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Career & Healthcare Industry

The NFL and Physician Career Transitions

Published April 07, 2023

What do physician career changes and NFL players have in common? Well, if it has to do with one person in particular, everything. 


Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a former Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard who was with the team from 2014-2021. He’s been called the “most eclectic man in the NFL.” And, he happens to be a medical doctor. Duvernay-Tardif played college football at McGill University in Montreal, Canada - balancing his medical school studies with weekly practices. 


In 2014 he was drafted to the Kansas City Chiefs, signing a four year contract for $2.34 million. In 2015, he made his first career start and played in all of that season’s games. He continued playing and starting for the team and was part of the Chiefs’ 2019 Super Bowl win. Then, the pandemic hit. In 2020 Duvernay-Tardif announced that he made the personal decision to opt-out of the season. He returned to Canada to work in a long-term care facility. 


Duvernay-Tardif was traded to the Jets in 2021, and spent the off-season working on his medical residency in Montreal before returning to the football field. He said of the transition “Unfortunately, playing football isn’t like riding a bike. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s good to be back out there.” Duvernay-Tardiff isn’t the only physician who has played in the NFL (there are four others), but he is the only NFL player to concurrently work as a physician.


While professional football player to practicing physician and back to football player may not be the career transition most medical doctors are making, career transitions among physicians have largely increased since the beginning of the pandemic. CHG Healthcare surveyed over 500 physicians and found that between 2020 and 2022, 46% changed jobs, and 3% of that group transitioned to a non-clinical career.



39% of physicians who changed careers or jobs accepted a position in a different practice setting, 31% worked locum tenens assignments, and 10% moved to telehealth. When considering a career transition like this, it’s important to consider the financial implications.


Practice setting change


In 2020, less than 50% of physicians were in private practice, down from 54% in 2018.  According to the AMA, there are many contributing factors such as industry consolidation, practice closures, and younger physicians being drawn to different practice settings.  


Furthermore, certain specialties are seeing an increasing trend of consolidation. Many of these practice acquisitions are being led by private equity firms looking to create efficiencies and increased revenues in specialties such as dermatology and ophthalmology. If you’re considering selling your practice, the multiples you could receive may be enticing. However, practice owners should also assess how future decreases in compensation and loss of autonomy and independence may impact you and the other physicians in your practice. Forme Financial advisors can help physicians evaluate the pros and cons of selling your practice to determine what is best for you.


If you’re considering selling your practice, or a practice setting change like switching to a group or hospital-based practice, consult with an advisor to evaluate the pros and cons to determine what is best for you.


Locum tenens


For physicians looking for more freedom in their schedule or want to try out a certain setting before making a decision, locum tenens can be a good option. With temporary placements lasting weeks to months, you can choose your location, practice setting, and often - your schedule. Pay can sometimes be more than a local salaried position, depending on supply and demand. Working locum tenens is a good option for the independent, flexible physician who understands that while pay may be great at times, it may not be steady. Here are some financial considerations to think about while contemplating making a switch to locum tenens: 


  • Physicians working locum tenens will often be paid as an independent contractor, meaning job and travel related expenses can be written off.  


  • This practice setting usually doesn’t include benefit packages. It’s important to find the right insurance for you and your family, and the right retirement saving plan for you.


  • Malpractice insurance is sometimes offered by locum tenens agencies, so make sure to confirm that details. If it's not offered to you, you’ll be responsible for covering yourself. 


The flexibility and freedom that practicing locum tenens can offer is very appealing to some physicians. Just make sure you review financial matters like retirement accounts, and especially insurance. An Earned advisor can help you analyze insurance options to find the best policy for you.


Telehealth


Telehealth can be a full-time alternative, or a side hustle, depending on your career plans. Telemedicine providers often pay by the hour or per consult. Compensation can vary depending on which telemedicine provider you’re working with and the type of visit. 


Some companies offer compensation per consult or per hour.  The compensation per consult ranges quite a bit depending on the platform, the complexity and average length of the visit, expected volume, and the specialty of expertise.  Some companies give benefits while others do not. If you’re looking at telemedicine providers as an option for a career transition, here are some of the initial questions you should ask to make sure you’re keeping up with your own financial health:


  • What type of contract will it be? Will you work as an employee or independent contractor? 


  • Is malpractice insurance offered through the company, or should you look into it on your own?


  • What benefits are available?


Experts from the Earned team can help you review the benefits offered, insurance coverage, and your contract as you explore telehealth options.


While only 5 medical doctors in the history of the NFL have made the career transition between professional football player and practicing physician, a much larger percentage of physicians make the decision to change their practice setting. Whether that means working locum tenens, transitioning to telemedicine, or another change in practice, it’s crucial to weigh all your options and their financial implications as part of the decision process. Working with an advisor experienced in working specifically with physicians can be a very helpful tool as you consider these career shifts. 


Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is not a client of nor affiliated with Forme Financial, and it should not be assumed that he endorses Forme Financial in any manner whatsoever.

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