The Drop Out Club: Want to leave medicine? You're not alone.

By Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN | Fact-checked by Barbara Bekiesz
Published July 12, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • One out of every 5 doctors plans to leave medicine within the next 2 years, according to a recent American Medical Association study.

  • Clinicians cite multiple reasons, including burnout, fear of contracting COVID, unrealistic and unmanageable workloads, and anxiety and depression resulting from the pandemic.

  • The Drop Out Club, along with sites like Facebook, provide forums for clinicians to commiserate and connect with potential employers in their quest to find relevant work that doesn't involve patient care.

If you've been in medicine any length of time, you're probably familiar with some of these sentiments: I’m considering not doing a residency. Burnt-out surgeon looking for a career advisor. My job is crushing my passion. Help!

According to a 2022 study by the Mayo Clinic, 38.2% of physicians demonstrated at least one symptom of burnout in 2020.[] Compared with other working US adults, physicians were also more likely to be dissatisfied with work-life integration. 

Enter organizations like the Drop Out Club—now just called DOC. The sentiments listed above are only a small sampling of the types of complaints, concerns, and pleas for advice one can see on the organization's website.[] Started in 1999 by six former medical school classmates from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, the DOC connects physicians to others who have made the exit from clinical practice.[]And there are other similar sites, too.

Today, the Drop Out Club website boasts over 67,000 members from 171 countries who are looking for jobs away from traditional bedside roles. 

Leaving clinical practice

Physicians quitting medicine continues to be a growing trend within the healthcare community. A recent American Medical Association study using information from more than 20,000 physicians shows just how bad the problem is.[] Within the next 2 years, 1 out of every 5 doctors plans to leave their current practice. Additionally, almost one-third plan to reduce their working hours. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors have pointed to multiple variables driving them to leave medicine: burnout, fear of infection, unrealistic and unmanageable workloads, and anxiety and depression resulting from the pandemic. Other issues like COVID misinformation and denial may exacerbate these problems, leading to increased interest in jobs that do not involve any patient care.

Where nonclinical job hunters connect

Since its inception, the Drop Out Club has helped doctors find other opportunities that utilize their knowledge and skill set but don’t involve any provider-patient interactions. The first job listings appeared on the site in 2009, and since then, thousands of businesses, such as law firms, hedge funds, and biotech companies, have connected with talented employees looking for a change. 

Drop Out Club membership is free, but it is required to job hunt and post comments to the member forum.

The site also provides free career resources, such as interview preparation, along with links to networking groups, news articles, and interest pieces relevant to making a healthcare career change.

Regional and international chapters provide the opportunity for members to connect with others at in-person events.

Besides DOC, there are several Facebook groups for doctors seeking to switch to nonclinical careers—Physician Nonclinical Career HuntersPMG Physicians and Non-Clinical Careers, and Physician Side Gigs, to name a few. Other career websites like,, and LinkedIn offer advice for those seeking to leave the healthcare industry.

Leaving healthcare is not an easy decision, but it is the right choice for many doctors and other healthcare providers. Recruiting sites like the Drop Out Club and others help connect physicians with other opportunities matching their unique skill set and talents.

What this means for you

You might be considering leaving medicine, and you are not alone. Connecting with other doctors seeking to do the same, through websites such as the Drop Out Club, and social media sites, can be key for helping you address your concerns and find other jobs away from the bedside.

Read Next: Real Talk: When you're thinking of quitting medicine
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