Are you an MD or DO wondering if you need a physician career advisor? Do you think your future career can benefit from a perspective of a professional?

You have overcome so much in your journey to becoming a doctor. You got into medical school despite insanely competitive medical school acceptance rates! And whether you are just working on your residency application or already matched to your desired residency, you are now facing decisions about your life after residency as a fully independent physician.

The truth is, even experienced doctors use the services of career advisors, so no matter at what stage of your life and career you’re at, the help of these professionals can be hugely beneficial.

In this article, we will go over why physicians turn to advisors for help, how these professionals help them and discuss whether these services are worth it. Finally, we will answer some of the most common questions about this valuable service. 

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Article Contents
10 min read

Why Do Physicians Use Career Services? How A Physician Career Advisor Can Help Can a Physician Career Advisor Help Med School Grads Without Residency? Conclusion: Should You Use Career Consulting? FAQs

Why Do Physicians Use Career Services?

Some of you might be wondering why physicians even seek career advisors, and that's understandable. Doctors are some of the most esteemed and high-earning professionals in our society. For most people, it's hard to imagine that a doctor would need outside help with job searches or money management. Firstly, we always hear about doctor shortages and think that there is just simply no way that a doctor cannot find a position. Secondly, we always hear about how much doctors make, so there is no way for them to experience financial problems. We usually considered doctors as "set for life" – happy and satisfied. 

In reality, this vocation is one of the most stressful, expensive, and exhausting careers out there. It is no wonder that around 54% of physicians report having a burnout, even during relatively stable periods. Furthermore, many physicians admit that work influences their after-hours lives so much that their time outside of work is also affected. For example, almost 50% of physicians in family medicine and internal medicine who participated in Medscape’s Lifestyle & Happiness survey reported that they were not happy outside of work. 

Did you know that 54% of polled physicians experience burnout?

Physicians jump through a lot of hoops to get where they are. Medical school applications alone can leave you exhausted. And not only do they have to worry about whether they get in, but they also have to worry about how much medical school costs. And once they are accepted, they spend years studying, learning how to ace the hardest rotations, then wondering how to choose medical school electives that will make them more competitive for residency; and this next period of training is even more demanding and exhausting. 

Figuring out how to choose a medical specialty is no easy task: how long is residency? Do I have what it takes to match? Can I get strong ERAS letters of recommendation or CaRMS reference letters to support my candidacy for this specialty? Planning alone is a challenge.

And once they are resident doctors, they are faced with years of hard work with little to no sleep. All this while trying to stick with their other commitments, such as family. What we are trying to say is that simply getting to the stage of being an independent physician is exhausting. You are always faced with challenging decisions and choices. And sometimes, it’s best to have some objective advice about where you are going and how you can get there. Based on some recent data, there is a surprising percentage of physicians who feel regret about their career choice; some due to burnout, some due to specialty choice. 

The point is, even professionals like physicians can benefit from career counseling. The right advice will significantly help you navigate this truly challenging journey. The goal of a physician career advisor is to make sure that you do not become unsatisfied with your work, that you do not regret spending all that money on medical school tuition, and that you find happiness and fulfillment as a professional. Whether you just finished your residency or have been in the workforce for years, if you are looking to improve the quality of your work satisfaction, a career advisor might be just the thing for you.

Still deciding on your specialty? Check out our tips below:

How A Physician Career Advisor Can Help

With all that being said, you might be wondering how exactly a career advisor can help a physician. Right off the bat, it's important to say that every career is unique. There are hundreds of reasons you might be looking for career advice as a physician, but we gathered the most common ones below.

Post-Residency Planning

Residency is intense. You are working long hours, picking up extra shifts, and trying to learn from your superiors every step of the way. Throughout all this training, when do you have time to plan your next steps? By the end of each day, you are so tired that you cannot even give your future any thought. During this time, you may have hundreds of questions, such as "where am I going after residency?", "where am I going to live?", "Should I start looking for positions now?", and many more.

With so many questions and so many options before you, it may be difficult to make a choice. A physician career advisor will be able to help you narrow down the options that are best for you. For example, they may provide you with information on what kind of opportunities are available to you outside of your town or city, where your skills and experiences will be valued. They may even help you plan your move to a different part of the country.

Essentially, they may be able to provide some certainty at a time when your future is wide open to possibilities that are hard to navigate. Tackling these short-term goals is important, so planning your immediate career post-residency is key. By taking the right steps with the help of a career advisor, you can set yourself up for success in the long term.

Employment vs Business Ownership

One of the most common long-term questions physicians ask themselves is whether they should stay employed with a medical institution or whether they should start a private practice. This is a huge decision not only financially, but also in terms of your work satisfaction. Some physicians love being employed. They have job security and stability while working with a variety of specialists and other medical professionals.

Other physicians love being in control of their work environment. Their entrepreneurial streak is satisfied by running a private practice. They also tend to make more money than their employed colleagues, but as with any private enterprise, there are always risks associated with running your own business. Plus, you have to pay ridiculously high overhead costs, including rent, equipment, staff, and more.

Not only can a career advisor help you make the difficult choice between being employed and starting your own business, but they can actually help you establish it if you go with the latter option. Starting a business requires a lot of knowledge and patience. How do you start? Where do you find a location? How do you get a loan? Should you get a partner? And they're so many more questions you will have if you decide to own your own practice. A career advisor will be there with you every step of the way to provide objective, helpful advice to increase your chances of success.

Whether you are a physician with years of experience or a young professional who recently finished your training, a career planner can help you shape your future as a doctor, whether you choose to be an employed professional or a business owner. 

Medical School Debt

As a medical school hopeful, you were wondering how to pay for medical school. Now, as a physician, you will be wondering how you can pay off some of the medical school debt. Even if you are one of the highest paid doctors out there, you are more than likely to have thousands of dollars in debt. On average, the medical school debt is around $100,000 in Canada and around $215,900 US for graduates of medical schools in the US. You have to start planning to pay back some of this debt as soon as you graduate, but it’s quite difficult to make a real dent during residency.

After years of hard work, training, and little money, you will want to enjoy your earnings as an independent physician, but you must be smart with your finances. As we already discussed, a career advisor will be able to help you find the right position for your skills, experiences, and interests, and maybe even help you start your own business. But they will also be able to give this advice with your debt in mind. They may be better at gauging whether you need to wait and pay off some of your debt before making the risky decision to open a practice. Or they may help you assess what kind of a position will allow you to buy a home, start a family, and travel, all while paying off your debt.

This kind of advice is invaluable, as it will allow you to live your life to the fullest and plan your professional and personal future without worrying about your debt. 

Wondering who are the highest paid doctors? Check out our video below:

Career/Specialty Change

According to a Medscape survey, 77% of polled physicians state that they would choose medicine again given a career choice. Career change among physicians is rare, but it does happen. Among those who change their profession, burnout is the most common reason for this drastic decision. And just to make it clear, physicians do have quite a lot of options available to them if they no longer want to practice. A career advisor will be able to help you choose the option that is best for you. For example, if as a physician, you were craving more work/life balance, then maybe being an educator or a healthcare consultant would be a perfect career for you. These kinds of occupations are rarely full-time, so you can enjoy more time with family or with your favorite books.

On the other hand, if you are looking to spend less time with patients and are tired of working in a hospital, maybe you can join a research project to stimulate your intellectual curiosity. Or maybe you want to contribute to the medical field by being a writer, developing textbooks and other educational material. There are lots of possibilities, but you want to make the right choice. You do not want to be "no better off" after the exchange.

If you are a physician looking to simply change their specialty, then a career advisor will be able to help with this as well. Changing specialty is not an unheard-of phenomenon. Some physicians look for more opportunities in the medical field, some are still hoping for that evasive work/life balance, while some want to find more lucrative positions. Any of these reasons may be legitimate for seeking a new specialty.

Most likely, you will need to complete another residency training or training in a subspecialty you want to pursue. A career planner will help you every step of the way, including applications, interviews, and even further planning. 

Did you know that 77% of polled physicians would pick the same career path if they were given a choice?

Can a Physician Career Advisor Help Med School Grads Without Residency?

And if after 3-4 years of medical school you decide that being a physician is not for you, a career counselor can help you find your path. There is a lot of pressure for those graduating with MDs and DOs. Their family, friends, and even society as a whole expect them to pursue only one possible option: physicianship. It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that someone who went through the hurdles of medical school prerequisites, MCAT prep, and clinical rotations can simply give up on being a doctor. The truth is, the decision not to further pursue practicing medicine is very hard for those who make it, but they want to be honest with themselves. It is better, and cheaper, to change careers now, before pursuing residency and ending up as a miserable doctor. 

And just because you no longer want to be a practicing physician does not mean that you cannot put your MD to good use. There are dozens of great career options for those with MD without residency training. A career advisor can help you plan your next steps. Do you want to remain in healthcare? Well, then maybe you will enjoy being an ultrasound technician or a massage therapist? Or do you want to work in the public sector? Then maybe being a public health officer is a great option for you.

A career advisor will not only help you choose a path but advise you on how you can increase your chances of success and improve your financial situation, as you do still have some debt to pay off. For example, if you want to be a successful public official, and even run for office, maybe doing an additional degree, like an MBA or a JD will be beneficial. Or if you want to pursue research, maybe doing a graduate degree will help you join some of the coolest medical research projects out there. Whatever it is, your career advisor will be able to point you in the right direction. 

Conclusion: Should You Use Career Consulting?

If you are looking for some professional advice regarding your career, you are not alone. The bottom line is that many professionals turn to career consulting not only during difficult times but also as a source of information on how to grow their career or business. Why should physicians be any different? On the one hand, if you are an employed physician looking for more information to advance your career in your current institution, a consultant can provide you with invaluable advice on how to bolster your profile and get you that coveted promotion. On the other, if you are a private practice owner, a consultant can help you be a great businessman and manager.

If you are wondering where to find this sort of help, try checking out private services. While medical schools and residency training programs may have some similar services offered, you want to have the advisor’s undivided attention and personalized approach. There are private consultants who are specifically trained to provide professional advice to physicians. Their job is to go above and beyond your expectations – they will be able to attend to any of your needs and answer any of your questions. If ever in doubt, research these services online. See what their success rate is and what kind of reviews they have. A tell-tale sign is repeated clients. Usually, it means that the consultancy and its clients have a bond of trust and reliability. 


1. What is a physician career advisor?

A physician career advisor helps those in healthcare improve their professional life.

2. Do physicians need help with their careers?

Just like any other professionals, physicians look for career advancement, pay raises, job satisfaction, and more. Many physicians also look for better work/life balance. These are some of the reasons doctors also look for career counseling. 

3. What can an advisor help with?

They can help you plan your post-residency path, start your own business, improve chances of promotion, manage your debt, and so much more! Please read our article above for more information.

4. Can an advisor help me change my medical specialty?

Yes, they can. Not only will they help you make this decision, but they can also help with training applications and interviews.

5. Where can I find a career advisor?

Many medical schools and residency training programs offer some sort of counseling. However, you can also look at private physician career consultants. They usually have more time to focus on you specifically and can provide more tailored advice to help you with your career. 

6. What kind of physicians do they help?

Career consultants can help any type of physician, including physicians in any specialty, experienced physicians, and freshly trained doctors. 

7. Can a physician career advisor help me with a career change?

Yes, these professionals know the healthcare landscape and can help you find your path in healthcare and beyond. 

8. Can they help medical school graduates without residency training?

Absolutely. Depending on your interests, a career advisor will be able to help you map out your next move. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting 

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