Strategically Invest Your Time

Another way to increase the amount of good you do, is to be strategic in how you spend/invest your time and your career potential. This can involve volunteer work and/or maximizing your positive impact through the career you chose to pursue. The group, 80,000 Hours, is an organization dedicated to helping people use their careers to address the world's most pressing problems. We highly recommend spending some time on their website and checking out the links below.

Careers in Medicine Panelists Discussion (March 24, 2021)

Below are some general ideas/insights, from the 80,000 Hours group, that the EA Medicine network has tailored specifically for those those in medicine/healthcare. Please note that your career choices/potential are highly dependent on your unique skills, position, and fit.

Impactful things that you can do as a healthcare member:

1) Donate a portion of your income:

  • In general, healthcare professionals are high earning. Donating to effective and evidence backed charities is one of the most impactful things you can do.

    • Earning to give, is a particular strategy where one tries to maximize the amount of money they earn and therefore the amount they can donate. If you are a physician and want to pursue this option, there are several ways to increase your earnings as a doctor.

2) Specialize in high impact areas:

  • Try to create your medical expertise in fields that are large in scale, solvable, and neglected - all 3 if possible.

  • This 80,000 hours article is a good place to start if trying to think about this. Within the article, the topic of global catastrophic biological risks (BCBRs) is mentioned and contain some areas that lends itself well to a medical background (biologic catastrophes, pandemic preparedness).

  • Advocacy is another impactful career pathway that can be done while maintaining a career in medicine. In the United States of America, for example, physician advocacy is becoming more common. Often healthcare members work at the intersection between health and societal issues at large, and can leverage this position to voice change.

  • Public health and public policy: People with a clinical background have a premium in public health or policy roles, which can be forum for considerable impact.

  • Biomedical research. Applying a medical degree to an area of bioscience can be extremely valuable and impactful.

  • For additional ideas, connect with and join the EA-Medicine network to see what others are doing.

  • By working on promoting EA, thereby helping other avoid ineffective ways of helping others and instead implementing much more effective strategies, you can multiple you impact several-fold. This could be a good option if you are not in a position to leave or make significant career changes, but have the bandwidth to grow the EA community.

4) Consider Careers Outside of Medicine

  • For some people, a career in medicine might not be right for you; especially if your number one priority it to maximize your impact. It seems quite likely that in many situations, an individual's clinical practice has a modest impact.

  • If you are already in medicine, it can be difficult to leave the field for various reasons including sunken costs, debt, etc. Keep in mind that the earlier that you make a decision to increase your impact the larger your cumulative effect will be, and numerous people in the EA community switched out of medicine/healthcare, and numerous are still working in these fields successfully. Again, personal fit and your individual situation is a big consideration, and be sure to explore the 80,000 website and this article when evaluating your incremental career changes.


Still have questions:

  • Feel free to contact us, and join the EA-Med network, so we can provide some guidance, and try to put you in touch with other EA members in similar situations.