Leverage Communication Skills

Dr. Christian Urrea is currently working as a medical monitor for Novum Pharmaceutical Research Services, a Contract Research Organization (CRO). He graduated from Drexel University School of Medicine in 2012, then landed a job as a Specialist in QI and UM for a community hospital before moving to Novum as a Medical Monitor.

In today’s interview, Christian provides great advice as he describes his career journey. His comments are especially useful to physicians who did not complete residency and are not licensed. As he explains, with careful planning, networking, and mentoring, it's possible to find a job like his that builds on your medical education.

medical monitor mentor

Christian comes from a medical family. So, he felt like he had a natural predilection toward clinical medicine. He went to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and majored in chemistry. He went on to get a master's degree, as well as experience as a clinical research associate (CRA) before attending Drexel University College of Medicine.

As he neared graduation from Drexel, Christian realized clinical work was not the best option for him. So, he chose not to seek a residency position. After he graduated, he became a quality improvement (QI) and utilization management (UM) specialist for a community hospital.

The University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program

I'm very thankful to have the support of the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program offered by the Haslam College of Business. You’ll remember that I interviewed Dr. Kate Atchley, the Executive Director of the program, in Episode #25 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 most other ranked programs, which typically have a duration of 18 to 24 months, this program only takes a year to complete. And, it’s offered by the business school that was recently ranked #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA program, by Economist magazine.

University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations by contributing at the highest level while earning their degree. The curriculum includes a number of major assignments and a company project, both of which are structured to immediately apply to each student’s organization.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations and have become entrepreneurs and business owners. If you want to acquire the business and management skills needed to advance your nonclinical career, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or going to vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

Tracking Quality and Performance

Christian used the community hospital’s system to track compliance with quality measures and reward providers who achieved better-than-average scores.

Payers provided data that showed gaps in referral and patient care patterns, such as the rate of preventive screenings (i.e. colonoscopies, mammograms, etc.).

The goal was to analyze the data and develop a provider-specific plan to achieve the Triple Aim. Also, Christian developed peer-to-peer relationships with his network providers and used those data to educate them.

Even though I am not interested in direct patient care as a career, it doesn't mean that I don't feel passionate about having an impact on patient care.

Christian Urrea, MD

Christian found that gaining physician buy-in is a critical component to success in this field. Having the medical degree certainly helped him achieve that trust.



Although Christian wasn’t interested in direct patient care as a career, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t passionate about having an impact on patient care. After working for the PHO for a few years, he decided that investigating drug therapies was the best way for him to do that.

Hence, he sought a position as a medical science liaison (MSL). But at he began his search, he found that the medical monitor position would better align with his goals.

Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a place to network and find mentors. It also hosts a job board. And your profile can help recruiters find you. One of the first connections Christian made on LinkedIn was with Dr. Samuel Dyer, CEO of the Medical Science Liaison Society and author of Medical Science Liaison Career Guide: How to Break Into Your First Role.

Based on his experiences, Christian's advice to someone looking for a career as an MSL or a medical monitor is to find a mentor. A mentor can point you in the right direction, and provide encouragement when you become discouraged.

Being a Medical Monitor

Christian explained the positive aspects of his job as a medical monitor:

  • He enjoys being a cross-functional leader, collaborator, and teacher;
  • Being the primary person responsible for oversight of the safety of clinical trial subjects is fulfilling;
  • Fostering collaborative relationships with principal investigators is intellectually stimulating;
  • There are opportunities to work from home.

The primary downside to the position is that a sigicant amount of travel is generally required. According to Christian, you'll spend about 35% of your time travelling

Finally, he offers some tips on how to land a job as a medical monitor:

  • Try to match therapeutic areas to your educational background;
  • Know what the job entails before submitting an application;
  • Be able to speak medical monitor language before you interview;
  • Tie previous collaboration experiences into the medical monitor role;
  • Be persistent and positive.

Resources for Today's Episode:

Dr. Christian Urrea on LinkedInD

Christian Urrea’s Email: urreacp@gmail.com

Novum Pharmaceutical Research Services

Drexel University – College of Medicine

Medical Science Liaison Career Guide: How to Break Into Your First Role

Dr. John Jurica on LinkedIn

Dr. John Jurica on Twitter

University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA

Thanks to our sponsor…

We appreciate 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 vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

Thanks again for listening. I hope to see you next time on Physician NonClinical Careers.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

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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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