‘Tired of death’ – why physicians switch sectors

I’ve spent the last 10 years recruiting experienced physicians for pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide, and have interviewed hundreds of MDs looking to move into the life sciences sector. When I ask candidates about their motivations for a career move, I normally get a well-rehearsed and relatively mundane answer, with a standard mix of push factors (why candidates are looking to leave their current roles) and pull factors (what attracts candidates into their new role).

There are however some notable exceptions to this. One of my most memorable push factor reasons came from a clinical oncologist in the US looking to join the biotech sector because he was “tired of death”.

He went on to explain that after 20 years of working in a clinic, striking deep personal relationships with patients with difficult to treat, aggressive forms of cancer, he had become exhausted. So difficult and frustrating was the experience that it had driven him to want to move from an established career, with a focus on the extension of life and palliative care, to join the biotech sector, in order to help develop the next generation of oncology drugs and hope to one day contribute to curing cancer.

My most remarkable pull factor motivation came from an experienced drug discovery expert saying that every morning she woke up “thinking that today could be the day I find the cure for HIV”. What a great way to start the day!

I wonder if this resonates with other physicians and what other motivating factors they might have to move industry or progress their careers. Let me know what you think below.