Non-clinical physician job descriptions & responsibilities

For new graduates and physicians with just a few years under their belts, exploring nonclinical MD jobs might seem like the last thing to consider. However, with increased rates of burnout and job dissatisfaction in the profession, fewer opportunities to increase salary without sacrificing personal time, and increased pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, alternative careers for doctors are more popular than ever. Survey results even report that 66% of Sermo physicians experience long hours, poor work life balance, emotional stress and burnout, with 73% reporting spending more than 10 hours alone on paperwork. Furthermore, a career in medicine doesn’t need to follow a traditional path for it to be successful! Read on to discover 17 alternative jobs for doctors outside of medicine and part-time jobs for physicians outside of the clinic.

1. Medical education

Still passionate about the field, but not the profession? Interested in helping educate the next generation of medical students? Education may be the career path for you. If you’re interested in teaching on a more full-time basis, or have a passion for research that is currently not being used to its fullest potential, it might be time to explore a faculty position at a university. 

Community colleges and vocational schools (including those that provide education to other healthcare professionals) may be looking to provide part-time jobs for doctors outside of medicine. In these instances, you may only be required to teach one or two core classes at a time, and be able to continue with your clinical practice. Some physicians can create teaching programs to help medical students and residents with preparing for USMLE exams, in-service exams, as well as helping other physicians with training for written and oral board exams. Finally, if you only have a few hours at a time to commit, continuing education for physicians can be a wonderful way to explore your passion for teaching.

2. Corporate physician roles or insurance medicine

If you’re passionate about guiding policies and bettering insurance involvement for physicians, you might want to consider a nonclinical MD job with an insurance company. Roles like these involve leveraging your medical expertise and experience by conducting remote chart audits, advising on policy creation and adjustment, clinical quality improvement,and assisting with clinical practice guidelines for patient care. If you are interested in working with pharmaceutical companies, you could also advise and support in the development of new drugs.

3. Medical surveys

Ever heard of paid medical surveys? It may not be a full career, but surveys are fast becoming popular in the medical industry as one of the easiest part time jobs for physicians. With your specialized knowledge about specific health topics and areas including pediatrics, cardiology, immunology and digital medicine, your opinion and experience are valuable and can give insights for healthcare development. So in return for your responses to survey questions set by government agencies and pharmaceutical companies, you can get paid without leaving the comfort of your home.

4. Healthcare consulting

If both insurance-based and private practice aren’t for you anymore, healthcare consultancy is a field in which you can allocate your time carefully and choose the exact types and amounts of patients you see. 40% of Sermo physicians indicated in a poll that they had worked in medical consulting as a secondary role. Healthcare consultants work at many different levels – including (but not limited to) in the hospital, for pharmaceutical companies, for government agencies and nonprofits. A physician with an MBA, or good understanding of business and management can help medical centers in developing transformational programs to increase reimbursements and improve the delivery of cost-effective quality care. If you have a specialty or niche field of interest, your expert advice is in high demand where outsourcing is needed. 

As a healthcare consultant you can provide medical advisory services for a variety of purposes from reviewing books and television scripts to providing business and operations related guidance to medical facilities and healthcare startups to assisting with recruitment of medical staff. You may also get involved with designing and starting up a new medical facility. With such gigs, you will have to collaborate with other professionals such as architects, engineers, real estate professionals and lawyers in order to build a medical facility. With healthcare consulting, the options are really endless!

5. Career coaching

Are you hoping to make a positive impact on the lives of future physicians in a tangible, direct way? Become a career coach! A lucrative non clinical physician job, career coaching allows you to directly mentor new graduates and young physicians hoping to break into their chosen specialty. This choice of MD career suits doctors who want to help grow their specialty and have years of experience on the inside.

6. Entrepreneurship

If you’re not looking for alternative jobs for physicians and want to stay within the clinic walls, why not consider owning your own practice? If you have motivation, the financial means to do so, and an entrepreneurial spirit, starting your own business can be an incredibly rewarding way to stay close to the profession and become a potential change-maker for other frustrated physicians. Become the boss you always wish you could have worked for!

Starting your own business doesn’t stop at owning a clinical practice, however. There are plenty of opportunities to create a medical start-up in the technology or financial spaces. An orthopedic surgeon could create a life-changing special shoe for patients, for example. A physiatrist could help develop exercise equipment used in rehabilitation centers. Or, you can reach outside of the medical industry entirely – the world is your oyster!

7. Expert witness or medical malpractice expert

As a former physician, the thought of taking part in a medical malpractice lawsuit probably sounds terrifying. However, your expertise could mean all the difference in assisting innocent physicians and helping ease the stress of a challenging case for them. Medical malpractice experts work with all kinds of cases on both sides. 

If you’re interested in the criminal justice system, and open to the idea of sitting through a trial, or even have a background in criminology or law, this could be the perfect non-traditional MD career for you. This opportunity can also be particularly lucrative if your opinion becomes sought after.

8. Telemedicine

This one might not be technically considered a nonclinical job for MDs, but it does offer a host of opportunities and a completely different change of pace to a traditional physician practice. Like consultants, telemedicine doctors have the opportunity to work only with the patients they want to see. This career path offers an enormous amount of flexibility, making it perfect for someone who is craving a greater work-life balance. 

These jobs can usually be done on your schedule, so you can vary your caseload day to day depending on your needs and other commitments. It’s also entirely possible to continue your practice in the clinic while taking on additional telemedicine jobs, if you have the bandwidth to increase your schedule without creating additional burnout for yourself. Some specialties such as psychiatry, can run entirely on telemedicine.

9. Lifestyle medicine

If you’re particularly passionate about preventative medicine and helping stop disease in its tracks, lifestyle medicine may be for you! Lifestyle physicians help patients optimize their diet, sleep, stress levels, substance consumption and many more things that can create better habits and potentially prevent disease before it starts. These physicians don’t treat life-threatening conditions, and it may help provide a change of pace for doctors who have worked in high-pressure environments previously. Many lifestyle physicians usually work as influencers online, using their medical knowledge to help spread awareness, or create evidence-based programs.

If you’re interested in complementary medicine, becoming certified in modalities such as acupuncture, massage, homeopathy or other practices could help enhance your practice and offerings. 

10. Science!

Some doctors are purely researchers, and if patient care is no longer part of your wheelhouse, you can be too. If you have a specialist area of practice or are passionate about advancing your interests into developing new treatments, you can pour your energy into medical science. If you have a lot of perseverance and interests in developing a product or piece of medical technology, becoming a modern-day physician inventor could help you become a change-maker in your industry.

11. Medical journalism and writing

If you have a flair for writing or a background in English or Journalism, medical writing can be a lucrative way for you to share your expertise and maintain a flexible schedule. Medical writers might write for webpages or email marketing, blogs, or product information and packaging. To assist with media, you can obtain a role as a consultant for newspapers, online medical websites, TV or radio. Having a regular column or place to write about your experiences may be an ideal transition into careers for doctors leaving medicine.

12. Health information technology

If you love technology then venturing into this field which is a key preoccupation of healthcare can be an alternative job for a physician. It forms part of the MD jobs that are nonclinical and they can provide technical advice to medical software developers. The beauty with this field is it’s broad scope and one can easily find an area of interest like Electronic Medical Records, Practice Management Software and Remote Patient Monitoring  

13. Sports science

There is nothing as good as a hobby that doubles as a source of income. For those that love sports, exercise medicine and musculoskeletal services are part time jobs for physicians. The doctors can work in sports training centers such as football clubs.

14. Pharmacovigilance/Drug safety

With medicine, there is still a lot of monitoring and reporting. Someone has to keep an eye on drug performance and safety and it could be you. Pharmacovigilance presents attractive non clinical jobs for MDs looking to get a taste of regulatory affairs. This career path appeals to those who enjoy monitoring, collecting, assessing and reporting medical information such as adverse drug events. As a former physician switching to a career in pharmacovigilance, your expertise will be very useful in making risk-benefit assessments of drug utilization. Your contributions and assessments can impact drug access at national and state levels.

15. Medical director

Medical directors are needed in pharmaceutical and health insurance companies and is an interesting career for doctors leaving patient care. The education and expertise gained over the years as a doctor is in high demand even in the corporate environment.

As a medical director in a health insurance company, you will oversee administrative activities and operations and be responsible for developing and approving health policies. In the pharmaceutical industry, medical directors are typically involved in new product development, overseeing clinical trials and developing study protocols. As a nonclinical physician working as a Medical Director in the pharmaceutical industry you will also provide clinical leadership and medical input as it relates to R&D, marketing, regulatory affairs and commercial development.

16. Medical affairs

Are you looking for a more dynamic nonclinical role within the pharmaceutical industry? Perhaps something that involves more active communication and interaction with other physicians? Then Medical Affairs may be an option to consider. Medical affairs intersects clinical development and commercialization. You will connect and communicate the science behind new drugs and medical devices with key opinion leaders and stakeholders. Working in Medical affairs means you will be the “medical face” of the pharmaceutical/biotech company you represent. This career path is best suited for MDs who enjoy communication, flexibility, have a strong business acumen and excellent relationship building skills. 

17. Social media/Physician influencer

There are social media influencers for almost every sector of life today from food to fashion to travel. Being a social media influencer as a physician is a lucrative side gig you can consider when transitioning to a nonclinical MD career. You can create a niche and use your social media platform to educate clinicians like yourself or to disseminate medical information to the wider public. Whichever way, with continuous effort and a growing audience, you can develop opportunities to monetize your content and social media presence. 

For more advice on how to expand, pivot or transition into alternative careers for doctors, why not reach out to those who’ve done it already? Doctors on Sermo regularly share their experiences and give tips on how to obtain nonclinical physician jobs. Doctors across the globe are waiting to help you make the most of your knowledge and passion today; joining Sermo only takes a few minutes to make it happen!

Want to earn some extra income while you transition jobs? Take paid physician surveys on Sermo whenever they are convenient for you.

Good luck in this next chapter of your career!