Interview with Dr. Gretchen Green

In today's podcast, Dr. Gretchen Green returns to explain how to be the best expert witness consultant you can be.

Gretchen has appeared on the podcast before, on Episode 163 in October 2020. She discussed why this is such an exciting side business, and how to get started. She also introduced the new Expert Witness Startup School that she had created.

Dr. Green will soon begin her sixth release of her program, which teaches doctors exactly how to design, deliver, charge for, promote, and grow an expert witness consulting business. And she has improved the training with each new release.

Gretchen is a diagnostic radiologist. She earned her medical degree at Brown University Medical School. She subsequently finished a diagnostic radiology residency at Yale University School of Medicine and a fellowship in women's imaging at Harvard Medical School.

Gretchen started working as an expert witness in 2015 and has already worked on well over 100 cases. Doing so enabled her to switch to part-time clinical employment in 2016. Doing that provided more time for her family and financial independence. 

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Getting Started

Gretchen's journey started when her attorney praised her performance when she was sued early in her career. After the lawsuit was over, Gretchen decided to offer her services as an expert witness. It stoked her enthusiasm for critical thinking, and she began working as an expert witness in 2016.

According to Gretchen, the fact that physicians have years of education, training, and clinical experience is what qualifies them as experts. Learning what attorneys need, and how to efficiently review cases, prepare documents, and bill and collect for services are the additional skills needed to get started.

Becoming the Best Expert Witness

Dr. Green developed her first course over two years ago. She is preparing to present the sixth version, with new content based on what she has learned working on well over 100 cases to date. One of her goals in the course is to make her students the best expert witness for their clients.

A course like this provides the framework to know how to communicate with lawyers, how to review cases to complete the work, and ultimately how to approach this as a business. And this is an ideal way to generate extra revenue, allowing physicians to reduce practice hours and improve flexibility and control over their lives.

Dr. Gretchen Green's Advice on Independence and Freedom

…when you take action, when you just get started in something that's new, there's no telling what the tangible and intangible benefits are from it. This may be the thing that re-energizes your clinical career… and it's when you take steps to do some different things… The benefits are really just for yours in the taking…


Expert witness consulting is an ideal side business for practicing physicians. Because the hourly income is so much higher than that of clinical practice, physicians can work fewer hours, earn more income, and free up personal time for family and other interests. Gretchen has taken her experience with over 100 clients to help you become the best expert witness consultant possible.

You can learn more and enroll in the Expert Witness Startup School by clicking here. By using this link, should you enroll, you will also be invited to join one of the Nonclinical Physicians' Monthly Masterminds, where you will be challenged and held accountable as you build your new consulting business.

[Note: the above is an affiliate link, so I will receive a marketing fee if you purchase using it, but the pricing is exactly the same, and you get MY BONUS ONLY if you use this link.]

This enrollment period ENDS on August 29, 2022, at midnight.


NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode.

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Transcription PNC Podcast Episode 262

How to Be the Best Expert Witness Consultant - Interview with Dr. Gretchen Green

John: About five years ago, I started my podcast and at the time it didn't seem like there were many resources for physicians who were looking to transition either part-time to a side gig or full-time out of clinical medicine and do something they could build on their background, but things have certainly changed. And I was talking to a colleague of mine back then. Well, this was really about three years ago saying we need to get a bunch of physicians who are experts in different areas to create resources like coaching programs and courses to teach them how to do some of these nonclinical activities.

And then about two years ago in 2020, I had the pleasure of interviewing on this podcast, Dr. Gretchen Green, because she had a fantastic program for teaching physicians how to do expert witness consulting, which is a really bonafide excellent side gig that allows you to maybe cut back on your clinical hours and do something on the side, have less call perhaps, and earn some income. So, we're going to talk about all those things today. We did, again, talk to her two years ago. We're not going to repeat everything we did then. So, first let me welcome Dr. Gretchen Green. Thanks for being here today.

Dr. Gretchen Green: Thanks so much for having me back.

John: Yeah, I needed to, because things have changed. We've gone through a pandemic and I can't believe that you're going to be opening the sixth iteration of your expert witness startup school soon. It has opened probably by the time this has been released. So, I guess I got to keep that in mind. So, thanks for coming.

Dr. Gretchen Green: Yeah. It's great to have this opportunity, especially with so much rapid change during this time. We've got more to talk about and how expert witness work has continued to evolve in what has really been a very traditional field. The law field tends to be very traditional and very stable and very stuck in their ways. And yet even lawyers have shown great abilities to evolve just as we have in medicine.

John: Absolutely. Now give us a little background about how you got into this. We talked about it last time, but there are a lot of new listeners here. So, how is it that you became involved in expert witness consulting and then what prompted you to create the course?

Dr. Gretchen Green: Yeah, that's interesting. You and I had a very similar timeframe about five years ago now. It was in a major pivot point in our lives. I had been in private practice in a large radiology group in North Carolina as a partner for 10 years. And the time value, money, life quality equation was due to change. And so, I made a leap.

I had been sued actually very early in my career. And as part of that, my defense attorney said I did such a great job with my own case that I should consider being an expert witness after the conclusion of the case. And I really thought about it. I thought about how it fueled my fire for critical thinking, really energized a lot of my continued knowledge gathering as a radiologist, and it was a great fit. So, I couldn't do that as part of my previous job. And so, as part of other reasons, I then left and struck out on my own, took a part-time position, started doing expert witness work, really intently 2016 going into 2017.

John: And then somehow people were asking you to tell them what it was like and how to prepare. What was it that got you into the courses?

Dr. Gretchen Green: Yeah. And if you had asked me five years ago, what would I do as an entrepreneur after that point? I could never have predicted the different paths. Initially actually there was a middle point where I got into investing in real estate because I was looking for a way to leverage this side gig income, which three to four hours a week, you can make a $100,000 a year as an expert witness, but then it's very painful paying the highest marginal rate on those taxes. So, I actually got into building real estate and active real estate businesses as part of that.

And one thing led to the next, as part of learning that I got exposed to the digital course creation world. So then in the pandemic, it was March of 2020 when I had lawyers calling me who were part of my 8,000 plus lawyer network that I have asking, "Hey, we finally all have time on our hands. We've got these cases, but we're afraid to call you all because we think you're all saving the world from COVID." And I said, "Whoa, nothing could be further from the truth right now, like this horrible reality is we've got doctors, two thirds of whom are getting pay cuts are furloughed. This is what no one ever thought this Black Swan would look like. So, this is the perfect time to bring these two sides together, to help each other out in ways that maybe other people had never thought possible."

John: Oh, that was perfect. Perfect timing. There's been a lot of entrepreneurs who took advantage of the pandemic in a positive way. They had the time, or maybe they just gotten their appeal of to bike and get better shape, but people did use it productively to some extent. So that's cool. Well, we talked last time about the good things about entering this field, but I guess I wanted to ship because I'll put a link in my show notes to that previous episode, and everyone should listen to it if they're interested in this topic. But also, what I want to talk about today a little bit with you is what are those attributes or skills or things about a physician either that are intrinsic or that they learn to help them be the best expert witness they can be? Because it's not something you can just sort of do without thinking about and planning for.

Dr. Gretchen Green: The most important thing that most doctors have to accept in order to do this work is that the title expert witness you've already earned. That physicians by nature of our years of training, education skills, expertise, and clinical experience, that is what makes you an expert. It's your willingness to put those skills to work a little bit differently in the legal field to evaluate cases objectively and educate lawyers about your opinions. That's what takes some additional skills, but we're really good at doing that. We're really good at going into a new hospital system and figuring out electronic medical records or new clinical practice environments. We constantly adapt in medicine, even as we do a lot of our similar clinical skills.

So having a course like this gives you the structure to understand how to approach communications with lawyers, how to structure, how you review cases to do the work, and ultimately how to look at this also as a business, which is something a lot of doctors now who really want to take control of their finances want to do. And this is a perfect microcosm that helps you build some additional income and yet in a very manageable way that you control.

John: Yeah. I often get questions about in my area, like "If I want to go into hospital management or something, do I have to have a certain personality? Do I need to be an introvert or an extrovert or this or that?" And it's like, no, no. I've met people from all backgrounds, all personalities, they can all be good, medical directors, CMOs. You just have to learn those additional skills. Some of which they're transferable, but just some new skills and some new knowledge about how to do that and play to your strengths and you can do it. I'm assuming it's kind of the same with this.

Dr. Gretchen Green: Absolutely. And a lot of physicians, it's amazing to me, people with so much to give to the world, such a high level of skill and expertise would even be saying, "Is there any use for me in this?" Often people will ask me questions that start with phrases like "I'm just a da-da-da. I'm just an internal medicine doctor." And it's like, "Okay, step back a little bit here and think of the sentence you just said. I'd like you to rewind your life. Your entire life has been for this goal and you've given so much personally, professionally. You're not just anything."

And so, this is one of the great benefits of doing this work is you actually get paid what you're worth. And it's very rewarding. It's very intellectually workable. And every specialty pretty much has the opportunity because as long as there's clinical work happening in that specialty, there is a chance of liability from things that have gone wrong potentially. So, every specialty pretty much has the opportunity for this. And in fact, some of the general specialties, internal medicine, and family just by numbers are the most numerous. So, when you're going from a big denominator, you're going to have more work even than some subspecialty cases, neurosurgery, et cetera.

John: It's funny you say the word "just." I'm "just" this or that. I calculate it. Just primary care physicians have at least 15,000 hours of training, maybe 20,000. And when you get into subspecialties, you're over 20,000. That's enormous. And the attorneys need just this little bit of information out of that whole background that you have. I really have felt that this is the ideal side gig. Like I said, if you can cut your hours back clinically, make your life a little easier, work less hours, earn more and come to make up that difference and free up your life to spend time with your family and do other things.

Dr. Gretchen Green: Exactly. That's exactly my course. And I sort of sketched out goals over time. The 5-year, 10-year, 15-year plans. And I rapidly became busier than I could accommodate using my expert witness work and then with real estate and other things that I went back again on my clinical time. I now work two full clinical days a week and a part day, about three weeks a month. I have a total unicorn job. My group is just the best in the planet with these most amazing people who I get to work with and they value the skills that I bring back to the practice from this work. People have a lot of different opinions about is it good or bad? It's like, are you a good witch or a bad witch for doing this work?

But the fact is that the work needs doing. And so, we may as well have people bringing their best skills and understanding how to objectively review cases so that we can have at least positive impacts in the field. But yeah, it's definitely impacted my time. And so now, especially that expert witness work has become even more virtually based with depositions often being on Zoom, even some trials now, it's been more of an opportunity than ever to work in expert witness time into my own schedule, which has become busier and busier with other things.

John: Okay. Yeah. I want to make sure we spend a minute just talking about what else has changed. Maybe that's the main thing that has changed. The big question people often have as well. "If I'm doing this, how much time do I spend reviewing records?" Which sounds pretty straightforward. "How much time do I have to spend in a deposition? How much time do I have to spend testifying in court?" Which should be a pretty rare event. So, has that changed at all in the last three or four years? And tell us more about the remote situation. Can you do 100% remote almost?

Dr. Gretchen Green: It's almost 100%. Now the practical reality has been that a lot of trials were simply just deferred or canceled over the pandemic as courts were closed. Now we're still facing a backlog. We've still faced some ups and downs with variants that have affected different states and different courts, schedules. So, it's still probably slower from a trial standpoint than it has been in the past. But cases are going to trial. Things are catching up.

And just to give you an idea on the percentages. Per week I may spend a handful of hours doing case review. I've been retained in over 150 cases now over five years and yet it's very manageable and it's definitely less than the percentage of my time that I do my clinical work or other things. And that's important from a state compliance standpoint. You don't want to be doing way more expert witness work than you are in your clinical time. There is a balance that states do want but that's not hard to achieve just from the realities of life.

Depositions now, I'm doing as a pretty much a three-hour block. We schedule those at least 30 days in advance. And with the exception of one that has been hybrid, they've all been virtual. So those are all Zoom and it's done in a very confined timeframe for which I'm prepaid because I have to commit to that scheduled time. And that's an opportunity lost for other work of course

Case review is really as flexible as you want in your own time. I have had a couple cases that went to trial, but one of them, they deposed me in advance using a special deposition technique called it Day Bennet Essay deposition, which is just a formal term for we deposed you on Zoom before the trial and then play that deposition at trial instead of me coming to the testimony.

And then in one, we were due to start trial in about a week, but the plaintiff became critically ill. And so, they canceled the trial because if the plaintiff had died in the midst of trial, that would've resulted in a mistrial because I guess the damages in everything changes with the calculus. But otherwise, it's really been the most manageable now that it's ever been. And it's not going to change. Lawyers love doing... It's love-hate, right? We all hate some things about Zoom, but we love much more that I think we hate. And so, I don't see that they're going to just go back to all in person depositions, and now with trials and the opportunities to work with flexibility with schedules, I see that as a continued benefit.

John: Awesome. Wow. Yeah. I would not have known that unless you had been here explaining that to me today. All right. That's awesome. Okay. I want to stop for a second and give everyone your website. It's, correct?

Dr. Gretchen Green: Yes. It's

John: And everything that anyone wants to learn about you in terms of what you're doing in your courses and so forth are available there. But we're going to go into a little detail here about the course, and then I have a link that might be a little easier for people if they want to go right to signing up for the course. But let's start. Anything different about the course over the last few years, or just give us a quick overview to cover those things.

Dr. Gretchen Green: One of the new benefits we have, and again, really a pandemic related improvement has been that we have a new opportunity for CME eligibility through a company This is a group of super creative folks who have really improved the access to CME category one credits for digital courses and other little less traditional educational format products.

So now, this means that this course may be eligible to be paid for by your CME money. If you get that through your employer or your hospital. Even without that, it's still typically tax deductible as a business expense, even if you don't have a whole business LLC setup, which I do address in the course. But even without that, it's typically tax deductible. At any rate, the course pays for itself with your first case that you get retained and pays dividends multiplied when you start billing at the right level from the beginning and don't undervalue your time.

John: Yeah, I would think in just broad strokes that if I were taking a course like this, I'd want to learn just the nuts and bolts of being an expert witness, how do I prepare, how do I review things, how do I interact with attorneys? And then the other half has got to be okay, we want to protect ourselves who like any small business. So, I need to kind of set that up. So how should I set it up as a consultant? I'm assuming what I know is that those are definitely covered in depth in the course.

Dr. Gretchen Green: Yes, I have a dedicated module. That's a bonus module for business building. I also have a separate masterclass that's on money and marketing because a lot of doctors need some extra guidance and exposure to other experts who do that. But this is something that's very doable and these skills are very translatable then to doing other projects that you may want to do in your life, or again, just doing expert witness work, but with it being as a business itself.

John: Okay. That's nice because you're right. Anything we do as a side gig, you should have some kind of legal... I hate to just say an LLC, but that's usually what it turns out to be, but some kind of legal structure and understanding how to set things up and how to organize things. So, that's useful in and of itself. But tell me if you can, what the results may have been for some of your students, because you've been doing this long enough. And I haven't heard any kind of feedback on that. I'd love to hear that.

Dr. Gretchen Green: This has been really exciting even though it's only been two years and the average malpractice case can go on for years. I have cases still from 2019. So, three plus years is not unusual for a total lifetime. And even with pandemic delaying so many cases from progressing. I have had students even from the spring course of last year who have completed trials. So, I get to see their pictures in our Facebook group for the expert resource with them, showing themselves in their hotel room, wearing their suit, ready to go to the courthouse. Folks who have been so happy about deposition preparation, who have really felt that they did a great job, became prepared, they were confident.

And probably the most telling are the ones who will message me and just say, "Hey, I can't even tell you how my life has changed having this financially in my life. Having this ability, it has changed my life, being in charge of this and having the opportunity." Again, all this is, is putting your skills to work for money. That's what work is. And it's a great way, a very gratifying way to do it in a way that is needed.

John: Yeah. Your comment about how long cases can take. I've been involved in several malpractices and some were just other things. There are typically five years. There is that long period of time, but there's a lot of need along the way for reviewing things and updating things. And so, I wouldn't be afraid of that. It doesn't really matter to the medical consultant how long it takes. You're there just to provide your expertise, I would imagine.

Boy, if I was younger, I think I'd really look at doing something like this. I was deposed a couple of times and I kind of enjoyed it. You prepare for it and you just answer straightforwardly and you keep your cool, which you should really, you're a professional, so that should be simple. So yeah, I'm glad to hear that you've had great success with the people that have gone through the course and continue to interact with you with the Facebook group and otherwise.

Dr. Gretchen Green: Yeah. People will email me, they'll message me. And I think another benefit that we're probably just beginning to see is that physicians who are well versed in the medical malpractice environment may themselves be less likely to get sued. It may also improve the quality of care when they're practicing. Not defensively. Not defensively ordering exams and overdoing, but from truly a proactive sense of better practice of being informed about consensus statements, white papers, really keeping on top of literature and the best thing that this does at the end of the day is it improves patient care. It makes us better doctors.

John: Oh no, that's absolutely true. Nothing would teach a physician how to document better than being deposed. Because they're just looking at your records, let's say as a defendant. Not now as a consultant, but even as an expert witness, you're going to learn these things that the importance of how you document and when you document and everything else that goes into taking care of a patient and how it can impact on a potential lawsuit. It's eye opening. I would say definitely just going through this course would help that whether you ever serve as an expert witness or not.

Dr. Gretchen Green: True, true. And if you were ever yourself sued, even bet that you're going to put all these skills to work and more, and then you are your own benefit of your own expertise as well.

John: All right. That's absolutely true. Okay. Well, I've been lucky enough. I was able to help support you last time and I'm going to do it again this time. Not just through the podcast, but I'll have some links, which I will mention now. So, if my listeners go to, it will bring you directly to a page. It will explain in detail what the course is like and how to sign up. It's not mandatory. You can go and just check it out. So, I will put that link in my show notes, but if you're not looking at the show notes, again, it's I'll be mentioning it in some of my emails that most of you get.

All right. Well, let's see, Gretchen. Any last-minute comments or advice for physicians who are maybe in general just looking for a way to find more independence and freedom? They could do this, but in general, what's your experience in dealing with physicians that are kind of burned out, looking for other things to do?

Dr. Gretchen Green: I think this comes to your mission where you're providing information about doing things beyond the scope of typical clinical practice in medicine. When you take action, when you just get started in something that's new, there's no telling what the tangible and intangible benefits are from it. This may be the thing that re-energizes your clinical career, or as you've discussed in some recent podcasts about serving on nonprofit boards, the world is full of opportunities outside the clinical office. And it's when you take some steps to do some different things, where really the entry curve it's not a steep learning curve compared to learning how to do cardiothoracic surgery. It's just not as hard as that. The benefits are really just for yours in the making. So, I thank you so much for your support of the course, and I'm really happy that this link will help support your programs as well. And I'm just glad to be part of this community of physicians helping other physicians.

John: Yeah. You've been a real useful part of it for many physicians. We've learned some things today that we can use probably. And if we want to learn more, then we'll have that link and I'll send people to that. And I really look forward to hearing about how the next course goes. And maybe we'll have you again in a year or two and see what has transpired, because I know you're working on some new things. Well, that'll be our tease for the next time.

Dr. Gretchen Green: That's right. Well, thanks so much for having me.

John: It's been my pleasure. Thanks Gretchen. Bye-bye.

Dr. Gretchen Green: Thank you.


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