Breaking into Consulting as an MD with No Formal Experience

Bain & Company Boston Consulting Group consulting Healthcare MBB McKinsey & Company physician
New answer on Sep 25, 2022
4 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Jul 31, 2022

Hi All,

I am a current medical student in my final year of school and am strongly considering a switch to healthcare consulting. I have been doing extensive research and have had quite a few networking calls already with consultants at MBB firms plus some Tier 2 firms, so I feel like I have quite a good idea of what the career entails.

From my perspective, I have three main challenges that lie ahead:

1.  I come from non-target schools that have no recruiting presence. My MD school is a mid-to-low tier community program with little opportunities for connections or experiences in the consulting/biotech/startup realms. 

2.  No formal experience with business/consulting. 

3.  Although I have been contemplating a career in consulting for some time, I only recently decided to fully commit to the decision. Residency applications are due in 6 weeks (I was originally planning for a surgical specialty), so I need to decide if I should stay the course or pivot to a different specialty, or even no residency at all. This is currently my most pressing issue. 

I have good scores and good extracurriculars, but I am weary of my competitiveness due to my low brand school and lack of business experience. I have a few ideas for a plan going forward but wanted to get some thoughts from this community.

1.  I have been reaching out to venture funds for any sort of unpaid internship opportunities to assist with due diligence. I've noticed this to be a common experience among some of the MDs I have talked to who switched to consulting. Again, I have minimal connections coming from my school so these have all been cold applications. 

2. Switch from a surgical residency to something more generalized with more flexible hours (ex. internal medicine), which would allow me to continue pursuing opportunities. Plus, the added clinical experience and responsibility may make my application more competitive. I would also entertain the idea of forgoing residency, but most of the candidates I have seen who went straight from medical school to big firms came from prestigious schools. 

3. Attending business school at some point, whether during or after residency. I'm not sure about the practicality of this, considering the added loan burden and years of schooling. 

4. Applying to smaller firms now with hopes of getting an offer to start right after graduation, with the possibility of lateraling to a larger firm in the future.

I have received an abundance of information from my networking calls with varying advice about how to move forward. These were very positive conversations with most of them resulting in an offer for a referral, but I feel my resume is not competitive enough for an application yet. I appreciate any and all thoughts regarding my chances and how I should approach next steps. Thanks in advance. 


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Content Creator
replied on Jul 31, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Hopefully I can give you some insights, since I have a very similar background and situation and my sister is a doctor, so I kind of know them well. 

I totally get the “oh my God, where did I get?” feeling in your belly when you think about what you have ahead, and how you seem somehow “behind” everyone else. I am an Architect and also decided very abruptly that I would try consulting. However, let me tell you that you can make that same thing that now seems like a weakness, a huge strength! 

For my background, I have helped many “non-typical” profiles to get into consulting, feel free to PM! 

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Aug 01, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Trust me, you're not the only MD to try to switch! And, honestly, from what I've seen their success rates tend to be quite high!

Here are my main tips for you to succeed:

  1. Get consulting experience. Consider signing up for a part-time/pro bono program that puts you on projects
  2. Revise your resume - the key here is really working hard to make your experience bullet points more strategy/consulting
  3. Network extensively - get referrals
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replied on Aug 07, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | DISCOUNTED SESSIONS Sep 2022 | Free 15 min intro call


Many people apply with no formal experience in consulting, and consulting firms hire many MDs! My advice for you would be to network extensively (which it seems that you are doing already), since getting a referral is one of the best ways to boost your chances when applying if you are coming from a non-target school. Getting some business experience (ideally consulting) could also be a good idea - many companies offer internships with more flexible start dates. Finally, be sure to polish your resume, preferably getting some expert feedback on it.

Regarding starting a residency/business school/applying to smaller firms and transitioning laterally later, these are much less straightforward decisions and there are pros and cons to either side, so you should take some time to think about your personal preferences and risk tolerance.

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edward replied on Sep 25, 2022

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Content Creator
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut
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