doctor switching to finance

I am a 39 yo physician who no longer wants to practice. I really want to go into finance. I would like to go into IB, PE, HF. VC. Management consulting is also an option that I considered. I had an interview wIth McKinsey but got dinged. I tried to break in but it seems difficult bc of my nontraditional background. Some were interested bc of my medical background but I lacked finance experience. I am thinking about going to b-school but I heard it doesn't make sense unless it's a top b-school. Is it impossible because I'm older and have no finance experience? Can I overcome that by attending any decent b-school? I was hoping going to any b-school would give my switching some credibility. Any advice would be appreciated.

Comments (33)

Nov 3, 2012

Hmm. Why switch ? Doesn't make any sense. Doctors are making money, while finance types stand in the unemployment line.

So: Don't ! Unless you lost your license for malpractice. Did you operate on somebody's left foot instead of the right one ?

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Nov 3, 2012

Look at the Masters in Management programs at MIT and Stanford. Designed for people with lot's of experience.

Nov 3, 2012

Thanx for the input. Let me be more specific. I left residency before I could finish so I am not an attending making attending money. Going back is not my first option. If I can make a career in finance, I rather do that.
Let's just say I would rather have a mediocre job in finance than go back to medicine. So, is a career in finance still possible? I would go to b-school so I can find some internships and use OCR. Is it still worth it?

Nov 3, 2012

Bschool is the only way. Same reason I would need to go to medical school in order to be a doctor.

If you could transition, you'd need to start at the very bottom, and they don't hire 39 year old residency dropouts for these programs.

Also let me be very clear, there are exactly zero hedge funds in the world looking for someone with your background. ER would be your easiest bet but you'd still need an MBA from a tip top bschool.

Nov 4, 2012

Also let me be very clear, there are exactly zero hedge funds in the world looking for someone with your background.


What makes you so cocksure with certainty?

If he knew his stuff he could easily do the job of most analysts. Moreover, there are guys out there with purely medical backgrounds that are totally unrelated to finance that have killed it in the HF space. Not very common but far from improbable. In fact, with a few improvements in his profile I believe a health care related fund is very much within the realm of possibility.

I do agree with you that a MBA would be optimal at this point.

Nov 3, 2012

How is not going back to the residency program not an option? I'm not familiar with the process.

Anyhoos, buddy you are thirty fucking nine! You are old, chances are half your life is gone. How the heck is it after all of this you don't want to nor can become a attending??? By now I would expect that you have found a specialty possibly completed a fellowship.

Seriously you should be making bank, hell of a lot more than half the clowns on this site.

Think it through, you basically just wasted your life and made a series of massive life mistakes that are basically impossible to recover from.

Management programs/MBAs are only useful at your age if your story/rationale is you want to learn how to better operate/run a practice and help people. Let's be serious you quite frankly don't.

No chance you are never going to work in the finance industry but if your lucky you might end up on the health care group at an IB. That should be your target but chances are that won't happen.

Honestly, if I was a hiring manager I'd rather take the 20 year old HYPS grad than a completely untrained 41+ year old to do the same job.

Unless you can get into HBS, Wharton, Booth, Stanford or maybe Tuck - business school is not worth it. I'm assuming you already spent a lot of your own (or someone elses if scholarships) money to go through 3 - 4 years of undergrad, 4 years of med school and any additional schooling you may have had. Clearly a lot of that was wasted, want to waste more?

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Nov 3, 2012

Once again thanks for the advice. So I guess I have my answer. I was thinking bc I had my McKinsey interview, it wasn't too late, but apparently it is. Oh well I guess I just have to go back to medicine and be a doctor. I guess there are worse things in life.

Nov 3, 2012

BTW it was the left foot. JK.

Nov 3, 2012

I know of a doctor who did bio undergrad at school xyz 1 -> med school -> econ undergrad at school xyz 2-> is now a 1st yr analyst at an investment bank. Seems like a hell of a lot of work just to start off as a 1st yr...

Nov 3, 2012

did I read that right - he went to undergrad twice? I don't want it that badly. If getting into finance with my current situation is harder than getting into med school, I will gladly go back to medicine. I just didn't think it would be that hard if I went to b-school.

Nov 3, 2012

captainkoolaid - how old is this doctor?

Nov 3, 2012

I'm very curious. Why do you want to leave medicine and switch to finance? I would appreciate a PM

Nov 4, 2012

I know a friend who earned a PhD in physics from UIUC with no working experience in finance. He was admitted by Morgan Stanely last fall. He's 28-29 by the way... Age below 30 is a competitive factor when you first set foot on a new area

Nov 4, 2012

JRgalactic, listen to the above comments but take them with a grain of salt. It'll be near impossible to "break in" to high finance at this point w/o doing BSchool, but even then, your age isn't ideal. There are people with similar stories that have gone to have very successful careers in finance, like the (current?) Fidelity CEO. Older guy in an analyst class, killed it, worked his ass off, now the CEO of one of the largest asset management companies.

It's not surprising someone wants to go into finance as oppose to medicine. I initially went to undergrad for medicine but said fuck that after 1 semester.

Other options I would consider: Possibly masters in finance as oppose to MBA. Probably wouldn't get you into banking/VC, HF, PE, but could place you in a corp. fin. position at a large company. You could be strategic and aim for corp. fin. at a F500 health company, then try for a health division in IB, VC, PE.

Either way, start studying for the GMAT haha. Also maybe consider real estate. Not nearly as picky on pedigree/background as finance, but can still make just as much if not more money than in banking, w/o the 100 hour weeks.

Best of luck man.

Nov 4, 2012

Yeah i agree with the above comments stick to medicine. After so many years why do u want to change now??

Continue and work harder in the field of medicine itself.

If you ain't gettin money dat mean you done somethin wrong.

" If you have built castles in the
air , your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be .
Now put the foundations under
them." - Henry David Thoreau

Nov 4, 2012

I would love to do corporate finance. My fear is to study for the GMAT, go to some average b-school accruing debt and come out unemployed because of my age. I heard if you tell recruiters that you don't mind working like a 21yo, there might be a chance. I just wanted to hear informed opinions. I knew age is a factor but don't know if it is an absolute.

Nov 4, 2012

I would love to do corporate finance. My fear is to study for the GMAT, go to some average b-school accruing debt and come out unemployed because of my age.

This is a very legitimate concern. You will be taking a huge risk going this route because landing corporate finance job with a non-target MBA in hand is not that easy as it may seem to some college kids writing "IBD or bust" posts on WSO. If you go for an MBA, you better have a wife/trust fund to financially support you, otherwise you may end up in a world of pain.

Nov 4, 2012

Ive read all the comments above but i'll tell you .... its never completely black and white.

Obviously, if you were a 39 year old retired NBA all-star... you could walk into Goldman tomorrow and land a job. The former CEO of GM had a long career in MLB before getting fast tracked to CEO at GM.

IBanks look for special people (olympians, atheletes, exceptional entrepenuers), etc... if you are an exceptional person then age doesnt matter...

A side point: dropping out of residency doesnt have to be perceived as a bad thing. Say I was an MD in the healthcare group. Id want someone with your background and since you graduated med school (and you studied all courses).. Dropping out of residency vs. quitting 10 years into your career doesnt matter to me since I simply want someone that knows med school stuff at a basic level...

I would approach your problem as follows:
write your GMAT - if you get 700+ you can probably get into a top B school (and then it is forsure worth your while). If you dont get 700+, you should probably go back to being a doctor.

Will you land a job in business after you complete an average MBA? yes. Will that job be in IBanking.... maybe not. A very lucrative option of MBA is pharma sales ... you would be a shoe in for that.

Nov 4, 2012

A very lucrative option of MBA is pharma sales ... you would be a shoe in for that.


The guy is a good candidate for pharma sales, even without an MBA. He would be looking at ~$80K base + commission for the start on average. Not much worse than IBD.

Nov 4, 2012

Pharma sales? Oh man that's not a good gig. Much rather be a doctor than doing something like that! Sure its an easy way to make a decent living for a younger guy but it is a hardcore, shitty sales job with an absolute army of reps calling on doctors. I mean sure its a possibility but you don't go to med school to get into big pharma msales, maybe management but not sales.

Nov 4, 2012

Why don't you do more consulting interviews? Does it have to be McK? Go down the totem pole and apply to Campbell Alliance/IMS Health and alike. They are hiring people with your background (actually someone I know with a similar background got hired by one of those last week).

As for IBD/PE/HF/VC - extremely unlikely. They only need to fill a few positions in healthcare, and they have hordes of younger PhD/MBAs and MD/MBAs applying to healthcare groups, some with years of experience in the healthcare industry.

In IBD/PE being too old for entry level matters, too much education matters, no finance background matters. For consulting, none of it does, and even helps you a bit.

I'd forget finance and focus on consulting.

Nov 4, 2012

so you hate medicine after going through all that trouble, but why finance? What are your thought process that convinced you that finance would be the best route now?

Nov 4, 2012

OP, I would take what most people say here with a grain of salt. There are some things that hold true, e.g. MBA is traditionally and most likely the way to break in. But most advice is either not true (e.g. PE/HF wouldn't look at someone with your background), or overly generalized for the average candfidate. People make exceptions for legit candidates they really want.and you'll always find someone that don't follow traditional hiring practices. I suggest you start networking with VC/PE (especially biotech focused) firms and ask for their advice. Look at up VC firm that soley invests in life sciences, almost all the employees have some kind of science + MBA background. Also, reach out to biopharma companies's BD/CorpDev/Licensing/Partnership guys, majority of which is doing what you're thinking about doing. Some have MBAs, others had science backgrounds but did business by training. They'll be able to give you much better perspective than any of the posters here, majority of which haven't even worked in the finance industry at all.

Nov 4, 2012

Also, reach out to biopharma companies's BD/CorpDev/Licensing/Partnership guys, majority of which is doing what you're thinking about doing.

OK. I am a PhD, MBA, and work in BusDev/CorpDev for a biotech company, also interviewed for healthcare IBD and VC. That's as close of an industry opinion as he will be able to get from reaching out.

Nov 4, 2012

any md's in this position pm me.

Nov 4, 2012

Pick up the phone and call other MD's that are now in the roles you'd like to see yourself be in 5 years. There will be professional courtesy within doctors to take your call. I'm assuming its a small club. Bschool would be my at the bottom of the list. What you need is a mentor(s) that will help you out.
Call at least 100 people that are former MD's in finance - I'm sure you'll get one of them to steer you to the entry role.

  • Icarus
  •  Nov 4, 2012

Nice pic chimp doc

Nov 4, 2012

I made this exact switch myself. Residency to b-school to IB. It's tough, but not impossible. That said, I was about a decade younger than you when I started to transition.

PM me with specific questions that you might have.

Nov 5, 2012

I've met a lot of people with non-traditional backgrounds who opted for an MBA program at UCLA. They did fine with finding jobs in consulting, accounting, and finance.

On the other hand if you decide not to get an MBA:
Personally, I would suggest you look into financial advisory. It is far less technical and more sales oriented. In the beginning, you'll be calling clients from a large list of numbers. Those people won't know you and it'll be a hard sell. Some advisors also opt to hold presentations at community centers, companies, and schools. The failure rate in this business is high. But since you made it through medical school, i'm sure you can buckle down and dial phones for 8 hours a day.

Some firms you'll want to apply to include Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

I should note that although the title is "Financial Advisor." You won't necessarily be doing much technical finance work like choosing stocks unless you're comfortable doing so. Most big firms will assign you a financial analyst who is good at choosing stocks and bonds. So essentially, you'll just be calling clients and asking them to invest a small amount(say $50,000) into municipal bonds. When they transfer all of their savings, you might need to put together an equity portfolio which is not easy if you don't know how to analyze and research different companies.

It is not about the title that you have, it is about how much money that you have.

Nov 5, 2012

Icarus -
The pic that was posted, I did not upload myself. WSO must have a fine research team and a great sense of humor.

Nov 5, 2012

The answer is simple, top business school or bust. Take your GMAT, if you ace it, go for it. Plenty of MDs come from an industry background. Granted, I wouldn't want to start out as an associate at 41, but that is a decision only you can make. Finishing Med School/Residency is probably the easier route, but if you are dead set on finance then go after it. Obviously you are smart enough to do the job. Make sure you fully consider that at 40 years old you will be putting in 80+ hours a week and that job security doesn't exist in finance.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Sep 24, 2015
Aug 23, 2019