Every medical student has their own personal reason for becoming a physician. Driven by passion and a desire to make a positive impact on the world, it’s a choice made whole-heartedly, a pledge of devotion to the mission and practice.
That same drive can make the path to becoming a physician seem, in a sense, straight-forward. Medical school is an all-encompassing, all-consuming endeavor that requires a particular kind of focus and perseverance. It can be difficult to keep from being one-track minded; the thought of veering off-path could feel like a mistake.
But the horizons are wide for medical students and are only continuing to expand. Careers in which you can apply your knowledge and skills creatively, outside of the clinic, are popular alternatives for those who think outside of the box. The key is to find those opportunities in unexpected places.
Changing course in med school
Chase DiMarco, M4 at Saint James School of Medicine, kicked off his studies propelled by a sentiment shared by many medical students: “...[T]here are many reasons someone joins medicine, and the reasons are usually more dynamic than we are aware of. I began studying medicine for a combination of challenging life experiences, humanitarian aims, and a little bit of a problem with authority.”
Yet as he became more entrenched in his routine and began to face the all-too-common challenges that medical school presents, he found himself slightly veering from the traditional white-coat M.D. vision, and he began considering other career routes. What was the turning point? The trial and error and costs involved in the search for the “best” study resources.
“I noticed my first semester that there were numerous online resources. However, it did take some time to weed out the good ones for each discipline, find which had tests available, and determine the level of completeness for each. You can spend hundreds to thousands on a video review series, but cost was also a concern for myself and many of my fellow students.”
A new opportunity revealed itself. Chase began compiling his preferred resources on his own and emailing these lists to the rest of his class. This lead to the entrepreneurial leap that was FreeMedEd.org, a platform where students can find a curated collection of high-quality resources (including AMBOSS!), as well as study materials and courses created by Chase himself. His philosophy “was always to concentrate on decreasing expenses for overburdened medical students. Our future content aims to fill in these gaps, as well as use interactive videos, gamification, and other techniques learned through my Educational Psychology degree and outside studies.”
Making the transition from clinical-physician to entrepreneur-physician wasn’t the easiest move: “Initially, it was frightening to consider anything other than clinical training. Now, I simply hope to do the best that I can and reach others in a positive manner. Hopefully, there will be a balance between clinical and non-clinical exploration.” But, FME has been successful, and lots of new developments are coming up. The Medical Mnemonist Podcast has just launched, set to feature trainings, hacks and interviews with medical education influencers and leaders, and their first online course, Medical Microbiology: Bacteriology, was released mid-November
“The hope is that FME becomes not only a creative platform for new manners to implement education, technology, and psychology but also to form a community.”
Exploring careers outside of the clinic
Does Chase’s situation ring true for you? Medicine is a rich and varied field, and you could find an attractive, alternative opportunity at any point in your career. Whether you’re a student or resident, you may find your true calling actually lies in education, public service and government, communications, journalism, tech, pharmaceuticals or consulting—you might even find yourself working for AMBOSS one day. Keep your eyes open and follow your curiosity and you may just find a better career fit off the beaten track.