Interview with Dr. Jonathan Vitale

In this week’s interview, Dr. Jonathan Vitale explains how he found his remote nonclinical career.

Dr. Vitale is a board-certified Family Physician, certified counselor, and Physician Transition Coach. He pivoted from a traditional clinical career to a full-time remote nonclinical career in Utilization Management. 

He also has extensive experience in clinical medicine, telemedicine, medical media, consulting, the business of medicine, and executive leadership.

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Finding a Remote Nonclinical Career on Facebook

Jonathan is the founder of Remote Careers for Physicians Facebook Group with over 8,000 physician members. He has helped dozens of physicians transition into utilization management, telemedicine, expert witness consulting, insurance work, pharma, executive leadership, freelance consulting, medical education, medical writing, and medical media.

His work focuses on the psychological, logistical, financial, professional, and personal aspects of physician career transition.

Life is meant to be awesome. – Dr. Jonathan Vitale 

His preferred remote nonclinical career is utilization management. During our conversation, he explains why he thinks it is such a good option. And he tells us who is most suited for this job.


With the growing demand for career coaching for physicians, I have noticed a new trend. And I think it is a good one: physician coaches who specialize in a career niche. I’ve interviewed three coaches who specialize in the pharma and medical device industry. And now we have been introduced to Jonathan Vitale who focuses on UM careers.

Physicians have such a vast skillset. – Dr. Jonathan Vitale

They can all coach in areas outside of their niche, including a different remote nonclinical career. But if you’re committed to quickly finding a utilization management job, a coach like Jonathan Vitale is the way to go.


As we noted during the interview, you can find him at if you need a coach. Be sure to check out the Remote Careers for Physicians Facebook Group. And if you’d like to hear Jonathan’s musical side, go to TheRealDrJonathan on Instagram.

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PNC Podcast Episode 188

How to Find a Top Remote Nonclinical Career - Interview with Dr. Jonathan Vitale

John: Okay, listeners. I know that many of you are anxious to find a nonclinical job in utilization management or another remote career. And if you're one of those, then today's guest is here just for you. So, Dr. Jonathan Vitale, welcome to the PNC podcast.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Hi. Well, thank you so much for having me, John. I really appreciate it. I've been a fan of your podcast for a while. It's good to be on.

John: I was looking around Facebook as I do, this is back a while ago and I noticed this new site. So, I was like, “Wow, there is a Remote Careers for Physicians Facebook group”. And it had a few thousand members and now it's over 8,000 members and I thought, “Okay, I've got to get this guy on the podcast”.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yeah. Well, thank you so much. Yeah, it's funny. We started that group a little over two years ago well before the pandemic, Remote Careers for Physicians and it has really taken off since the pandemic as more and more people are looking for remote careers. So, it's a great group.

John: Yeah. I've been in there a few times and I would recommend it to everyone that's interested. And you've talked about all kinds of careers in there. Utilization Management comes up quite a bit and I know you're an expert in that, but why don't you go ahead and tell us briefly about your educational background and kind of segue into your clinical practice and then into what you're doing more recently?

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Sure. My background in medicine is pretty traditional. I was a psychology major in college. I did all the pre-reqs during college. Then I went and got a two year master's degree in counseling. And immediately after that, I went to medical school. And then immediately after that, I went to a family medicine residency in Chicago. After residency, I spent about a year in Chicago doing locums work, a little bit of telemedicine work as well. And then I moved to New York City where I live today. And I got a job at a more concierge style, outpatient family medicine practice, where I worked for about a year and a half. And then after that is when I made the transition into utilization management where I've been working full-time for the past five years almost. So here I am today.

John: Okay. So, I have a question. What prompted you to make that transition? We get a lot of guests on here that either they got burnt out or they just realized I chose this career basically when I was a kid and it's not what I thought it was going to be. And so, let's look for something different.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: That's a really great question. I think that Utilization Management draws physicians from a lot of different places in their life. For me, I was a little bit unique in that my entire life I've always wanted to be a doctor, but I've always also had other interests. I've had a lot of interest in business my entire life. I've had a lot of interest in politics, in policy. I've had interest in how health insurance worked and how health care dollars were spent in this country.

So, I actually got a little bit interested in UM as early as being a medical student where I started reading about it. And I never really pictured myself sitting in a clinic or sitting in a hospital for the rest of my career. I knew that would be something that would be a little bit boring for me and not really for me. And it wouldn't use every part of my interest. It wouldn't cover all of my interests.

So, that's really what drew me to utilization management, being able to use many different parts of my brain, whether it’d be the medical part, the ethical part, the business part, and also my part-time life as a musician. I knew I wanted a lot of flexibility in my day-to-day life. And I knew that utilization management was one of those ways that I would be able to get that flexibility. Then the more common thing that I went through was even when I worked at this more concierge style practice where I was only working four days a week, only seeing 14 or so patients a day, I still got very burned out from that.

As a family doctor, there's a lot that goes on in medicine today, where it's a very tough daily grind for really anybody in medicine, but especially primary care. And I just wasn't completely fulfilled by it. So, that's how I got to where I am today. And interestingly, I'm more fulfilled than ever.

John: Awesome. That's great. When you talk about that and think about even in med school, that is what you might do later with a little bit more multiple kinds of interests. I was in a conversation the other day with Dr. Heidi Moawad. She is one of my guests from the past and she's a writer and so forth. And we were talking about how most physicians don't think about anything after clinical practice. Like there nothing exists and yet there are thousands and thousands of jobs just open waiting for a physician to step in and they have to be a physician with experience to do those jobs.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yeah. You know what's crazy about it? And I talk about this all the time. Physician Hood is one of those few careers where everybody assumes, you're going to be sitting in a clinic or a hospital for the rest of your career. People don't think that for lawyers. Probably half of lawyers don't practice law or a lot of other jobs too. Pharmacists, who a ton of them work for a big pharma work in business, or people who are even in the military and they just do the military for a few years and then they go off and do something else.

But for some reason, physicians are always assumed to have to do the daily grind of traditional medicine every day for the rest of their career. And it's really too bad because physicians have so much knowledge and so many skills that are really needed in so many other jobs. And that's why all these groups exist so that physicians A) understand that and B) can figure out how to get those jobs as well.

John: Yeah, that is a good point. Well, we're not going to let you get past the fact that you transitioned to UM without hearing a little bit more about how you personally made the transition. How did you find the job? How did you prepare for the job? Who did you reach out to? Did you use a recruiter? Tell us a little bit more about that.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yeah. And this is what I like talking about the most, because for everybody listening, I'm just a regular doctor. I had no connections, none at all. And I didn't even have that much experience, in post residency medicine. But what I did is I basically went online and would apply every day on Indeed and on LinkedIn. And that was basically the two places I would look. And I did that for months and months and months, and I got more rejection emails or as I call them, I was ghosted more times that I can even count. And what happened though and this was probably a stroke of luck, was that having applied for months and months and months, probably over six months at this point, I got a gig 10 hours a week, doing Medicare reviews for a company based out of Florida.

And so, that allowed me to dip my toe into the water. So, I was working, doing this 10 hours a week while I was in a full-time clinical practice. And that was really just a stroke of luck. It was a newer company. They needed people. They knew I wasn't that experienced, but they took a risk.

Then after that, after doing that job for probably a year or so, I was like this is really interesting work. I kept applying on Indeed for a full-time role. I kept applying. And that gave me a little bit of credential because I was able to put that small gig on my CV, which is always the key. And I teach people how to do this, how to get those small gigs that give them experience in UM. And another flu guy called or another stroke of luck. I got an interview with a smaller company based out of Tennessee that was looking for physician reviewers. And I started with them, I think 20 hours a week. And then after about six months, they asked me to come on full time and I've been there ever since.

My journey was pretty traditional because I went through the whole application process, kept applying, kept applying, had no connections. I think what physicians forget, they always say, “Wow, it's so hard to get a job in a non-traditional career. It's so hard to get a job in UM”. My answer to that is it's not that it's hard, it's that it's not very easy. And physicians are used to getting a job in clinical medicine very easily. And in the non-traditional world, it's not like that. It takes a while, but you can still get those jobs, just takes persistence.

John: Now, I don't want to go into everything you teach your clients because we're going to talk about your coaching in a minute. But you probably don't advise people to just take your path, just start applying. So, what would be one, just one sort of thing that would accelerate their process, that you would share with us now? Like here's how you can prepare or maybe a place you'd look besides LinkedIn or Indeed. Any advice?

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yeah. So, my biggest advice for people who really want to do UM and they're really interested in it is to get experience doing it. And there's some really easy ways to do that. There's the NAIRO website, for instance, And if you go there and you click on members, it has a lot of companies that hire physicians to do PRN physician reviews of all sorts. And these are jobs that don't require any experience. So long as you are board certified, they'll put you on their panel. And after you're on that panel for a while, you'll get a handful of these cases that you'll be able to do just to put something on your CV. And after you do that, you're going to have a lot more likelihood of getting your foot in the door to these real UM gigs that are part-time or full-time. So that's always my biggest advice to people.

The other piece of advice I have is Facebook is an amazing resource nowadays, all the physician groups, of course, there's my group, there's your group. There's a lot of groups on Facebook where you can go in and ask doctors what they're doing, reach out to people who are doing work that you want to do. Try to make connections is the thing I say. And it's so easy to do nowadays on LinkedIn or Facebook. Make a connection. Don't do what I did, which is I didn't have any connections, I just blindly kept applying every day. You can do that, but it's going to be much easier if you can get a connection. That's what I would say.

John: Can you imagine doing this 20, 30 years ago? You had no internet, no applications. It'd be crazy. But I do want to ask you, what do you like about it so much? Why do you think it's a good option for physicians and what do you find that's compelling for you?

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Well, I think it's a great job because it uses so many areas of your brain. As I said before, you're not just thinking like a doctor, but you're also thinking like a business person, you're also thinking like a financial person. But at the end of the day, you're always making the ethical decision. And so, I consider people in UM kind of physician advocates. We're working to make sure that patients get the care they need. And this is at a very high level and oftentimes these patients are very sick and need a lot of services, and we're trying to make sure that they can get the care they need while we're also reducing the fraud waste and abuse that happens in the system. So, if you're looking for that sort of satisfaction, I think it really gives you that.

The other thing is, I think that UM is a great job for people who are self-motivated, who don't mind working from home, but nowadays most of these jobs are from home, who are so good at self-policing and self-pacing because you're not really monitored that heavily and you have to usually get through a certain amount of volume.

And I think it's good for people who want more flexibility in their life, who want to maybe spend more time with their family, spend more time on hobbies, spend more time on other things in their life, maybe some business side things that they're doing. And I think it's also great for people who want a very stable schedule. They want to work 40 hours a week. They don't want call. They don't want nights. They don't want weekends. So, there are so many different people who do well in UM and I've worked with many of them over the years. And it's a really great profession for people who just aren't fully satisfied doing the daily grind of clinical medicine.

John: I just have to maybe jump in here about asking you a question. I assume the pay is decent compared to what you're doing as a physician and if you take into account the lack of call, the lack of late hours, the lack of all the weekends and all that. And once you're in it and you have experience, there's some upward mobility there in terms of your pay.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yes. That's something I like to talk about because if you're a clinical physician and you're employed as most physicians are, you're probably not going to see too much opportunity for things like bonuses, unless you're working at a RVU system, but even then, as I always say, doctors are treated a lot better in the nonclinical world than they are in the clinical world.

In terms of pay, I always say that it's probably on average around a family physician, outpatient family physician salary, but you can easily get above that. And there are usually opportunities for bonuses, yearly bonuses. And also, usually there's a percentage increasing your salary every year, a small one, but still a notable one.

And you're exactly right. If you take into account the fact that you're never on call, that you have a corporate vacation, which is four weeks, you have time for all sorts of things. If you take all that into consideration, it's worth it. It's really worth it. I won't lie. If you're a super specialist and you're going into UM, you're probably going to take a bit of a pay cut, but it's going to be made up for in terms of your lifestyle, in my opinion.

John: Yeah, yeah. And it's funny because I know so many clinicians who have four weeks of vacation. They're lucky if they ever take it. It's like, “Oh, well, we can't get coverage”. Well, what is the point of having a contract? And the other thing about the contract is there's no pay raise in the contract. If it's a two-year contract, it's fixed. If it's a three-year contract, it's fixed. I've had people come back. I was a CMO at a hospital. It's like, “Well, don't I get a cost of living? - You're on a contract, man. That's not built in”. If you were an employee, you'd be in a much better position in the sense that if you have like what everybody else in the organization gets, which is a salary increase and all that.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yeah, you are exactly right. So, if physicians have also a utilization management, I think it depends on the company you work for, of course, but there can be opportunity for vertical movement, to become the intro level position in utilization management as medical director, but then there's often opportunities to be a senior medical director, regional medical director, depending on how big the company is. And then of course receiving more executive roles, like CMO, things like that. And then of course the pay is different for each of those. So, there is opportunity for a lot of professional growth in most UM companies, not all.

John: And then if you keep looking, you go from one job and find the next one. But I'm going to segue now into your Facebook group, because you've got over 8,000 physicians in there looking for the right answer for themselves. So, I want to know, what have you learned in running the Facebook group and what other are the common remote or home-based careers that seem to crop up in there?

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Well, I've learned a lot from running that group. I think the biggest thing I've learned is that what a big desire there is for remote careers and non-traditional careers for physicians. We have over 8,000 physicians in our group from all over the world. And most of them have never had a remote job. They're trying to get one, they're trying to learn more about it.

And so, that's really fantastic that there's such a desire, but also the best thing about the group is physicians helping each other. Everybody's trying to help each other, everybody's giving each other leads. And that makes me feel very good that physicians are so good to each other. Because for people like me who used not to be that happy in my job, I want to make sure that I can do what I can to make sure other physicians get to make the transition I made and get to become happy again. It's kind of important and it is great how physicians look out for each other. So, the group has been just a lot of fun and a real great place for anybody to join, to get information.

The jobs that we talk about the most in the group, certainly utilization management is the number one thing we talk about. I think it's a very common path for physicians interested in non-traditional careers to go into. But we also talk a lot about the industry jobs in pharma, which is big nowadays. So many opportunities there. And we have a lot of people in the group who talk a lot about that. Many of whom you've had on your podcast.

Also, I would say medical writing is something that a lot of people are interested in nowadays. Whether it's medical education writing or writing for various outlets or media, things like that, that's always a popular one.

And then interestingly, a lot of people are interested in telemedicine, which is of course still clinical. But the opportunities for telemedicine nowadays have just exploded because of the pandemic. So, a lot of our docs really enjoy doing a little bit of telemedicine as well. So those are the main ones in our group.

John: Yeah, I focus on nonclinical careers, but I always include locums and telemedicine because you get the flexibility, the telemedicine is home based. So even though it's still clinical, that is very attractive. I noticed in the group that I'm the admin for the PNC Hunters, that we get people in UM who will say, “Hey, my company is hiring”. So, do you get a lot of those posts?

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: We do. I wish my Facebook group existed when I was applying because it’s a great way to get leads. It's the Facebook group. The company I work for, we've hired doctors through my Facebook group as well. So, I make those postings too. So yes, definitely join and use it as part of your job search, those Facebook groups.

John: All right. So that's Remote Careers for Physicians. Just look it up on Facebook. Because I wanted to segue now into the last part to talk about what you're doing outside of that Facebook group, in the coaching with physicians who are looking for nonclinical careers. I'm assuming that a big chunk of that might be for those who are definitely interested in UM, but tell us more about the coaching that you're doing. And that's at

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Correct. I started doing some coaching about two years ago. Again, I have a background in counseling. So, I saw that there was a big need for physicians who really need that one-on-one attention. And that's what I started doing.

So, what I do is I help physicians who are in a traditional job and they're just not happy for whatever reason. I help them figure out what they don't want to do with the rest of their life. Which is oftentimes more important than figuring out what you do want to do. And then I help them understand what all their options are. And then I help them to transition into that.

And yes, most of the people I work with are interested in UM, but there are so many aspects to making a career transition like this that I help out with. There are psychological aspects, there's financial aspects, family aspects, geographic, legal, licensure aspects. All those things that doctors have to think about. And that's what I work with people on. So, reach out to me at If you want to make an appointment, I'd love to speak with everybody.

John: You make a good point because it's not a matter of just saying, “Well, let's see, what's my passion? I can figure that out”. But you also have, “Well, do you have any money saved up and what's it going to do to the paying back your student loans?” And psychologically, what's going to be the impact when your family looks at you like you're crazy.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: That's right. Yeah. These are all extremely important. These are more important even than figuring out what you don't want to do and what you do want to do. Yeah, because I always say to people, look how long can you go without having an income. Because you have to be prepared for this to take six months, for this to take even a year, sometimes longer in some cases. And unfortunately, physicians are notorious for not being great with money. But there are a lot of great physician finance groups.

John: There are plenty of those.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Plenty of those. So, we're getting a lot better at it, but it's something I help physicians with as well to make that transition.

John: That's awesome. That's cool. So, we'll put links to everything in there and actually, I'll put a link to NAIRO, which you mentioned earlier and whatever else came up during our conversation.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yes. It’s a great site.

John: No, this is good because as far as I can tell, it's the most popular nonclinical, that's an informal observation job. And to know that there's someone out there that has expertise specifically in how to transition in that is very helpful.

Well, Jonathan, we're going to run out of time pretty soon here. So, anything else that you haven't told us that you want to tell us or any words of advice for the listeners?

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Well, my words of advice for everybody who's interested is, go on the Facebook groups and just learn more about all that's available. Even if you think you're happy in what you're doing now, just go and learn about it and see.

The other thing is it allows you to have a lot of time to do other things. So again, I'm a big musician. You can check out my work at therealdrjonathan on Instagram. I appreciate being here and I really hope people reach out to me or reach out to our Facebook groups if you're at all interested because I want to help and all the doctors in our group want to help you too, to make sure that you're in a career that you love.

John: It's going to be interesting to see where this goes 10 years from now.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: It will be.

John: We're in a flux right now when people are scurrying around and trying to find out what they can do besides clinical, if that's what they're interested in. So, I really appreciate those words of wisdom and advice. That was awesome. I think this gives people hope because it sounds like there's a way to make that transition. There's help out there.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yeah. There's always hope. And there's so many people willing to help you out there. A lot of physician coaches other than me and these Facebook groups. And don't forget, physicians have such a vast skill set. They just have to figure out how to best market themselves and how to apply it. Because really life is meant to be awesome. And you have to be in a job that you really enjoy going to, and that you feel that you're making a difference because that's what being a doctor is all about. Because at the end of the day, we're either directly or indirectly all working to make sure that patients get great care. And that's what all these jobs are about. So, don't be afraid to explore them.

John: Yeah. We're not talking about dropping everything and opening a hot dog stand. We're taking that medical knowledge, all that education, all that experience, the leadership, the management, and applying it in another way.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Yeah, absolutely. I would say there's a lot of parts to the moving wheels of medicine. It's not just sitting in a clinic or sitting in a hospital. There are so many other moving parts where we need good doctors to make sure that our patients are getting good care, that's affordable and accessible.

John: All right. Well, that sounds like a good note to end on. So, with that, Jonathan, thanks so much for being here today. And I will just say goodbye.

Dr. Jonathan Vitale: Well, thank you so much, John. Thanks for having me.

John: You're welcome. Take care.


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