Explore One of Six Wonderful Vocations

In this week’s episode, John is alone behind the microphone to take a deep dive into nonclinical careers for discouraged doctors. This episode explores some of the best career options for doctors that are not board certified. However, they are also an option for more experienced board-certified clinicians.

Before getting into the specifics of the careers, John highlighted some of the key general tactics that should be used by every physician seeking a career pivot:

  • Create a complete LinkedIn profile;
  • Network with classmates, colleagues, contacts, etc.;
  • Join professional organizations in the chosen field;
  • Join LinkedIn groups in the space you're exploring;
  • Find a mentor to help guide you.

6 Nonclinical Careers to Save Discouraged Doctors

Medical Writer

For physicians who are looking for flexibility and a career they can do from home, medical writer may be the answer. With a vast range of options, from blog articles to technical writing, discouraged doctors are sure to find something that fits their needs.

Travel requirements are minimal. But this job requires self-discipline. And interactions with others are uncommon unless you're writing based on interviews. So, this may not be the career for the gregarious extrovert.

For physicians that are looking for plenty of flexibility and a career that they can do from home, medical writer may be the answer.

John Jurica

A great way to get started as a medical writer is to submit unpaid articles to online publications while working at your current job. You can test the waters and build up a portfolio at the same time. If you're interested in pursuing medical writing, check out the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and take a listen to episodes 22, 56, 63, and 75.

Clinical Documentation Improvement

Medicare regulations have caused an explosion of companies focused on Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI). As a CDI professional, you will be trained in the fascinating intricacies of translating chart information to appropriate billing codes.

Working in CDI is a great choice for discouraged doctors. This job allows for the option to work in-house at your current hospital, as an independent contractor, or from home. The job requires working on CDI teams, interacting with individual physicians, and teaching small groups of physicians.

There are some great resources, such as the Association for Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists, which offer training and certification. You can also check out Episodes 5 with Cesar Limjoco, and 77 with Christian Zouain, for more information about this career choice.

Medical Communications

Medical Communications is one of the careers that are open to physicians with clinical experience and those without. Generally, you’ll be working in marketing agencies that deal with pharma and device companies.

It’s a great role if you enjoy working in a conventional office with a regular schedule. Teamwork and communication skills are important. There is a great infographic to check out with a list of agencies in the space. You should also take a listen to our interview with Dana Carpenter in episode 61.


Consulting can be an excellent career choice for physicians without clinical experience. Firms sometimes prefer doctors without experience so they can train them to their way of doing things, without having to break old habits.

Depending on the firm and your location, it may require significant amounts of travel. It can be very lucrative, though, with opportunity for advancement. There are a many companies to look at if you are interested. Here are some of the biggest ones:

Medical Monitor

Frustrated and discouraged doctors that have experience working in research or with committees that deal with medication would be well suited to a career in medical monitoring. Medical monitors generally work in pharmaceutical research. They monitor research studies and ensure that they are medically sound. The job may involve some travel, but not as much as some of the other roles we covered. If you are interested in medical monitoring, listen to episode 70 of the podcast for more info. There are hundreds of companies that employ medical monitors. Here are some of the biggest ones:

Our Sponsor

We're proud to have the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, as the sponsor of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest-running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country, with over 650 graduates. Unlike other programs, which typically run 1 – 1/2 to 2 years, this program only takes a year to complete. And Economist Magazine recently ranked the business school #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA.

University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations. While in the program, you'll participate in a company project, thereby contributing to your organization.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations. And they've become entrepreneurs and business owners.

By joining the University of Tennessee physician executive MBA, you will develop the business and management skills you need to advance your career. To find out more, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or go to vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

Medical Science Liaison

Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is a good entry job for getting into the pharmaceutical space. Ideal candidates for MSL roles will need to be very familiar with the regulatory landscape. You will also need to be okay with traveling regularly and meeting new people. A career as an MSL can require up to fifty percent travel and involves lots of “meeting and greeting.” The MSL Society and MSL Institute are both great resources. You can also listen to episodes 50, 51, 66, and 89 of the podcast.


These six careers will allow you to apply your medical training to help patients in a different way. There is an ongoing demand for each of them.

Pursuing them will require some old skills and a period of intense learning. But physicians who have made the transition have generally been very happy with their decision.

Eager to Build a Rewarding Career as a Medical Science Liaison?

Here's the smart way to do it (even if you never completed a residency training program)…

I recently released my first formal course How to Secure a Career as a Medical Science Liaison.

It’s designed to take you from where you are in your career, to your first job as an MSL in the growing pharmaceutical industry.

I chose to focus on this career because it's open to both licensed and unlicensed physicians.

The course is now open. It will be closed for enrollment soon. And the current price is the LOWEST price at which it will ever be offered.

To learn more, go to vitalpe.net/mslcourse.

Links for today's episode:

See text for links.

Thanks to our sponsor…

Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at nonclinicalphysicians.com/physicianmba.

I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.

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Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton.


The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business. 

Many of the links that I refer you to, and that you’ll find in the show notes, are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you, that I have personally used or am very familiar with.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career. 

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