This article was written by Danielle Kalberer, OD, FAAO, and has been vetted by the CovalentCareers team for inclusion in our resource library.
Introduction: Non-Clinical Jobs are Out There.
If you are a healthcare provider who has made the decision to leave patient-care, you are likely exploring other options. You might find yourself pondering if there are non-clinical jobs where you can leverage your healthcare experience. The ideal opportunity will allow you to utilize your medical training while highlighting other strengths and skills you possess.
The following list provides 15 different paths for consideration. Each route puts healthcare knowledge and clinical skills to excellent use in a unique and non-clinical way.
1. Teaching in an Academic Setting
Most healthcare professionals develop high-level communication skills during training and patient care. With extensive experience explaining medical information clearly and concisely to patients, care providers inadvertently become teachers.
Though you may be an expert in your given field, you are not limited to teaching within professional schools. Consider teaching healthcare topics, or even basic sciences at a college or university. Depending on your background, healthcare business management or administration topics may be relevant as well. One pitfall to pursuing this area is a lack of full-time employment opportunities. Professional schools generally require a mix of clinical and didactic requirements. (1)
- Accompanying Degree Required: Masters in teaching or professional doctorate
2. Leading Continuing Education
If you prefer to educate other professionals, enjoy public speaking and are passionate about advancing your profession, consider teaching continuing education (CE) programs. Most health professions require CE credits for licensure and there are multiple fronts from which you can become involved.
Courses can be written in professional publications, published online or given as live lectures. National professional meetings are a hub for CE and would be a great place to take advantage of lecture opportunities; this may lend itself to your lifestyle especially if you enjoy traveling. Some pharmaceutical companies sponsor programs with content related to their products as well.
Each health profession and each state has different CE requirements. Research the professional credentialing board to obtain the respective guidelines. (1) CE programs are usually paid on a per-diem basis.
- Accompanying Degree Required: None
3. Advocating Public Health
This entails improving public awareness of medical conditions and access to healthcare on a global scale.
The most well known organizations for public health are the Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute of Health (NIH) and World Health Organization (WHO). Organizations such as the American Cancer Society and American Red Cross work to promote preventative medicine. Other companies, like the Food and Drug Administration, provide quality control for medications and medical devices and improve health-care standards. (2,3) There are also opportunities as coordinators for non-profit organizations providing medical mission trips to underserved regions of the world.
- Accompanying Degree Required: Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH)
4. Government Policy and Law
Government plays a significant role in how healthcare providers practice. Medical professionals, who have increased awareness of current issues requiring attention, are a valuable resource for lawmakers.
Working for professional advocacy groups to lobby for healthcare laws and legislation is crucial to advancing any profession. Former health professionals can also go on to work in government positions and be involved in government funded health care programs. (2) There are also programs, such as MD/JD, which allow for the combined practice of medicine and law. Healthcare lawyers can work for providers or hospitals, on healthcare contracts, patent law, healthcare legislation or medical licensing committees.
- Accompanying Degree Required: Juris Doctor (JD)
5. Medical Writing
As biomedical research increases, so too does the number of professional publications and amount web content available. Medical publications appealing to a broad range of audiences, from research scientists to the general public, are in demand.
Versatility is a vital quality for a medical writer in order to alter the level of material complexity for the target audience. On the more technical end of the spectrum are authors for textbooks, scientific manuals, manuscripts and protocol guides. Authors can also be involved in preparing research grants, writing or editing research papers. If covering medical news or discoveries, the target audience may be a bit different. Concepts need to be simplified for patients, consumers or the general public. Being able to provide lucid and basic explanations of complex topics for an audience without medical expertise is a talent in and of itself.
Many medical writing positions are on a per assignment or per diem basis.
- Accompanying Degree Required: Degree in English, writing, or journalism helpful but not imperative. (4)
6. Pharmaceutical Industry
There are two routes through which providers can participate to this field-product development and provider education/marketing. For development of new medications and medical devices, physicians are needed to organize and participate in trials to determine safety and efficacy. Once a product is developed, a plan to educate providers and market it to the target demographic needs to be composed and executed.
This can overlap with providing continuing education lectures and medical writing as companies sponsor such to promote products. (1)
- Accompanying Degree Required: Relevant Master’s or Doctorate (biology, chemistry, biotechnology, pharmacology) and clinical research experience only if interested in research component. Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) if interested in marketing aspect. (5)
7. Medical Insurance Consulting
Providers can assist in assuring accuracy and efficiency of claims, contracts and payments working for either party. On the insurance side, doctors and other providers have a role in approving pre-authorizations for patient procedures and reviewing claims for accuracy.
There are also positions at groups or hospitals to review guidelines for managed care contracts, review compliance across departments ensuring proper documentation and testing protocols. (6)
- Accompanying Degree Required: None
8. Healthcare Administration
Working in healthcare administration allows you to make a large impact on quality of care by bridging gaps between administration and staff. This is a good fit for healthcare professionals because they have an interest in advocating for both parties- better outcomes for patients and improved working conditions for providers. (1)
Positions such as clinical directors, compliance officers or program directors all work to ensure the organization meets its goals for the business, the staff and the patients. (6)
- Accompanying Degree Required: Master’s or Doctorate in Healthcare Administration
9. Practice Management Consulting
Healthcare providers are generally innate problem solvers. This lends itself to working with offices or organizations to improve management protocols and implement programs that increase efficiency and profitability. This type of consulting is in demand within the care, pharmaceutical, biotech and manufacturing arenas. (2)
Especially if you have private practice experience or worked in a high level corporate position this type of job could be a natural transition for you.
- Accompanying Degree Required: relevant Bachelor’s degree (finance, business administration, accounting) or MBA
10. Information Technology
With recent managed care requirements and trends toward electronic health records (EHR), newer systems are being generated and older systems are being updated. It is imperative that the technology is practical and properly organizes medical data. Each specialty and allied-health field has different needs in a record system. Who better to evaluate and streamline these systems for viability than the providers themselves?
Practitioners can work for an EHR company as developers or as liaisons between the company and the practices. This may entail training other providers on the system and troubleshooting during integration. (1) To work in this area you need a computer informatics background or interest in coding. (2) Having work experience in the area makes you more capable of understanding the logistical needs of the user within the system. (6)
- Accompanying Degree Required: Bachelor’s in computer science, technology, biotechnology helpful but not imperative if you are technologically savvy
Telehealth uses technology to improve efficiency and accessibility of medical care. Physicians and other professionals remotely review information for an organization or hospital and sometimes even communicate with patients. Providers can also have a role in creating teleheath devices or software for improved home-monitoring and patient communication. (1,7)
- Accompanying Degree Required: None
12. Healthcare Recruiting
If you are personable, have an extensive contact network and enjoy helping others succeed you should consider a recruiting job. (1) Becoming a matchmaker for employers and potential employees, you can help fill placements in hospitals, private practices or research positions.
You need to have excellent communication and listening skills in order to facilitate good matches. You can do this type of work remotely since most communications take place over the phone. The hours are usually outside the typical work hours because that is when employers and potential employees will have availability to communicate. A certain level of resilience after rejection is necessary; this is not a job where every effort will land a successful match but persistence and understanding the needs of others will lead to great success. (8)
- Accompanying Degree Required: None
13. Becoming an Entrepreneur
Maybe you have encountered or designed a device or product that you feel will improve care. Or maybe, you feel there is a better and more efficient way to provide care within your field. If you are able to develop the solution to a common clinical problem, you could have a huge impact for colleagues and patients.
If you have an idea that you passionate about seeing brought to fruition, investing in the retail or manufacturing of a product can be risky but rewarding. Having a good understanding of the technology and finances involved would make you the best person to pitch the idea to gain investors. (6) Financial background, experience with medical technology and ability to perform market research are necessities.
- Accompanying Degree Required: Relevant Bachelor’s degree (finance, business administration, accounting) or MBA beneficial
14. Marketing and Advertising
We may hesitate to admit it, but healthcare is a business and in order to flourish it needs customers. This step of the process may be a good fit if you enjoy advertising, have a knack for web design or social media platforms and have a good understanding of public needs and what the company has to offer. This can also entail community outreach and public relations positions. (9)
- Accompanying Degree Required: Bachelor’s in marketing, communications, or MBA. They're not absolutely crucial, but recommended.
Positions for large health organizations in risk management or financial analysis require formal finance or accounting training along with a thorough understanding of healthcare procedures. Analysts can monitor trends in medical costs, profit and loss statements, and organizational budgeting. (1)
Investing in venture capitalism opportunities related to the biomedical field can be of interest to medical professionals.
- Accompanying Degree Required: relevant Bachelor’s degree (finance, business administration, accounting) or MBA.
Before Making Your Decision
While many of us have undergone similar professional training as our healthcare colleagues, every one of us has unique qualifications beyond that degree.
Consider your own strengths, interests and values when making this career decision in order to be successful in your pursuits.
1. Page, Leigh. “I’ve Had It With Medicine! 16 Options for Second Careers.” Medscape. http://Medscape.com July 10, 2014.
2. “Alternative Careers.” Association of American Medical Colleges. http://aamc.org 2015.
3. Shaywitz, David. “Career Options For Doctors: It’s About Opportunity, Not Disillusionment.” Forbes: Pharma & Healthcare. http://forbes.com July 22, 2015.
4. Sharma, Suhasini.“How to Become a Competent Medical Writer” Perspectives in Clinical Research. Jan-March 2010 pp. 33-37.
5. Da Costa, Christopher.“From Physician Practice to Pharmaceutical Industry Career.” RX Econsult. http://rxeconsult.com. Feb 13,2013.
6. Moawad, Heidi. “The Best Non-Clinical Jobs for Doctors.” MD Magazine. http://mdmag.com. October 26, 2016.
7. Fry, Erika. “Doctors work on ‘Webside Manner’ as Telemedicine Becomes More Popular.” Fortune. http://www.fortune.com. Nov 2016.
8. “Could I Be a Healthcare Recruiter?” Core Medical Group. http://coremedicalgroup.com. September 2017.
9. “Marketing Degrees and Programs: What You’ll Study. All Business Schools http://allbusinessschools.com. 2017.