Another Piece of the Career Success Puzzle

Today’s topic is one I’ve been dying to talk about. It has to do with professional societies and associations. They have an important role to play in physician career transition.

Today I will introduce you to important professional societies and associations. I will visit each society’s site and provide you with specific information on each one.

Professional societies are an integral piece of the career success puzzle. In fact, those discussed today have helped thousands of physicians find their first nonclinical job or side-gig.

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Benefits of Professional Societies and Associations

Whether it's landing your first job, or advancing your career, these organizations provide many helpful resources. These resources generally include:

  • education,
  • certification,
  • publications,
  • networking opportunities,
  • and job listings.

6 Outstanding Organizations

The organizations discussed in today's Physician Nonclinical Careers podcast episode include:

American College of Physician Advisors

This organization supports physicians in multiple physician advisor roles. It supports physicians doing utilization management, benefits management, case management, clinical documentation improvement, and quality improvement.

Health Information Management Systems Society

HIMSS is THE organization to join for those involved in health information management, health information systems, and health informatics. As discussed here, medical informatics is an excellent nonclinical job. It often sets the stage for advancing to chief medical officer or chief medical information officer.

American Association for Physician Leadership

This is a physician-directed, physician-oriented organization for those in any health-related field interested in management and leadership. It provides all of the resources listed above and more.

The MSL Society

This society is often mentioned as a critical resource by MSLs interviewed on this podcast. It is discussed in detail in the Nonclinical Career Academy Course Build a Rewarding, Lucrative Career as a Medical Science Liaison.

 Association of Clinical Research Professionals

This association has been recommended by recent podcast guests working in Pharma. It is especially useful for those interested in jobs in the Clinical Development realm. But it is also useful for those interested in Medication Safety and some jobs in Medical Affairs.

American Medical Writers Association

This organization has been mentioned frequently by medical writers and editors. Its members include many nonphysicians, but definitely addresses issues important to physician writers.


Professional societies and associations provide important resources. They support career transition and advancement. Today's summary provides an overview of six organizations and their member resources.

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

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Transcription PNC Podcast Episode 221

Outstanding Professional Societies and Associations You Must Know

John: Today, I'm going to introduce you to some important professional societies and associations. One of them is called a college. This one is less scripted than most because I'll be visiting each societies' site online today while I am telling you about the different sites.

Now, why am I addressing this topic and why is it potentially very important? Well, some of you probably already know this, but many of the societies and associations have resources that can help you to land a job. These resources can be in the form of online education. Some of them have networking, some have live events where you learn, but also do networking at the same time. Some have online events, some actually have certifications that you can obtain, which can demonstrate some level of expertise as you're applying for a nonclinical job.

Since many of you have done only clinical work, the first job is the most difficult to get. And if you have some experience, if you have taken some courses, if you've obtained a certification, I'm not talking about something that takes three years to get. We're talking here about something that could be as short as 10 weeks or two or three months or something like that, that will give you the additional push that you need to get that first job.

That's why it's really important. And it is included in much of what I teach and others for that matter as sort of an ancillary step, meaning you need to have your resume written, you need to have a LinkedIn profile. You need to use mentors, consider a coach. And one of the steps in there too, that you might not always use as mandatory, is join a society. It's not just the joining of the society that is the point, it's that using the resources within the society. Many of these I have mentioned over the last 200 episodes or so off and on. Let's figure out how these might be able to help you.

Now, how did I select the associations that I'm going to be talking about today? Well, there are associations I definitely have mentioned in the past, but what I did was I looked at my list of 70 nonclinical jobs, which is a freebie that many of you have downloaded. If you go to their freebie and you can get it at you will find that one of the resources in the table, which I have the list, but it also lists a free resource that can help get you started.

And most of the time that resource is an association, a college, a society, something like that, which has a lot of other resources in it.

That's where this list came from. If you want to get that list and follow along, you can, but I'm going to go through it. I'll mention the links here today and they will be in the show notes, of course.

All right. So, let's get right to it. What I'm doing here is I'm actually opening up the sites for these, and I'm going to go through them. One that's at the top of the list, it's called the American College of Physician Advisors. And by the way, I think I'm going through basically six of these societies. Just so you know how long this will be. I will probably get through this in about 15 minutes.

The American College of Physician Advisors. And I'm not a member of this college or this society, but you can tell from the name who it's meant for. And it does support and educate physicians who service physician advisors in multiple roles, mostly I would say in utilization management, benefits management, and also in clinical documentation improvement.

To some extent, anybody that's called a physician advisor in a role, mostly in the hospital setting, but also in the insurance company setting. These are remote jobs, unless they're in the hospital in which they're oftentimes face to face, this college will be helpful. The link is And if you go there, the college provides a lot of education. It has books, it has a whole resource page for clinical documentation improvement. It has poles, it has a handbook, it has physician advisor surveys. It links you to a CHCQM certification. That's a certification in quality management, and it also has some discounts for other paid resources and it has webinars and videos that you can access.It also promotes the end pack, which is the National Physician Advisors conference, which looks like it's held annually. There is a learning center which has a number of courses. And it does have a link to a type of certification.

Again, if you're in the physician advisor role or applying for that role, and it's a little bit competitive, then you can definitely use their resources. Now they also have a careers tab and a jobs board on there as well, which might be a place for you to look for your first job. So that's number one, American College of Physician Advisors.

The next one is HIMSS. And this one is specifically for those that are in informatics. Now, as you can imagine, as I go through, I'll try to mention this, but the American College of Physician Advisors is mostly physicians obviously, but HIMSS is a very diverse and very large and well-known society.

HIMSS is the Health Information and Management Systems Society. A lot of people just call it HIMSS. They used to have a sub-section for physicians. I'm not sure if they still do. But they are doing anything and everything related to health information and management. That's typically hospital information management, health informatics, medical informatics, nursing informatics. The people that work here have all kinds of backgrounds in information systems. Some are clinical, some are nonclinical, informaticists, and chief information officers who are usually not clinical, as opposed to chief medical information officers (CMIOs).

There is, of course, a membership and a directory, which could help you to network. But really, I think most of the people network through the live events, which might be a little less common recently because of the recent pandemic. But that should be opening up again. And they also offer certifications. Their aim is for different types of professionals. So, you'd have to look closely and see which certification would be appropriate for you and possibly worthwhile to obtain.

When I've talked to people that are interested in informatics, a lot of times they will get a quick certification after doing some coursework at a local, let's say community college or university. Physicians will do that just to demonstrate that they have a little deeper knowledge than just what they've learned, let's say on, working with EMR and that sort of thing. They'll get that at a local college or university, and that will give them a little bit more of an edge when they're applying for these jobs. But you can learn an awful lot by talking with the people at HIMS, interacting with other members, and then attending their events. And you can find out everything about them there.

The next one, one of my favorites, I won't spend too much time on, but it's the American Association for Physician Leadership. If you look at the 70-job list, you'll see that I have that one listed for about 10 of the jobs because it really provides support for anybody that's a medical director, for all different kinds of service lines or QI or CDI or informatics, or again, a specific unit. And if you're a VP for medical affairs, if you're chief medical officer, chief clinical officer, chief patient safety officer, anyone in any of those jobs or related jobs, even in other industries besides hospitals and health systems. I know a lot of my colleagues at the AAPL are leaders in insurance companies, CME companies, medical communications, and pharma companies, for sure.

It's all about leadership. And of course, they're the company that puts out the CPE, the certified physician executive, which requires an MBA or the equivalent of an MBA to obtain. But there is lots and lots of education through this organization. Live education, online education, in-person education. They have a leadership assessment there. They provide a career link where you can actually look up different leadership jobs.

They have a really awesome main page for members that allows them to keep track of what they've done so far on their leadership journey. And then they have publications. They have a leadership journal and a journal of medical practice management. They sell a lot of books. They are a publishing firm actually, but there's a lot of publications that they sell that are generated by their own staff or members. And so, definitely, you should check out the AAPL. It can be found at

All right, the next one is the MSLS - The Medical Science Liaison Society. I think I was temporarily a member of that. Not that I wanted to become an MSL, but when I was doing a lot of research on the MSL position I've interviewed half a dozen or more people that are MSLs.

This is again, a very comprehensive society. It invites people who are currently MSLs to help them advance within their careers, but also those who are thinking of becoming MSLs. And remember that a medical science liaison is not always a physician. So, like HIMSS, the membership here would include nonphysicians because a lot of MSLs are PAs and NPs, PharmDs, and PhDs. A physician is a significant component, but definitely not the only profession.

Again, the membership offers a lot of things. It's been around a long time. There's a lot of networking through the MSLS. They have regular events, including online live events. They produce a survey that will tell you about MSLs salaries, which can be helpful when you're negotiating your first or even subsequent salaries.

The other resources include some specific to COVID-19. And others help advance you in your career as an MSL, and to get your first job as an MSL. For example, if you look under training, there's a section on aspiring MSLs. So that is information on how to become an MSL. And a lot of that is helpful just when you're thinking about whether you should do this because by seeing what the training entails, it gives you an idea of what the job will ultimately entail.

And they now have an MSL certification, which I don't think most MSLs go through. But it's there, if it's something where you're really having trouble, and you need that extra boost to demonstrate your ability or your interest, then getting that certification can be very helpful.

The next society is one I don't think I've talked about very much, but it has come up when we're discussing pharmaceutical jobs. It's the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. I think this could be really useful for almost anyone trying to break into pharma, whether it is the MSL job or a medical monitor or pharmacovigilance or medical affairs.

But as you can tell, the ACRP can be quite useful if you're looking to try to get into the clinical development side, where you help support studies (phase one, phase two, phase three studies). These attempt to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of a new drug, which are really the two major components, then you'd definitely want to consider something through the ACRP, which is Again, I'll put those links in the show notes.

But they have resources there to help accelerate your career. They have resources that are educational. They have some very specific certifications, which again, help when you're trying to break into pharma. Let's say you've been practicing clinically, or maybe you've never gone through a residency and you want to demonstrate your interest and that you have some knowledge of pharma and especially the regulatory components. Then you can check out the certification through the ACRP.

They have regular courses, they have e-learning webinars, they have home study. They have local chapters that can be helpful for networking. They do have a job board as well. They will keep you posted on news in clinical research. Again, it's something that we have not spoken about a lot, but it can definitely be a useful resource when you're looking for a position, as a regulatory affairs director, a safety officer, a clinical researcher, or a principal investigator. And even if you're just doing some support roles, such as a clinical scientist or medical monitor, this could be very, very helpful.

The last one that I want to talk about today is It's the American Medical Writers Association. I've talked about this several times. Medical writing is a pretty vast area with multiple sub-areas within it. Everything from technical writing on one end to journalistic on the other.

From what I know, there's something for everybody here. They have education through online learning and live webinars. You can get different kinds of certificates. In fact, you can get a certification as a medical science writer. I don't see that this is commonly required, but if you don't have an extensive portfolio of writing, and you're trying to make that one differentiation with somebody else, if you might be competing for a job, then certification might be helpful.

They do have a job board there as well, and they have support for your career as a medical writer. Again, this is a society or an association that has nonphysicians for sure. In fact, probably most of the people in this association are not physicians, but there are plenty of physicians there. There are a lot of people that you can network with and learn from. I think that's basically what I want to say about the AMWA.

With that, I'll stop. I tried to give you a sense of some of the societies and associations. Now, not every job that you're going to look for in the future here is going to have an affiliate society or college or something like that.

But if one of these applies to a job you may be looking for, then I would definitely advise you to join and take full advantage of all the resources they might have. And if you want to learn about other societies or associations, then definitely drop me a note at And I'll see what I can do, perhaps add to this and republish it down the line.

But that's my overview of six major associations and societies that you should know as you're beginning your career search. Some of the jobs that are done by members of these societies are full-time and some of them are definitely freelance, like the writing jobs and part-time. And so, again, it just depends on what you're looking for, what your needs are.


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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.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. I do not provide 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 counselor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career.