Joel Greenwald, St. Louis Park, MN
After completing his residency from the University of Minnesota in 1990, Joel worked as a physician in internal medicine for ten years. However, bringing up three young children in a two-physician household—his wife is a radiation oncologist—proved difficult with the long and unpredictable hours of a doctor. Both the time and the money gave Joel pause: He and his wife wanted to be more available for their children, and he found that his job no longer fulfilled him as it had in the past.
At the age of 36, while still working as a physician, Joel enrolled in remote financial planning courses through The College for Financial Planning in Denver. He took his exams and at age 38 began working part-time as a certified financial planner. He made the transition to full-time at the age of 40, and now works for himself advising doctors and dentists with their financial planning—an obvious clientele for a former practicing doctor. “It’s my natural market,” he says. “It’s who I know.”
Joel credits the success of his career transition to his wife, who covered the financial burden while he established his own financial planning practice and wasn’t contributing to the household income. He remembers that when he made the move, his wife would joke, “What’s going on? I thought I married a doctor!” But now, they’re both happy with his career switch, which has given them the flexibility to be more present for their children. He’s grateful for the freedom to run his own business and keep his clients happy.
“I get to help people,” Joel explains. “It’s incredibly similar to being a physician; after health, finance is probably second most important.”
Nancy Berk, Pittsburgh, PA
If you ask Nancy about her job, she’ll tell you she’s a “stand-up psychologist.” After a decade working full-time as as a clinical psychology professor at the university level, she’s spent the last eight years as a stand-up comedian and humor writer. Her interest in medicine led her to her first career, but she had never considered that the humor she infused into her day-to-day life could be her second.
However, a career shift at 45 didn’t come without financial implications. Nancy took a pay cut; in fact, she says the financial risk was the most difficult part of the transition. “It was scary, knowing I was giving up a financially stable position to take a chance,” she remembers. Luckily, she and her husband, who is a physician, had been saving consistently and were able to soften the blow. Though the risk paid off, Nancy maintains that she is still “cautious in spending and religious about saving.”
She credits part of her ability to connect with her audience to her years examining and learning about the human mind. “It helps me blend psychology training and humor, which is a perfect combination for me,” she says. These days, she spends her days writing material from morning to night; her humor writing can be seen in The Huffington Post, USA Today, and other national publications. One of her books is featured in the upcoming film “Admission.”
For Nancy, “shifting gears,” as she puts it, has led her to an “emotionally, financially, and creatively profitable” career.