Emergency Physician to Consulting

EscapeMD's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

Hi all,

I am a practicing emergency medicine doc trying to leave the field of medicine. Though I could list all the reasons, I feel for now it is sufficient to say I have invested significant time into reaching this decision and am quite confident in it. With that said, I don't know how to get out! Long term, I do not know what I will pursue (and am not concerned yet - one step at a time).

The best I am able to conclude, consulting would be the way to go at this point (and I have a lot of interest in it). I went to a mid-tier med school, did well there (top 25%), completed my residency and am board certified in emergency medicine.

Been practicing about 2 years now. I am in the DC area. It seems impossible to find networking opportunities or meet people who have left medicine (because, I swear, once gone, they never come back). What steps can I take to get out? Cold calls/emails get me nowhere. I know it can be done, but I don't know how. Does anyone have recommendations?

Are there other entry level fields to consider? I am reluctant to pursue an MBA without a more definite long term career direction, but is this the best next step? I feel like the most important thing I can do is network and meet the right people, but I do not know where to find them or how.

Any help, connections, direction...whatever - would be immeasurably appreciated. I need to get out of clinical medicine.

Thank you,


Comments (30)

Dec 12, 2016

It won't let me PM you, can you PM me?

Dec 12, 2016

It won't let me yet - maybe I'm too new a user?

Most Controversial
Dec 12, 2016

" I have invested significant time into reaching [the decision to leave medicine] and am quite confident in it."

are you sure? because you spent 10-12 years to get a job where median compensation is ~$310k (MGMA emergency medicine comp). 99% of people in consulting will never receive that level of comp.

I have seen two or three similar posts on WSO over the past few months regarding physicians getting out of medicine. Check those out, and clarify why you want "consulting" and what exactly you mean by "consulting."

If I were you, I would look into finding an opportunity at a FSED in Texas. There is a FSED glut in certain metropolitan Texas cities, which is leading to rising demand for emergency medicine physicians and thus compensation. FSEDs are a relatively new concept, and if you could spend a few years at the provider level (make a bunch of money) and learn the "business-side" of FSEDs, you would be someone of value for a healthcare consulting company who is not as familiar with the space.

The Advisory Board Company is based out of DC. Try to link up with someone in their consulting practice.

Dec 12, 2016

Have done the FSED as well as traditional. Respectfully, there are many physicians that make a good buck, and find that the finances are hardly sufficient to justify the job. As I mentioned, I have spent A LOT of time considering this decision. Do you have experience as a health care provider? If so, did you enjoy it? Did you leave it? I have never met a physician that has come back from some other career to practice medicine again. But I know MANY physicians desperate to leave clinical medicine in its current form but unsure of how to proceed, or have built a life based on an income that they are now dependent upon (and are therefore unable to leave).

Dec 13, 2016

I do not have any experience as a provider.

Mar 5, 2019

the first year Phds/MBA at MBB pull close to $250K on their first year and slightly less on their second-year cause of sign on bonus.

$310K isnt far off.. Other tier 2s are slightly less, but not too far off.

I also hear that Lifescience consultants are in great demand... I know LEK had a hard time filling the spots last year.

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Dec 13, 2016

Out of curiosity, I'd really like to hear the reasons you want to leave. Could you elaborate more? My girlfriend is pursuing a medical degree, and I don't envy her...

More related to the topic: there are really two ways to go about this. The first is to go get an MBA, which seems limited in its value/use as you're already a very experienced professional. The second is to use your connections/network to find others who have made the jump into consulting - this can be your school's alumni network (not just the medical school), other 2nd or 3rd degree contacts that you can get introduced to, etc.

All that being said: what type of consulting do you want to do? Healthcare consulting is right up your alley, but if you're looking at a more generalist type, it might be hard to do. You can also look at applying for the expert tracks for many of the consulting firms: they do hire doctors, particularly for healthcare practices.

Dec 13, 2016

PM me if you'd like to discuss my thoughts on the medical career.

I do think healthcare consulting is what I would like to do; be able to make use of my medical background on some level - just not for clinical practice any more. I know these consulting firms will hire, but it does seem like you need to know someone to make some progress. Hence, trying to network of course.

Dec 13, 2016

A couple options are pretty easy transitions. Work for a healthcare vendor as a clinical expert, examples would be Cerner, Epic, insert start-up here. Work for a consulting company in its healthcare practice, either in strategy or healthcare ops. MBB, Deloitte.

If you decide to pursue an MBA, I would urge you to do it at a school that has a distinct healthcare program or a top school. You've got a lot of valuable experience, but it is in a particular field that doesn't translate that well to other industries. I would say get networking ASAP. Go on linkedin, use the advanced search function and look up people who work in consulting who went to medical school. Not everyone may reply, they are busy people, but you won't get any replies if you don't send the messages.

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Best Response
Dec 13, 2016

I don't mean to sound somewhat downbeat, but I just want to throw out the old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side. I am sure you have done a lot of due diligence on consulting ("I have invested significant time...") and your interests might align there, but I would approach it from a more practical stand point in terms of what is the probability I could get a consulting job given my experience / what steps do I need to take to increase that probability.

If you are truly interested in consulting, I would echo what others have said before me and continue to try and network (reach out to both undergrad and post-undergrad classmates that are in consulting) as well as consider a MBA given your experience (9+ years of med school, residency and practicing).

Lastly, just my two cents here, but unless you honestly hate emergency medicine, I would maybe consider the cost/benefit of leaving a relatively fulfilling job for a field where things are less certain - my gf is a 3rd year med student at a "good" school (aspirations of Cards or Ob/Gyn) and I honestly feel like her life is more satisfying than all of my friends in finance, myself included. Everyone is different though, and if you truly feel like you have no career in medicine then I would reiterate that you should continue to try and network and consider a MBA.

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Dec 13, 2016
808s and Heartbreak:

My gf is a 3rd year med student at a "good" school (aspirations of Cards or Ob/Gyn) and I honestly feel like her life is more satisfying than all of my friends in finance, myself included.

I don't mean to sound somewhat downbeat, but I just want to throw out the old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side.

    • 1
Dec 13, 2016

Fair enough. Really just commenting per an aggregated basis - I would argue my HF, PE and IB buddies are less satisfied with their jobs than the average doctor. No scientific data, just providing an opinion based on my experiences. I personally like my job and would not want to be a doctor. I was using the adage to point out that one should be careful in assessing other opportunities.

    • 1
Dec 13, 2016

Well if you don't mind me asking, what is it that you don't enjoy about your career? What is the general consensus that your finance coworkers have about their job(s)? I will say that being in med school is not the same as being a practicing doctor...by a long shot.

Dec 13, 2016

Difficult question to address via a post (not a fan of typing out essays), but I honestly like my job because I have a genuine interest in finance. Many people I know are in it purely for the money. It gets difficult to continue liking your job when you entered because of the money and your work/life balance deteriorates, you don't like your bosses and you feel like an expendable piece.

I completely realize med school doesn't equal practicing doctor in terms of hours, demands, etc. My sense is that most people who become doctors are extremely passionate about what they're interested in. A lot of them realize they could have done IB, consulting, accounting or something similar out of undergrad as a lot of them did well in undergrad and are just naturally smart people, but they have absolutely no interest in the field. You will always get the doctors who are primarily concerned with money, but I believe most just want to help people and most have a genuine interest in their field... true, they get paid well, but it's often not the #1 factor behind them wanting to become a doctor (at least from my sample set).

I've seen a lot of my friends pick their medical specialty because they are genuinely interested in it... I would argue a large number of kids out of undergrad aren't genuinely interested in finance, but do it because of the money. I will say that you've likely done a lot of research on the field and really want to do consulting. If that is the case, I would definitely recommend you following what you want to do and make the move - I'm only trying to show the other side of the coin.

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Dec 13, 2016

Do you have the ability to move outside the DC area or are you set on staying put? I only ask because there are probably opportunities (consulting, VC, etc.) in healthcare hubs like Boston or Nashville that may not be available in DC.

I am not sure how med schools work with job placement, but if there is a career center (or director of alumni) at your school, I would try reaching out and see if they know of any former students who have made a similar switch. You could also ask other doctors you work with / know to see if they have any friends who have made this transition.

    • 1
Dec 13, 2016

I work in operations/clinical finance at a major health system. Have you considered moving to the strategy departments of a large health system? I know this might not be enough of a move out of healthcare but it seems like the much more likely route. I would imagine that your clinical expertise could be very unique and beneficial in a strategy or continuous improvement sort of role. However, the operations side of healthcare is compensated much lower than physicians so this might not be an option you are willing to consider.

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Dec 13, 2016
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Dec 14, 2016

Dear OP

I don't think this is the right forum for careers in healthcare consulting ! Heck anyway here is my 2 cents

Healthcare consulting

The Pros

  1. Clear career progression : analyst , associate , consultant, senior consultant, VP or partner.
  2. Salary and compensation : initially lower than average MD depending on your position however as you progress it becomes way higher than any MD.
  3. Skills building : actually you don't need an MBA becuase a reputable consultancy does better job training you than any MBA, however most people seek MBA to get them into the consultancy doors ( aka networking and connections) .
  4. Generous leaves, part time work.

The cons

  1. Travelling
  2. Long hours and time deadlines for some projects

If travelling becomes an issue , your skills/connections from consulting will be great asset when applying for senior executive position in healthcare corporate .

Best of luck

Dec 14, 2016

Thank you - that is about what I thought. Again, my thinking being that only time will tell if consulting is the right end-career for me, but it will nonetheless represent a great first step should I find it isn't what I'm looking for, thanks to its networking opportunities.

Dec 14, 2016

Have seen many doctors that have made the switch from medicine to finance. My guess is this is also true for consulting.

Dec 14, 2016

Do you personally know of any that have made the transition into finance? Do you know what path they took, or how they got their "in"?

Dec 14, 2016

I am a practicing EM physician as well. Have also given significant thought to switching over to consulting for a variety of reasons. I definitely want to stay in healthcare consulting given the unique background Would love to get in touch with you, EscapeMD. I did attend the Bridge2BCG over the summer to get a better understanding of what I could be getting myself into. Left it feeling more encouraged. Did talk to several board-certified PLs and 1 ED principal that still does the occasional shift. No regrets by any of them but probably a biased group.

My plan is to apply next summer as an ADC.

Dec 21, 2016

There are many others out there like you, so many that there's a website for y'all: www dot dropoutclub dot org (I'm not allowed to post links yet).

Apr 17, 2017

EM doc as well in the midst of transitioning. Anyone want to talk, PM me

Mar 5, 2019

Hi EscapeMD,

I am currently a second year IM resident and I just came across this thread.

Like you, I have SERIOUSLY been thinking of getting out (once I finish residency) and going into consulting rather than clinical medicine for reasons I'm sure you can relate to. Since posting this thread in ~2016, have you had any luck with consulting/business/getting out of medicine? What did you end up doing? Any advice?


Mar 13, 2019

I PMd you

Mar 13, 2019


Aug 21, 2019
Aug 21, 2019