I've met many medical students considering the non-clinical path. The infamous question that always seems to come up is: "What types of non-clinical jobs can I get if I don't do a residency?"
The answer is that it really depends on many other factors. The question is not a simple one, since if you're interested in the business/finance side of the world and have an MBA with some real-world work experience, then you may be fine without doing a residency. In fact, many very successful people have gone that direction.
However, if you don't have an MBA and you don't have any real-world work experience, then it may be more difficult (but certainly not impossible) to find some really promising careers that align with your goals and interests. This will largely depend on your geography, your flexibility, and your willingness to learn new things and to explore your talents and capabilities.
Ask yourself a few things:
- Are you absolutely certain that you don't enjoy clinical medicine? It may be much more difficult to go back to a residency later in your life. Have you explored Preventive Medicine/Public Health? Have you considered part-time work? To get to some of the best opportunities, you may need to start in a clinical career, get some experience, and then transition out of clinical medicine.
- How important is salary? I realize that it may seem superficial, but it's very practical if you have loans, a family, etc. If you have another source of income or if you're married and your spouse makes plenty, then you're in a totally different category when you're looking for work. This is why some people love part-time or even freelance jobs where they can work from home.
- What do you really enjoy? Some love/hate business. Some love/hate writing. At the end of the day, your work/life balance may be the most important thing to you. After all, if you have the opportunity to pursue a clinical career, the main reason driving you away from that must be because you don't enjoy that type of work.