From medical school to consulting or banking?

duperme's picture
Rank: Monkey | 30

I went to college at a school ranked in the 20s with a minor in business and I will be finishing medical school in 2012 at a school ranked in the 10s. GPA is 3.9 in college, and my grades are above average in medical school.

My questions:
1. how competitive am I for a job at a consulting firm or Ibanking firm as an associate if I wish to work right after my MD degree?

  1. Assuming I get hired, will I be at a disadvantage in moving up because I have almost no business background compared to my colleagues who likely had analyst-->MBA backgrounds?
  2. Just how hard is it to move up in consulting/ibanking from an associate? Is it 80% move up...50%...20%?
  3. Money wise (just talking about money, not about lifestyle or interest), will it be worth it? I can realistically make about $500k as a doc but that will not begin until 5 years post medical school, in the meantime I make $50k.

Comments (46)

Dec 19, 2010

why aren't you sticking to medicine? serious question here. i can give you pointers on consulting, for which i think you will be competitive, but i am curious as to why you'd want to leave medicine.

Dec 19, 2010

I say stick it out, now that you have an MD. You will make more in the next 5 years in banking/consulting, for sure, but 500k guaranteed is better than a crap shoot climbing the corporate ladder, plus you'll probably work less hours esp if you are in a lifestyle specialty. Also, 500k guaranteed as a doc?! Is that radiology/ophthalmology? Seems like you got into a really competitive residency - why waste it. I'd say ROAD > Banking/Consulting > Other specialties, given that you already have the MD. This is a huge generalization, of course. What type of work will you prefer? That should be your #1, obviously.

Dec 19, 2010

Stick with medicine if you have a good specialty.

Regards

Dec 19, 2010

I'm really curious about #3. What is the attrition rate like at MBB?

As a pre-med who decided on consulting, I don't think it'll be worth the money now that the cost of medical school is sunk. 5 years making decent living (50k) and VP/Principal level pay after than (note: I really doubt you'll start off with 500k unless you do retina surgery, plastic surgery, dermatopathology, etc. - even radiology/ortho you start much lower than $500k) slightly beats consultant --> VP --> Principcal --> Partner considering the risk involved.

Dec 19, 2010

Do what you feel like doing. Stick with medicine IF you think you'll enjoy it more.

  1. Depends on what firm and your (detailed) background. 3.9 top 20 bschool isn't a big deal, but depending on extracurriculars and grad school performance you might be. Consulting firms like MDs (lots of pharma business)
  2. Not at all in consulting. Not necessarily in banking as long as you learn what you need to quickly. If you don't have a mind for finance/learning excel though, that becomes a problem very quickly

3.Turnover is VERY high at top consulting firms - most associates would have bailed by end of third year. I'd guess 20% ish make it into the principal/partner range. This doens't necessarily mean people are getting forced out, however. If you work at a top firm so many good opportunities will come your way. If youre looking for job security/certainty though, you get more of that in medicine.

  1. Consultants will make more money over the long term and the short term. There is some point in the intermediate phase where a doctor might be earning 500k to a consultant's 250... (caveat: I don't know how quickly you ramp up to your 500 post-residencey)
Dec 19, 2010

You need to be more clear about which medical school you go. There are many (most) medical schools in the 10-20 ranked range that, while being good medical schools, have weak university brands (Sinai, Pitt, for example) in terms of consulting at the MBB level. Consulting firms are very brand obsessed.

Also, you will certainly not make $500k guaranteed right after residency, even if you do a surgical speciality (minimum 6+ years). You may hit it eventually with the right luck and experience, but don't count on being 32-35 and pulling that. You're more likely to be in the 200-300 range right outside residency.

Jun 14, 2011

Thanks for the replies guys.

I know I won't be making 500k straight out of residency, but if I do orthopedics or radiology (both 5 yr residency), i start at 350k and get 500k-600k in about 5 years (and I am capped there for life), so I just said 500k for the sake of simplicity. Orthopedics entail overnights phone calls and 70 hr workweeks...Radiology is a sweet life but at the stroke of a pen politicians can change its compensation, since radiologists don't see patients at all and thus have a lot less leverage (from hospitals, from other docs, with supply and demand...no need to explain the reasoning). To be honest, medicine bores the crap out of me, after learning the knowledge, I just feel like a highly trained technician with little creative outlet, performing medical functions that are "compassionate" but oftentimes unethical under rational principles ($150k worth of treatment to prolong a low functioning patient's life from 75 to 78?...how does this really help mankind in the grand scheme of things?).

So, should I forgo residency and get in to consulting? What is the worst case scenario if I shoot for consulting? Say I end up at a middle tier consulting firm and I can't make it past associate...what kind of exit options do I have? Also, what does it take to move up...schmoozing skills or performance? And...if I work in pharm consulting would my upside be limited compared to someone who has more general knowledge/experience?

Btw, I am a graduate of UT and I go to Baylor College of Medicine (prestigious med school with long tradition, rankings fluctuate between top 10 to 20s, but unknown to those outside of medicine). MCAT 37 (98th percentile).

Dec 19, 2010

I'd recommend looking into MBA programs - even without formal work experience, sometimes a few MDs will slip in every now and then. You will need to make a strong case for why you'll benefit from the MBA.

I'm sort of in a similar boat, though not in med school, I have taken the MCAT. More interested in banking than consulting, however. Starting to feel the same way about medicine as you are (highly trained technician).

Not sure what the career path is for mid tier consulting. The truth is, there are many consultants out there (every over-educated person pretends to be a consultant at some point), and my worry in your case would be that you'd be part of that amorphous, undifferentiated group.

Have you considered doing an IM residency, and then doing consulting? Best of both worlds, perhaps?

Dec 19, 2010

USC-BCM is a good combo. I know a guy who eventually did ortho surgery with that route.

Listen, dude, you need some direction here. If you are trying to get out of a boring and meaningless life, why are you considering consulting? Out of the pan and into the fire.

I'm not going to BS you here. Stick to medicine. You come over to consulting and I'm 90% sure you will rue it for the rest of your life. At least finish residency and a fellowship.

My friends from UG went 1/3 business, 1/3 academics, and 1/3 medicine/surgery. And most of them did very well in each, so the pros/cons I hear from them aren't the gripings of people who didn't make it.

Trust me, the medicine guys have the LEAST remorse in their decision.

Think it through and if you really want to do this thing, PM me.

Mar 12, 2014

Duperme, what did you decide?

I'm finishing up my undergrad at McCombs. Wondering if I should go to medical school or directly into MC.

Dec 9, 2014
bluezebra5:

Duperme, what did you decide?

I'm finishing up my undergrad at McCombs. Wondering if I should go to medical school or directly into MC.

+1, in a similar position. Accepted to top-20, prestigious brand med school. Don't want to do medicine anymore. Considering doing medical school and then getting out and doing consulting. Not sure if it is worth 250K+ in debt for the two letters though. Not sure how I would get into MC otherwise though.

Dec 9, 2014
bluezebra5:

Duperme, what did you decide?

I'm finishing up my undergrad at McCombs. Wondering if I should go to medical school or directly into MC.

+1, in a similar position. Accepted to top-20, prestigious brand med school. Don't want to do medicine anymore. Considering doing medical school and then getting out and doing consulting. Not sure if it is worth 250K+ in debt for the two letters though. Not sure how I would get into MC otherwise though.

Dec 9, 2014

Is there an MD/MBA option in your school?

Dec 9, 2014

There is an MD/MBA, it is a 5 year program. I believe the additional cost of adding the MBA is around $60,000. MBA program is top 25.

It is a route I was considering if I decided to stick it out. Unfortunately since my interest in a finance career is recent, I never did any relevant internships in undergrad. I am hesitant of this route because without any related experience, I don't know what my post mba job-prospects would look like if I pursued the MD/MBA and choose to forgo residency and search for a job in finance.

Dec 9, 2014
medman7:

There is an MD/MBA, it is a 5 year program. I believe the additional cost of adding the MBA is around $60,000. MBA program is top 25.

It is a route I was considering if I decided to stick it out. Unfortunately since my interest in a finance career is recent, I never did any relevant internships in undergrad. I am hesitant of this route because without any related experience, I don't know what my post mba job-prospects would look like if I pursued the MD/MBA and choose to forgo residency and search for a job in finance.

Hey Medman,

As something you could do post MBA / MD - Healthcare hedge funds are HUGE now a days. Take a look at RA or Sarissa management - the guys make a killing investing in biotechnology firms in their first or second phases of clinical development. I have recently done a ton of research on the healthcare hedge-fund space and it is ripe with opportunities for professionals like you who know how to value a new drug as well as value a stock. Too many in the industry only have the former, and end up paying through the nose to get advisers for the latter. Having both will be a rare commodity - I would say this is especially true in five years time as increases in GDP cause rapid spending growth in emerging markets, and babyboomers reach the last years of their life (where the super majority of ones' lifetime healthcare spending is).

Your relevant experience are all the lab work you have done throughout the years. I am not in the medical field, but if you decide for this route, get chummy with a lab professor who can point to all the work you did (not sure how it works) and try and get a thesis paper published.

NEPC article about investing in healthcare funds:

http://www.nepc.com/writable/research_articles/fil...

^^ really shows how attractive the space is for investment

Anyway, just some thoughts, happy to provide more insight.

"I am not sure who this 'Anonymous' person is - one thing is for certain, they have been one hell of a prolific writer" - Anonymous

Dec 9, 2014

Have you considered consulting? McKinsey loves MDs or maybe you can consider areas in healthcare IB Equity Research or consulting with an MBA minus the MD

Dec 9, 2014

McKinsey is a great suggestion. If I end up sticking out the MD it is definitely an alternative route I would consider. However, I don't know if I can justify taking on additional debt for 3 years just to get the MD knowing that I don't want to enter clinical medicine.

At this point I would like to start applying for jobs so that I can leave at the end of the semester. Healthcare IB or Equity Research is definitely where I would like to end up. Since I already have a bachelors degree, I am assuming I am no longer applicable for the summer internship programs in IB or ER that are typically offered to undergrads. I know landing a position in either area is very competitive and that many people spend all 4 years of college networking and building their resume to land a position in those areas.

Since I will be 2 years post undergrad w/ 1 year of grad school under my belt, I am basically starting off from scratch competing with people who knew they wanted to do this in undergrad. So essentially what I am asking is what is the best route to get my foot in the door for an entry-level analyst position in healthcare IB or ER. Should I start trying to land any finance-related job that I can to use as a stepping stone to begin networking and cold calling. Or would I be better off taking a job in biotech and studying for level I CFA and try and use that to make the transition. Or due to my background in biology will I ultimately need to get an MBA before I can make the transition. Also how will dropping out of medical school after 1 year look to recruiters?

Dec 9, 2014

At the moment it's quite difficult to imagine a scenario where you would immediately land an IB/Equity Research position in the industry. I think your work experience in biotech will help establish a good base, but eventually you will need a catalyst like an MBA program to get you where you want (unless you finish out your MD).

The obvious downside is that the MBA will cost you ~$150k, but you would create a realistic chance in realizing your goals. If you can synthesize a compelling story behind your transition from MD to MBA and your future aspirations in IB/ER/Consulting, then I think your profile will look amazing.

I think a good course of action would be to study for the CFA and also network through your alumni base. Leave no stone unturned, but establish a backup plan by applying for strong MBA programs. So, if your cold-calling and networking does not bear any fruit, then you hop onto an MBA program and you're set to go.

Dec 9, 2014

Check out this JPM position for Healthcare Equity Research Associate. It's open for application.

Go to : https://jpmchase.taleo.net/careersection/2/moresea...
Search for Requisition ID: 130017395

Dec 9, 2014

Also - sorry I went off on the rant, I didn't really offer advice about switching fields as I have none. Good luck with the decision

"I am not sure who this 'Anonymous' person is - one thing is for certain, they have been one hell of a prolific writer" - Anonymous

Dec 9, 2014

Michael Burry did it. :)

Dec 9, 2014

know a couple people that have gone through this. if you switch now, you'll restart. If you get your MD, you can then go into a life sciences PE firm and make a killing (or HF or whatever)...like most of the people said above, theres tons of places you could be a rockstar in finance as an MD, but if you switch now you'll just be another average joe finance guy looking for entry level positions along with 500 other guys

Dec 9, 2014

Look at Michael Burry and Ken Shubin Stein. They managed to do it

Dec 9, 2014

May be off topic, but I

Dec 9, 2014

Huh. This is a really big decision... I really really suggest you get out there and physically meet people in the industry (or over the phone if you have to). I mean meet people from all areas of finance, including ER, i banking, corporate finance, even consulting. See what all these jobs are like, figure out the details from a real person in the industry. I noticed one interesting thing: you said that you want a job in finance, then listed i-banking (I'm thinking M&A here), equity research, PWM. All three of those industries entail very different career paths, pay structures, and work-life balances.

Also, can't just pick what job you want, and the true financial services (I-Banking, equity research, Asset Management, trading, etc.) are the most competitive, and there is no guarantee you will get in and if you get in there is no guarantee you will last. Are you ok with taking a second-choice finance role?

Also, from your post it seems like career safety/money are big reasons for your interest in exiting medicine and entering finance. Follow your dream, follow the $, idk, that's a personal decision on how you weigh the two. Just don't think you are going to be able to grab a $100k job right away and be on your way to Park Avenue. It's extremely competitive, there are no guarantees. With that, good luck.

Dec 9, 2014

Regarding your three points:

1. Real compensation in finance is probably at a multi-decade low, and going lower. Not only that, if you do well you get paid in large part in monopoly money (deferred, unvested compensation).
2. Job security in finance is nonexistent. It is much better in healthcare as a physician.
3. You're not going to make much impact in finance either; finance is not a holistically fulfilling career.

Without your MD, you're just another biology major with little chance to break in. Your best bet is sticking it out through your current program (the joint MD/MBA as others suggested is an even better idea imo).

If you're smart and know what you're doing, you'll be able to get a very good job and pay off your debt, so I wouldn't worry about that part too much.

Dec 9, 2014

As people suggest, consulting would be a good option. You could try landing a job at MBB before dropping out of your medical program. If you don't get in, then get an MD and try again. Consulting takes people straight out of advanced degree programs without any experience or any other prerequisites.

Going into finance at this point will be problematic. First, you don't really have an MD to differentiate yourself for specialized positions in healthcare finance. Second, even when you have an MD, or an MD/MBA, this does not set you as much apart from the crowd as it used to. These days there are many people with MD/MBA, PhD/MBA, or MD/PhD/MBA. More people than there are positions where those combos are useful. Third, no finance background and no experience in finance will very likely ding you on the resume screening stage everywhere.

MBA without relevant work experience puts you in a very risky position. Get at least some relevant internships if you decide to go that route.

You will have a decent shot at Equity Research positions with an MD, but without it - not so much.
Hedge Funds, in my experience, want someone with industry/clinical trial experience, just a newly minted MD won't cut it.

Dec 9, 2014

Thank you all for your advice, insight and encouragement. It is extremely helpful and I am grateful for all the feedback.

After reading through the comments, it seems that sticking out the MD at this point is my best shot for not only breaking in but also setting myself up for long term career success in a finance related field. Without the MD I can tell that it will be very difficult to land a position with an unrelated degree, no relevant internships and no finance experience. As Bankn mentioned, I definitely do have to spend some time meeting and talking with people in various areas of finance to figure out where I would like to ultimately end up. Based on my research and brief conversations thus far, my interests are broad and there are many areas of finance that seem very appealing, namely M&A, PE, HF, and ER. Additionally they all appear that they can have a specialized healthcare/biotech/pharma focused component as well. I would prefer to end up in a banking/finance role vs. consulting, but if consulting is something that could help get my foot in the door, I would definitely consider it.

We have a break this summer for slightly over two months. During that time, I think I will look into taking the GMAT and applying to do the joint MD/MBA program. Atleast from what I've observed, it seems that most MBA programs have time for a formal internship built into the curriculum. I'm not sure how much the structure of the MD/MBA program differs from the traditional MBA, but assuming that I could land a relevant internship during that time, it seems that might give me atleast some base experience to open some doors where I after graduating I could pursue a finance career and forgo residency.

Thank you all again for your insightful and thoughtful comments.

Dec 9, 2014
medman7:

I'm not sure how much the structure of the MD/MBA program differs from the traditional MBA, but assuming that I could land a relevant internship during that time, it seems that might give me atleast some base experience to open some doors where I after graduating I could pursue a finance career and forgo residency.

Structure depends a lot on the particular program. I can tell you how my PhD/MBA worked.
For a PhD, classes are only a small part of the degree requirement, so you have the PhD classes crammed into your first year, and after you are done with quals, you have all your time for research (and some mandatory teaching). By doing PhD/MBA you sacrifice a large chunk of your research time to take MBA classes, while trying not to lag too far behind in your PhD project. MD/MBA will probably just add some additional semesters for your MBA classes, since MD curriculum is less flexible than PhD curriculum.

Keep in mind that virtually all these combo programs have a nasty feature: they won't let you get an MBA and run away. You are either awarded both degrees or none. At least officially that's how it stands, even though there might be ways around it in some circumstances.

Dec 9, 2014

I think you need to stick it out and get the MD. You need to get to 3rd year before you can really 100% say you want out of medicine. Preclinicals doesnt really show you what medicine is really all about. Im a 1st year med student too. Sometimes, life as a med student does suck and there is uncertainty in the future of healthcare. If you quit med school now, it will be hard to break in anywhere unless you have good connections/ network like crazy.

Dec 9, 2014

I echo the comments above, don't leave until you have a job. I wouldn't rely on your BA and research stint, as MBB/finance has plenty of PhDs and postdocs to pick from.

Dec 9, 2014

It definitely can be done. I completed my BSc in 2012 at a top 10 with intentions of going to med school and landed a i-banking job 4 months after graduating. Make sure you do your research and if you are 100% set on this and know that finance is the industry for you than I recommend not finishing your MD and taking on all that debt. The number one thing you can do in your situation is to begin to network (cold emails!) and you will build relationships with people in the industry that will help you make the correct decisions and mold you during the process. In addition to networking, you need to gain some financial knowledge/background for your resume. No one is going to hire you if you haven't shown that you have fully diagnosed the finance idea and are still 100% committed. Upon graduation, I studied one month for CFA level I (and passed), completed financial modeling courses, joined finance clubs, and completed a certificate course specific to the industry I was interested in focusing on (O&G). Trust me though, if you are motivated, you will get there. But honestly, the one thing overlooked by most people trying to break into the industry though is the importance of networking. When you are in that position you are always thinking of how you can better your resume. Sure, it is important to gain somewhat of a finance background in order to show you are for real, but I cannot stress enough how important and rewarding the networking thing will be for you. Line up coffees, phone calls, etc. Make sure you keep track of your networking, last time you followed up and stay on top of things! Hope that helps! Good luck!

Dec 9, 2014

I think you want to consider the longer term of your career beyond consulting, which for most people only lasts 2-4 years (<10% of their entire careers). As an ex-McK consultant in pharma/biotech, and now at a boutique firm, I can tell you in this industry having MD after your names opens upon whole new vistas, whether you ever practiced or not. Of course, if you are miserable in Med School and couldn't stand staying around to finish, that is one thing. Else, in the long term, the option value of completing the MD degree seems quite high.

Between now and then, you could look at some healthcare internships or research opportunities. A lot of universities have a BD/IP department that constantly calls for cheap labor to assess ideas that the faculty has. Getting involved in this gives you a great thing to talk about in interviews. Also, generally start to read up on business - WSJ, NYT - and be able to show you have an abiding interest in the intersection of science/medicine with commerce.

Hope this helps.

    • 1
Dec 9, 2014

Hi KenB,

Are you a doctor turned consultant? What is the timeline between application and getting hired for these types of jobs. I'm trying to figure out if I want to do another year of residency, get a business degree, or try to get a job.

Dec 9, 2014

No - not a MD, but a PhD. My healthcare focus is in pharma / biotech and related areas, so can speak mostly to the value of a MD in that area. In pharma / biotech there is a culture/organization divide between "medical/clinical" and "commercial". As a MD with management consulting experience, you get keys to both sides, which can be very powerful over the course of a career. On the commercial side, it gives you instant gravitas whenever the discussion turns to clinical points.

With a good management consulting experience, I doubt an additional business degree would add much value.

As noted, MDs are always in high demand, and if you look at career progression statistics (utilization, performance ratings, yield to partner, etc.) they make out very well as a subpopulation alongside MBAs, PhDs, JDs, and other post-grad degrees.

The timeline varies. Big firms generally hire with one large fall cycle and one smaller spring cycle. For the fall cycle, you start interviews in September working toward offer by November, sell process in December, and then expect the class to start the following Summer from June onwards. You can interview and then defer a start, however.

Boutiques, I find, are a bit more flexible to year-round hiring - though big firms do that as well, particularly for experienced hires. I'd plan on 2-3 months for the recruiting process, and expect that the biggest windows of activity happen 1-2 times in a year. So, it is generally not immediate, though we recently hired someone coming off of a completed overseas fellowship who was ready to go, and started very shortly after receiving an offer.

Hope this helps ...

Ken

Dec 9, 2014

Completely agree with kenB. Having an MD degree opens doors. You could finish your intern year or pick something non demanding like family medicine. Get into consulting.
Consulting firms value MDs because they have experienced the payer side of the equation. Also speak with a few MD consultants, shadow if you can... Best of luck !

Dec 9, 2014

OP, if you are going to do it, complete residency. Not gonna lie, finish up your time in Med School first and then look at moving. Just because you have an MD doesn't mean everyone will take you seriously if they know you haven't finished your residency. If you are doing a residency, at least go with something where you get serious hospital time - like Internal Medicine - and can leverage your understanding across multiple areas of care unless you are doing something niche like Rad Onc. I would not focus on Peds or something similar just so you can say you finished your residency. Broad scope or highly competitive specialties are better. And the fact is, just because you have the title, doesn't mean you are able to practice - and that's something you need to remember, because most of the MDs you see in these roles have completed their residencies and are board certified (having completed Step 3 of the USMLE or the equivalent under the NBME system that was in use prior). Just something to keep in mind.

Dec 9, 2014

A few follow up questions:

1) How would medical students be screened by consulting firms for an interview? Many schools are pass/fail for the first two years, so there's not much of an academic record to look at. Test scores and undergraduate performance would be a few years old. There's only extracurriculars/leadership and maybe research left but those seem fairly subjective.

2) What role does the name of your medical school play? Is it like undergrad/MBA recruiting where consulting firms only look at a handful of target schools? If so, where is the cutoff? Top10? 20? 30?

3) Can people suggest any experiences that would help build a skill set that would potentially be useful in healthcare consulting? I liked how KenB mentioned looking for BD/IP work at universities for evaluating faculty ideas. Any others?

4) The McKinsey MD Fellow program that the OP mentioned sounds really interesting. I did a quick google search and found that although it was referenced in many places, it was no longer listed on the official McKinsey medical school recruiting page. Another program that I saw on Google was called "MD Rotation" where you join a healthcare project for a month, like a mini-internship but that was no longer posted on the McKinsey website either. Does anyone know if McKinsey still offers those programs?

Thanks.

Dec 9, 2014

same here thinking med school or IB

Dec 9, 2014
Dec 9, 2014