own “career hunch” and take action on finding and getting into a non-clinical career.

So what’s the best way to find and choose a good career coach?

Here are some things to consider:

Understand what “success rate” means:  A coach should be guiding and leading you towards the right job and situation and connecting you with people who may further help you in your goals.  Talk to the prospective coach about his or her past experiences with others.  Although you are ultimately responsible for your success, it’s been my experience that 80-90% of people who work with a coach and understand the process are the ones who do find and get into a non-clinical job (or create one!).

Choosing a physician versus a non-physician coach: A coach with a physician background who has already successfully transitioned to a non-clinical career has the unique perspective of what works for other physicians and usually understands the challenges unique to a non-clinical transition.  If the prospective coach is not a doctor, make sure he or she has worked with doctors before and has successfully helped them find the particular jobs and companies that work well for doctors.

Make sure this person really understands you: Explain your career issues, past work, individual work/life balance needs and geographic restrictions during an initial call. Ask questions of your prospective coach to understand how he or she will help you overcome your specific barriers and work within your situation to fulfill your needs.

Remember that cheap isn’t always quality: Quality coaches charge more.  Coaching is a personal service and you get what you pay for here.   Remember that physician career transition is very difficult (otherwise, why would you be hiring someone to help you in the first place?) so paying this sort of money is usually justified.

At some point, you’ve got to just make a decision:  As you weed through opposing opinions, remember that if you ask ten people about your resume, you’ll get ten different opinions, often conflicting. Open your mind to alternative approaches and determine which opinion seems right for your specific situation.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember to go with your gut: Your gut is usually a pretty good judge.  Make sure you feel comfortable with this person from the onset.   Usually you’ll get a sense of that from the initial phone call and e-mails as you ask this person questions about their services.


By: Michelle Mudge-Riley, DO, MHA
President, Physicians Helping Physicians, LLC