Leave Top Surgical Residency Program for Finance

I'm currently a first year resident in a competitive surgical subspecialty program in the northeast. As my intern year as progressed, I've become extremely dissatisfied with the practice of medicine and i'm thinking of making the switch to finance or consulting.

How feasible is this and how can I go about making the switch to finance?

Background:
- B.S. in Molecular Biology from top school (HYPSM) with 3.6 GPA, Great MCAT score (34+)
- M.D. from highly regarded State University (ranked in top 20 medical schools)
- Currently an ENT resident at top program (Harvard/UCSF/Columbia caliber)

Prior to medical school, I worked for one year at a boutique consulting firm focused in Healthcare. No prior finance experience. Many friends in finance/consulting, so I'm familiar with the industry, but I have never worked in finance directly.

Would it be more feasible to go into Equity Research vs Investment Banking? How should I go about making the switch?

Comments (24)

Feb 22, 2019

Went to a target in science before studying finance, so I somewhat get you. You'd likely be highly regarded for roles in healthcare private equity. Non-science people don't seem to realize this, but the amount of research that goes into pretty much any life science educational background is highly relevant for due diligence, investment memo writing, high pressure and rational thinking-related roles. I'd skip investment banking and focus on, again, healthcare PE, healthcare/medical devices equity research and similar roles. Perhaps even healthcare tech VC if that's something that interests you.

You'll likely need to sharpen your financing modeling knowledge because it's unlikely that you'll get a free pass on finance technicals and modeling tests (unless perhaps in VC? Unsure), but otherwise you have industry specific knowledge and transferable skills that not many have. That being said, you're CV

Tbh, I think the most interesting part is the story. Being unique in an interviewing process won't be hard, unless you can't properly explain why you're making the move. That being said, you'll stand-out from a resume point of view so getting first round interviews shouldn't be too difficult. I'd suggest spending some time on scanning the industry, scheduling coffees with people in the roles mentioned to gauge the fit and learn more. Networking will be key in your transition, so it's basically a double whammy.
I personally opted for a non-healthcare industry for PE. I felt I needed a break, so don't worry if that's your case, because as mentioned the transferable skills are there. All you have to do is showcase them through your story during interviews.

Good luck!

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Feb 22, 2019

Do you mind sharing how was your transition from healthcare to finance? What school did you go to? thanks!!

"Knowledge comes from learning well retained, unfruitful else"

Feb 22, 2019

The switch wasn't complicated since I studied finance before looking for jobs, which isn't the same as looking for a job directly out of a BSc/MSc/MD. But as it was pointed out, you'll indeed get grilled on the reasons behind the switch, so build your story around that and make it good. Failing to do so will cost you credibility with the interviewer.

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Feb 22, 2019

Thanks alot for the advice! I'll look into the roles you mentioned. Are people open to recieving emails cold out of the blue?

There's alot of finance/business conferences on the campus of where my residency program is since the MBA program is one of the top in the country.

Would it be a good idea to sign up for one of the healthcare business conferences they host on campus, so I can make contacts at the meetings? It seems like it would be better to meet someone in person first, rather than cold emailing them out of the blue.

Feb 24, 2019

You'll have a better response rate reaching out to people who are undergrad alums, but in general, people will respond as it's a mainstay of the recruiting process. You'll get grilled on why you want to make the switch though--i.e., why you think banking would be more engaging than medicine.

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Feb 22, 2019

If you can find someone in a senior position with a similar background to yours, e-mail/message them on LinkedIn. People are typically hyper open to talking/providing insight to people with similar backgrounds, or at least from my experience being on both sides of the interraction. I've never enjoyed conferences and networking cocktails, but if that's your thing then take advantage of them. Otherwise, as I've mentioned, do a filtered search on LinkedIn and you'll very likely find an MD that is now a partner at a decent PE firm who wouldn't mind chatting for 30 minutes with you.

    • 1
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Feb 22, 2019

I've seen Evercore post some mid level roles in research that targets Medical Doctors

Feb 22, 2019

I can't see how this wouldn't be MORE interesting to many recruiters than your bog-standard commerce/finance degree. There's definitely been a push to hire more STEM grads.

Feb 22, 2019

Having never been in your situation, there is no way I'd leave your program for finance. Medicine has to be about 100x more intellectually stimulating and you're actually helping people. If you're really dead set on making the switch, it shouldn't be very hard. But why...you seem to be nearing the end of the medicine gauntlet.

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Feb 22, 2019

Thanks alot for the advice! I'll look into the roles you mentioned. Are people open to receiving emails cold out of the blue?

There's alot of finance/business conferences on the campus of where my residency program is since the MBA program is one of the top in the country.

Would it be a good idea to sign up for one of the healthcare business conferences they host on campus, so I can make contacts at the meetings? It seems like it would be better to meet someone in person first, rather than cold emailing them out of the blue.

Feb 22, 2019

One thing I wonder, though, is whether it is financially reasonable to switch so late in the game.

I have 3 more years of residency left. After which, I'd be guaranteed a $320k-400K salary for the rest of my life. Since ENT is a fairly low stressful surgical field, I wouldn't have to work many weekends.

Finance seems more interesting because medicine is absolutely soul crushing with the amount of documentation and BS. But I'm just not sure how much finance/ER pays in comparison to being a surgeon.

Feb 22, 2019

Do not take for granted that guarantee and portability of the skill. Finance of course has upside, but most likely you'd end up worse off in the long run IMHO

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Funniest
Feb 23, 2019

Soul-crushing documentation and BS, you say?? I have just the job for you.

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Feb 22, 2019

If you're running away from paper-work and BS, PE may not be for you after all. I go through market, legal, financial, technical and tax documents on a daily basis as part of due diligence. If that's what you're running away from, I'd suggest sticking to medicine. If money is what you're after as well, medicine is likely the best route, particularly given your school/program and your appeal for business. Start a private practice, build it well and you'll be crushing finance compensations easily.

Most Helpful
Feb 23, 2019

Personally, I don't see why you would switch to finance given the amount of time/effort you have already put into medicine. If you are guaranteed to make ~350k in 3 years then you should complete your residency and do a few years of practice. Your expertise isn't going anywhere and neither is the need for top financial firms to employ MD's with esoteric knowledge in their field.

If in 5 years you still feel that medicine is not for you and still want to make the move, then you should absolutely do so. At least at that point you will know that you gave the practice of medicine a shot and you have some savings in case things go awry.

The move from medicine to finance is relatively easy; the move from finance to medicine (after the discontinuation of a residency) is far more difficult. Just my 2 cents, take as you will.

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Feb 25, 2019

Completely agreed - this would be my rec as well.

Feb 23, 2019

Finance, especially banking has a very low success rate. Of 100 associates, maybe 2-5 make MD level (where you make $1mm+). Doctor will be a safer, more stable and less demanding on your future lifestyle, even if you make MD level.

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Feb 23, 2019

dont do it

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

    • 1
Feb 25, 2019

Do not do this. It's your life, but in my opinion it would be a huge mistake. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Your medical training might separate you from the crowd in finance, but it might not. I've seen physicians move into banking and thrive, and have seen others completely fail
  • You seem to not like paperwork, documentation, etc. Those things are not an annoying aspect of finance, they are pretty much all you do. Some of it is interesting, but much of it is mundane, repetitive, and pointless.
  • You can practice medicine in any city or town in the country and in 95% of them you will be at the tip top of the income and status ladder. Switch to finance and you'll pretty much have to spend the rest of your life in NYC or SF (maybe Chicago...from there it falls off sharply), where you have slightly above average purchasing power and status.
  • As an ENT you will have near total control over your schedule. You can work anywhere between 4-7 days a week (up to you) and no one will bother you. Finance you will work 60+ hours a week until you retire. You will miss ALL kinds of things - family events, vacations, kids' sports, birthdays, etc - that you will never get back.
  • You will probably need an MBA to enter finance no matter what (whether that's IB, ER, private equity, etc.). And if you go the equity research route, be advised that it is largely commoditized and compensation is headed in a bad direction.
  • Lots of ways you can make additional money as a doctor. Hire yourself out as a consultant to venture capital or PE firms, patent and license the IP for a new medical device, get an executive MBA and join a medical device company or HMO, etc. etc.
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Feb 25, 2019

Just a couple of quick points from someone who is in finance and is also dating a resident at one of the programs you listed:
- It's not uncommon for 1st year residents to feel down - it is often the most difficult year in terms of hours, ramping up to full speed, etc.
- You've put a lot of time into becoming a physician - there is no guarantee you will land something in finance whereas you have a strong possibility of being a successful doctor as long as you stick with it.
- The grass is always greener on the other side - many people envision a different career path as being "better" or "more interesting", but at the end of the day each job possesses its positives and negatives. All jobs have that.
- Perhaps you deeply love finance (in which case, why didn't you go that route out of undergrad?), but I would seriously consider the opportunity cost of making the switch at this point in your life.

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Feb 22, 2019

Thanks for all the advice. It does seem like the transition from Medicine to finance involves alot of risk and could potentially go very poorly. I think I'm going to go ahead and finish residency, then if I don't like medicine after a few years, I'll attempt to switch over to the finance/business side.

I appreciate everyone's input and advice!

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Feb 23, 2019

I think this is a good choice. Best of luck to you.

Feb 25, 2019
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Feb 26, 2019
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