Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

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dwade1109
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Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:36 pm

Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by dwade1109 »

Given that more and more people have been forced to work from home during the pandemic, what are general thoughts on working from home as a long-term lifestyle? Are people going crazy? Do you get used to it?

I am currently a practicing surgeon with a relatively busy academic practice with teaching and clinical care I enjoy (although the admin can be painful sometimes). During the shutdowns I was so grateful to have meaningful work to go into every day while I watched family and friends work from home.

That's why I might be a little crazy for thinking about this opportunity, but it is a unique one that has come across my desk. A headhunter for a large pharmaceutical company has reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in working in medical affairs for them full time. I have done minor consulting and advisory boards in the past, but this would be a full-time 9-5 job starting virtually for at least the first year. I am at a stage in my career that this is kind of a big fork in the road moment for me. I would appreciate any thoughts/recs from MDs or other folks on the board on how they would approach this decision:

Pros:
-Salary is comparable to what I make now as a surgeon, plus stock options (which could be financially very lucrative)
-Clinical practice has gotten a little stale and this may demand more creativity and a different skillset from me (in terms of communication and writing, both strengths of mine)
-Surgery has already started to take a toll on my body in my mid 30s. I have neck and back pain that I do extensive stretching/yoga for but the wear and tear is already building
-Reimbursements are falling and maybe 'betting' on medicine is not the pragmatic thing to do in 2020
-Working from home would allow me flexibility to help at home with family (my wife is a full time working physician, mom getting older, disabled younger sibling, future kids etc.)
-The job includes travel (post pandemic) which I am comfortable with and have used fruitfully in the past to work etc.

Cons:
-I would be giving up a pretty promising academic career from an education/mentorship/leadership standpoint
-My relationships with other companies would have to be put on hold
-No more surgery, maybe good investment for my body long-term but I do like the patient-doctor relationships and good outcomes we can get
-No job security-->no formal contract, reviewed on annual basis
-Working from home, is it going to drive me crazy? No way to know until you do it.
-Theoretically past the virtual first year they historically would want me to move to the company HQ in the NE (which I would not do). However, I am banking on their flexibility if I am productive enough in the first year virtually and I am willing to fly to HQ frequently they would let me continue virtually.
BionicBillWalsh
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by BionicBillWalsh »

With your spouse in medicine as well, a move into the new position may be seen as a diversifier for your family. From a purely lifestyle standpoint, the new job seems to offer a better quality of life although different than what you’re used to.

Moving from role of full time surgeon to corporate admin position seems to be a sea change. I suspect doing this earlier in your career than later will make the transition easier.

If the position makes financial and quality of life sense, seems to be a no-brainer. It’s not like you couldn’t return to clinical practice if you hate it.

Good luck!
Jerry Garcia: If I knew the way...I would take you home.
intendi
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by intendi »

I've been working from home for years (teleradiology) and I can tell you that while it's nice to be able to focus on work (no administrative duty or other distractions) it's nowhere near as meaningful as directly caring for patients, interacting with colleagues, and educating future physicians.

I would give the new gig a serious look. You may love it! You're still young enough to go back to your surgical practice if you find you miss the operating room.
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avenger
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by avenger »

Mid-career surgeon here.
I’d give it a solid consideration.
You can always go back to medicine after the first year if you don’t like it.
cheers ... -Mark | "Our life is frittered away with detail. Simplify. Simplify." -Henry David Thoreau | [VTI, VXUS, VWITX, SV fund]
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White Coat Investor
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by White Coat Investor »

dwade1109 wrote: Mon Dec 07, 2020 10:10 am Given that more and more people have been forced to work from home during the pandemic, what are general thoughts on working from home as a long-term lifestyle? Are people going crazy? Do you get used to it?

I am currently a practicing surgeon with a relatively busy academic practice with teaching and clinical care I enjoy (although the admin can be painful sometimes). During the shutdowns I was so grateful to have meaningful work to go into every day while I watched family and friends work from home.

That's why I might be a little crazy for thinking about this opportunity, but it is a unique one that has come across my desk. A headhunter for a large pharmaceutical company has reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in working in medical affairs for them full time. I have done minor consulting and advisory boards in the past, but this would be a full-time 9-5 job starting virtually for at least the first year. I am at a stage in my career that this is kind of a big fork in the road moment for me. I would appreciate any thoughts/recs from MDs or other folks on the board on how they would approach this decision:

Pros:
-Salary is comparable to what I make now as a surgeon, plus stock options (which could be financially very lucrative)
-Clinical practice has gotten a little stale and this may demand more creativity and a different skillset from me (in terms of communication and writing, both strengths of mine)
-Surgery has already started to take a toll on my body in my mid 30s. I have neck and back pain that I do extensive stretching/yoga for but the wear and tear is already building
-Reimbursements are falling and maybe 'betting' on medicine is not the pragmatic thing to do in 2020
-Working from home would allow me flexibility to help at home with family (my wife is a full time working physician, mom getting older, disabled younger sibling, future kids etc.)
-The job includes travel (post pandemic) which I am comfortable with and have used fruitfully in the past to work etc.

Cons:
-I would be giving up a pretty promising academic career from an education/mentorship/leadership standpoint
-My relationships with other companies would have to be put on hold
-No more surgery, maybe good investment for my body long-term but I do like the patient-doctor relationships and good outcomes we can get
-No job security-->no formal contract, reviewed on annual basis
-Working from home, is it going to drive me crazy? No way to know until you do it.
-Theoretically past the virtual first year they historically would want me to move to the company HQ in the NE (which I would not do). However, I am banking on their flexibility if I am productive enough in the first year virtually and I am willing to fly to HQ frequently they would let me continue virtually.
I work from home. It's great now that we renovated and each have a dedicated office (mine doubles as a recording studio) and a conference room. It was not as good when we did not have the space.

Personally, I think where you work from is far less important than other facts like whether you work for yourself or not or whether you do clinical work or this sort of thing. I'd quit worrying about the work from home aspect and focus on whether or not you're ready to quit operating etc.

If you have decided you're done with surgery, this sounds like a great option. If you haven't, it's a terrible option. Far better to find something part-time and slowly transition until you decide what you want to do with your life.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course
Topic Author
dwade1109
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Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:36 pm

Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by dwade1109 »

Thanks everyone for the super helpful feedback.

WCI is on point, not sure I want to give up surgery yet. My body is saying it's bad (neck/upper back/shoulders are telling me to stop), my heart and mind still love it. I can understand why injured professional athletes never retire when fans want them to retire.
Oreamnos
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by Oreamnos »

dwade1109 wrote: Mon Dec 07, 2020 10:10 am
Cons:
...
-Theoretically past the virtual first year they historically would want me to move to the company HQ in the NE (which I would not do). However, I am banking on their flexibility if I am productive enough in the first year virtually and I am willing to fly to HQ frequently they would let me continue virtually.

This would seem to be a pretty key assumption. I'd want that locked down in an agreement.
oldfort
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by oldfort »

dwade1109 wrote: Tue Dec 08, 2020 11:15 am Thanks everyone for the super helpful feedback.

WCI is on point, not sure I want to give up surgery yet. My body is saying it's bad (neck/upper back/shoulders are telling me to stop), my heart and mind still love it. I can understand why injured professional athletes never retire when fans want them to retire.
If you can honestly say you love your current job, this is a huge plus. I haven't met many people who would describe their jobs this way.
urodoc1
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by urodoc1 »

Dwade1109 - Just out of curiosity, what sort of things did you do or get into that led to this opportunity? Asking for a friend...
BruinBones
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by BruinBones »

I am not sure if any of the replies have come from fellow surgeons, but I am one.
My concerns are specifically two:
1. I'm not so sure that you can bank on their flexibility in rewarding your anticipated productivity with continued WFH after one year. Either get your desired WFH duration in writing or it should be a No-Go for you.
2. You are young in your surgery career, but any extended gaps in your clinical career may pose a red flag if you do desire to go back to practicing surgery after a non-clinical stint. And, there may no longer be any surgeon openings in your home city where your wife practices even if you are ready to go back.

My wife and I are also a dual physician couple, and my unsolicited advice based on experience is to do what is best for the family overall, which might be turning down some attractive offers for the individual.
Good luck!
veindoc
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by veindoc »

One, I’m a surgeon married to another surgeon. Two, I’m a subspecialist which may explain my view.

If you are genuinely curious about the opportunity I would go for it. You can always go back to surgery. Many people will state otherwise but it’s not true. And I am saying this from experience. I was employed my first year out of fellowship and then took a two year break to raise my kid. During that time I moonlighted as a surgical hospitalist. No operating. When I decided I wanted to give surgery a try again, I had no problem finding a job. An ex partner of mine was at a crossroads in his career. He wanted to get to the next level in administration but was denied every division head position he interviewed at. He accepted a position at Boston Scientific for two years and then went back to surgery. This time as a division head.

I don’t know how easy this is if you are a general surgeon or general urologist, but my experience is that if you are a fellowship trained surgeon, there will always be jobs.

Finally locums is an option to stay clinically active during this stint in your career if you still want to keep a toe in.
JPM
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Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by JPM »

Not a surgeon, just a community internist with 39 years of involvement in quality improvement projects in a handful of exurban community hospitals. My random thoughts follow;

The richest guys in my med school class and the richest guys among my colleagues from post-MD training days are guys who had long successful careers in industry. That may be all you need to know from me. But may not be wise to rely on the corporate people to cut you special breaks one year out of the gate.

Every doctor has to figure out the balance between medicine as a mission and medicine as a business in her/his career and the appropriate balance between professional and personal life. Once you decide that, deciding what kind of work you want to do and what kind of people you want to work with gets clearer. Then you seek that type of opportunity.

The lot of an academic physician looks to me like a tough one. Few can be a highly capable clinician, productive researcher, effective teacher, and competent administrator of a service, section, or department. And unless you become a service chief where you receive a cut of the grant and clinical production of your juniors, the financial rewards are paltry compared to successful careers in clinical practice or industry, especially so considering the demands on your time from administrative and regulatory nonsense.

Most surgeons I have worked with in practice have retired more or less involuntarily due to medical issues, especially neurodegenerative or degenerative musculoskeletal disorders. A couple have lost visual acuity necessary to perform surgery. Few retire when healthy and rich. If your own health issues are already negatively impacting your surgical practice, a professional setting that allows you the time and energy to maintain your health is crucial.

It's probably true that if you give up surgery and don't like industry, you can always go back to surgery. But it's not necessarily going to be easy. The hard-won degree of surgical skill may be difficult or impossible to recover. I have only known one guy to do it and it didn't go well for him or his patients. A promising early career melted away.

In community practice we don't put surgeons on staff who haven't been operating for two years without a supervised refresher at a training hospital that will attest to current surgical skill and judgement.
Topic Author
dwade1109
Posts: 164
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:36 pm

Re: Working From Home (Physician Working in Industry versus Practicing)

Post by dwade1109 »

Thanks to everyone for the super helpful responses.

As follow-up I looked into the job and did a virtual interview that went quite well. However, after discussion with my SO we cannot take the chance of being forced to move in a year so have not pursued any further. Package and benefits were decent and interesting thought exercise for now.

Someone asked how they found me: they cold
Emailed me on LinkedIn. Not sure why they picked me as my profile does not indicate any industry experience.
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