According to Oxford dictionary, a doctor is someone who is qualified to treat people who are ill. Many doctors also want to learn how they can use their medical degrees to launch into non-clinical jobs. There are a variety of interesting and rewarding jobs that doctors can transition into with great success. Some of the most common non-clinical jobs for physicians are listed below.
Medical care is constantly becoming more complex. Traditionally, medical laboratory researchers were often practicing physicians who also ran basic science research laboratories to study and develop new cures for the patients they cared for in the clinic or hospital. The discovery of many vaccines and surgical techniques were the work of physicians. As requirements and policies for both research and clinical work have become more rigorous, it has become increasingly difficult for physicians to be able to balance the regulatory demands of both clinical work and research protocols. Therefore, many physicians chose to become full time scientific medical investigators, often studying the untreatable diseases that they saw their patients suffering from during medical school training or clinical practice.
Most health care providers in current times find themselves spending more and more time interacting with payers, regulators, and administrators. This often triggers physicians to transition into regulatory positions in insurance companies, government administration, or hospital directorship positions. Doctors who use their experience to shift into such supervisory positions are often found to be particularly well suited to foster a sense of cooperation and camaraderie among medical and corporate coworkers.
Some physicians chose to take opportunities in medical device manufacturing, marketing, business, and implementation. Unlike basic science research, this involves more of a liaison role, involving taking new technology to market, or making new devices and pharmaceuticals practical for the population.
Often, doctors enjoy teaching, and therefore want to venture into education. This most often includes medical school administration, curriculum development, or teaching. A number of these jobs begin as volunteer roles, which can develop into full time positions.
Few doctors take less traditional paths, developing new courses, writing textbooks, or teaching the public with talks, seminars, and books related to general health and well being. There are many popular and well-known doctors who have taken this route.
A very competitive option for few physicians is health policy. There are a variety of ways to pursue this goal. Physicians can run for public office or work on becoming appointed to political positions. There are also a number of behind the scenes alternatives as well.
A common arena, both on a local and a global scale, is public health. Physicians can work in local public health positions, with opportunities in state, city and county. Doctors who hold such jobs often develop public health guidelines, such as vaccinations and pre-natal testing standards. On a global scale, physicians increasingly travel to volunteer in medical missions. But there are full time paid positions for doctors who want to devote their careers to global health.
The greatest diversity in non-clinical jobs for doctors lies in medical business. I have spoken to numerous doctors who run their own businesses, and no two stories are the same. Options range from medical laboratories and imaging facilities to technical medical writing companies to medispa owner or medical tourism facilitator.
The most common non-medical job for physicians appears to be in the arts. Often physicians paint, write fiction, or pursue music or photography. This has typically been a transition made at a stage of financial security, but occasionally there are stories of physicians who decide to dive into the arts wholeheartedly.
This is becoming a relatively common alternative for doctors. Given that physicians are generally conservative and careful, many doctors I have spoken to feel that this option is quite realistic.
About the Author
Heidi Moawad, MD is author of Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine, a resource for health care professionals who are looking for career alternatives.
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