Non-Clinical Jobs vs. Careers

OCTOBER 19, 2017
Heidi Moawad
Job, Career, non-clinical, medicalWhen physicians look to transition to non-clinical jobs, it's important to think about whether this transition is focused on a job or a career. The search process and the type of job you accept will differ depending on whether your overall objective is to get a job quickly or to set the stage for an enduring non-clinical career. 

Non-clinical Jobs for Doctors 
There are a number of non-clinical jobs for doctors. The most popular include chart review, medical legal consulting and disability exams. These jobs, which generally offer generous hourly or per project reimbursement, are often supplements to clinical practice. They typically offer a flexible and moderate workload, and most physicians work on these types of projects on a part time basis. It's possible to find a high enough volume of work to leave clinical practice, although that may entail working for several companies to build a full-time workload and salary. 

Non-clinical Careers for Doctors 
Non-clinical careers are a bit different than non-clinical jobs. This generally means working full time in areas such as pharmaceutical strategy, research and development, medical education leadership, or as a health system or insurance executive. There are also positions in medical writing and media, which are less common and more difficult to break into. These full-time positions usually offer a career trajectory, with opportunities to play a role within the industry and an anticipated increase in responsibility over the years. In general, such positions that offer career advancement are more difficult to obtain than the part time or project based non-clinical jobs. And, because they are typically full time, a non-clinical career is a choice that requires a more serious commitment in terms of leaving clinical practice. Of course, as with everything, there are exceptions. While most doctors who take leadership roles within a company need to leave clinical practice, few are indeed able to combine a full time leadership role in the healthcare industry with clinical practice, but that situation is not typical. 

Can You Turn a Non-clinical Job Into a Career? 
Most chart review and medical legal work is not structured for growth in responsibility and leadership within the industry, but that does not mean the transition from part-time chart reviewer to full-time executive is impossible. Doctors who want to move to full-time positions through the part time or project-based path can do so, but this requires networking and a strategic approach. Generally, those who move up the ranks from hourly consulting to directorial roles do so by building trust, strong connections, taking on additional responsibilities, regularly meeting leadership in person, and making long term goals known. 

Wait or Jump Right in?
While looking for a non-clinical career, it's worthwhile to think carefully about whether a non-clinical job is a good investment of your time. Sometimes the enticing hourly reimbursement of non-clinical jobs may provide a good short-term reward, but may also consume your time preventing you from searching for the non-clinical career you are looking for. On the other hand, a financially rewarding non-clinical gig can allow you to enjoy perks without taking on a substantial commitment that requires you to leave patient care. Considering the difference between these routes is an important first step that physicians must take in searching for a career transition.

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