Thursday, December 31, 2009

Non-clinical opportunities for supplemental income

Some physicians spend many hours "moonlighting" to generate supplemental income for the household. There was a time when I did a fair bit of moonlighting myself. Many physicians are looking for creative, non-clinical ways to earn supplemental income. Here are some examples of ways you can generate some income in your spare time.
  • Medical writing. You can find some freelance/contract projects that have fixed durations (example: 3 months). You may also find some part-time writing projects that don't require extensive work experience as a formal medical writer.
  • Consulting. Some start-up companies are looking for physician consultants to provide some medical direction and guidance as they develop their business strategy. Other companies may need physicians to offer advice about clinical workflow issues, decision-making processes, health care administrative issues, etc.
  • Medical chart reviews. There are a growing number of companies that are paying physicians to review charts. Some chart reviews may be for medicolegal purposes. Other reviews may deal with claims and reimbursement. The world of "administrative medicine" is expanding quickly.
  • Tutoring and teaching. There are many opportunities to help college and medical students with test prep (MCAT, USMLE Step 1, etc.). Some students need some personalized attention, especially if they struggle with a learning disorder, ADHD, etc.
  • Blogging. Yes, blogging can generate supplemental income if you're creative and persistent.
You may also stumble upon some market research surveys that pay for your time (for instance, you'll see quite a few of these on Sermo). You may also choose to sell things on eBay, explore the world of real estate, or develop an online business where you're selling some type of product. If you've got an entrepreneurial spirit and you have some creative juices flowing in your head, then I'm sure you'll find many different ways to generate some supplemental income.

Growing interest in non-clinical career opportunities among physicians

How many physicians do you know who have chosen to leave their clinical practice? There's no doubt that physicians are getting burned out. Many are tired of fighting insurance companies and even more physicians are getting discouraged about reductions in reimbursement. This has caused some physicians to drop Medicare and Medicaid. Others have switched to cash-only or concierge/boutique practice models. Then you have your group of physicians who have simply decided to leave clinical medicine to pursue career options in the world of non-clinical medicine.

The vast majority of physicians are actually not aware of non-clinical career options beyond common examples such as working for a pharmaceutical company, being a consultant for a major consulting firm, or reviewing medical charts. Some physicians think about "administrative medicine," and they don't envision themselves being happy spending 100% of their time with administrative paperwork. For most physicians, the administrative component is the worst part of being a physician.

The reality is that there are a host of non-clinical opportunities for physicians who have a variety of interests beyond clinical medicine. The problem is that we don't learn about these opportunities during medical school. We don't go through non-clinical rotations during our clinical clerkships. Medical students and residents don't get paired with non-clinical mentors who can teach us about career options on the "business" side of health care. They don't learn about jobs in medical writing, market research, health informatics, or venture capital. They also don't learn how to enter the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry. When they start to look at various job posts, they see terms like "2 years of industry experience required." How can they break in if they lack formal industry experience? Where do they get started? Do they need additional training and education? Many physicians seem to have a common misconception that a formal degree in business is required if they wish to be successful in the non-clinical world. Some choose to pursue an executive MBA with hopes that they may venture off into the non-clinical sector someday.

As physicians get burned out they are looking for alternatives. Physicians are hearing a lot of discussion around health care reform, but little discussion about tort reform. As a result, many are feeling discouraged because their voices are not being heard by politicians and decision makers. In the setting of major health care reform, many physicians are anticipating that their workload will increase and their reimbursement will decrease. Should these physicians leave clinical medicine and pursue non-clinical career options? Who will end up providing medical care if physicians leave their clinical practice and choose to work for some type of health care company?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

41% of visitors to are from Internet search engines

This month, 41% of visitors were from Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Over the past several months, this number has consistently grown and I'm eager to see how this trend will change in 2010. The top keywords that people are typing to find this site are:
  • non clinical jobs for physicians
  • non clinical physician jobs
  • non-clinical careers for physicians
  • non-clinical physician jobs
  • non clinical careers for physicians 
We're observing a national phenomenon of physicians looking for alternative career options. More and more physicians are becoming interest in non-clinical opportunities so they can leave their clinical practice. 

If you're not already a member, I encourage you to join our social network of Non-Clinical Healthcare Professionals ( We have over 1,100 members and the majority are physicians, but non-physicians are also welcome to join and participate in our discussions about non-clinical job opportunities. 

CDC Medical Officer

Here's a public health job description for a CDC Medical Officer:

Title: Medical Officer, GS-602-13/14/15 (Direct - Hire)
Agency: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Department Of Health And Human Services
Salary: 87093.00 to 153200.00
Open Dates: 10/01/2009 to 03/31/2010
Pay Grade: GS-0602-13/15
Location: US-NJ-Throughout New Jersey (New Jersey )
The incumbent will provide medical advice and consultation on critical problems in the medical/public health field; evaluates the data collection, quality control and/or data utilization methods used to study a medical problem or issue; and applies new methods, approaches, and technology or extends, revises, and adapts existing methodology to new and unusual situations. He/She provides scientific and/or technical guidance to Federal, state, and local health-related organizations, private and public foundations, etc., in the development, extension and improvement of public health studies, programs, systems, strategies and/or services. Specialty areas for consideration and duties performed include but are not limited to: medical/scientific research of chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, reproductive health, infant morbidity/mortality, tobacco research, nutritional and physical activity, aging diseases and racial disparities in medical care/treatment; research in HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis treatment and prevention; and consultations on epidemiology and surveillance activities with Federal agencies, state and local health departments. Other areas and duties may include: promotes the development of field epidemiologic training programs; provides medical leadership for the implementation of integrated programs of epidemiology and surveillance; conducts research in toxicology and environmental health; and provides advice and consultation necessary to develop and execute specialized medical and epidemiologic studies or program evaluation related to vaccine preventable diseases. Conducts research/medical studies related to birth defects and other developmental disabilities/disorders; designs, directs, conducts, analyzes, and interprets epidemiological research focused on occupational respiratory and related diseases; designs, monitors, and evaluates surveillance data for bacterial vector-borne infectious diseases; and ...
Does this sound interesting to you? If you choose to work for the government, you may not get the highest salary (especially when you compare against private practice), but you'll get some great benefits. Notice the broad salary range listed for this job position. A salary range from $87k to $153k is huge!

Why do I blog about non-clinical jobs and careers for physicians?

You may be wondering why I blog about non-clinical jobs and offer career counseling services for physicians. Like many of you, I went to a well-respected college and a US medical school. I studied engineering at MIT and went straight into medical school upon graduating from college. When I was a medical student, I began to meet a variety of physicians who were leaving clinical practice and pursuing other ambitions. After recognizing that clinical medicine was not the “right fit,” I went on to explore my options in different non-clinical health care industries. By that time, I had gotten to know many physicians who had left clinical medicine to pursue jobs in industries such as: pharma, biotech, medical communications, consulting, medical writing, medical devices, market research, etc. Therefore, I was able to find non-clinical job opportunities relatively quickly because I knew what types of options I had and I also knew how to find these jobs. I leveraged my growing social network and landed my first full-time non-clinical job in a consumer health company.

Over the years, I’ve worked for several different companies that have allowed me to blend my clinical background with my passion for education and technology. I’ve had experience working with small companies, medium-sized companies, and large companies. I've been a salaried full-time employee and I've also consulted for several medical start-up companies. I’ve also had the opportunity to create my own company and learn about entrepreneurship. I am currently employed full-time in a medical education company and I spend my nights and weekends blogging and working with physicians who wish to transition into non-clinical careers.

I realize that many physicians do not personally know other physicians who work in non-clinical industries. Therefore, it may be difficult to know what’s feasible. Where do you get started? What kind of income could you make? Are you even qualified for certain jobs if you don’t have additional formal education or training beyond medicine? If you’re struggling with these types of questions, I believe I may be able to help you because I’ve had the opportunity to personally work with many physicians who have transitioned from clinical practice into full-time and part-time non-clinical positions. As they have encountered various questions and barriers along the way, we’ve navigated through all types of obstacles and challenge that you may also face as you look for non-clinical jobs.

Please note that I do not claim to be an expert about all the different non-clinical industries that are available. I routinely refer physicians to “subject matter experts” within specific industry domains. For instance, if you have very specific questions about the medical consulting industry, I would introduce you to a medical consultant who is willing to work with you and answer your questions about careers in that particular industry. I’ve personally had a significant amount of experience working in the following industries: medical communications, medical writing, health education, disease management, blogging, health IT, and medical consulting. I also frequently discuss topics related to social media and technology since I find that it improves your ability to get hired if you demonstrate that you’re familiar with these topics.

I also currently serve on the MIT Institute Career Advisor Network (ICAN) and also on the MIT Educational Council. I frequently speak with prospective MIT students, current MIT students and MIT alumni about career issues in the health care industry and I hope to have the opportunity to help you make a successful transition into the non-clinical sector.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Career Change Advice: The 10,000-Hour Rule (

According to this article on "It takes 10,000 hours of dedicated effort to become an expert performer in any field."

Dan Coughlin from The Coughlin Company attributes the conclusion above to the best-selling books “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell and “Talent is Overratedby Geoff Colvin as well as the new hit TV comedy series, Modern Family. Dan writes about his personal experiences as a consultant for 12 years and he says: "From these sources as well as my own 12 years of consulting work, I have found that the key to great performance can be summarized in three words: thought-filled practice. That comprises executing a simulation of the actual performance while consciously observing the outcome." Dan outlines the following "six steps of thought-filled practice:"
  • Select a role for which you have passion and strengths.
  • Identify the five critical aspects of that role.
  • Create simulations of the actual performance that let you focus on improving one or more of the role's critical aspects.
  • Gain relevant, timely feedback on the simulated performance from a skilled observer .
  • Consider the feedback and make adjustments.
  • Repeat steps three to five for 10,000 hours.
Does this also work for physicians who are seeking to change to a non-clinical career? Yes and No. One of the key challenges faced by physicians is this: Many physicians don't know enough about the types of career opportunities that exist out there. So, how can they apply these steps if they're not familiar with certain industries? Are you able to leverage your experience to be competitive in a new industry? Do you know how to present yourself on paper so that people will want to call you for an interview?

To read the article on, click here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Story Specialists: Doctors Who Write (on NPR)

Do you enjoy writing? Perhaps you'd like to publish a book. Fiction, nonfiction, or science fiction? I'd enjoy writing some science fiction stories someday. Doctors deal with unique circumstances like death, birth, terminal illnesses like cancer, and surgery. Who else knows what it feels like to be operating on someone's brain or to be holding an organ in your hand? Who else can write about the experience of reviving someone during a Code Blue situation?

On NPR, there's a story titled, "Story Specialists: Doctors Who Write." The story starts with:
It's not uncommon for writers to have a day job. Lawyers write. Soldiers and teachers write. But there seems to be a special connection between the medical profession and the art of writing. The list of doctors who are also novelists, playwrights and poets is long, and quite impressive: Anton Chekhov, William Carlos Williams, Walker Percy, W. Somerset Maugham and Arthur Conan Doyle, to name just a few...
You can have the opportunity to read some excerpts from these noted physician authors:
  • Abraham Verghese, MD, is a professor at Stanford University's School of Medicine and the author of the New York Times best-seller My Own Country: A Doctor's Story. Cutting for Stone is his first novel.
  • Terrence Holt, MD, PhD, is a specialist in geriatrics and a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. In the Valley of the Kings is his first book.
Click here to read the NPR story titled, "Story Specialists: Doctors Who Write."

Most popular physician non-clinical jobs and careers for 2009

In 2009, many physicians became highly motivated to leave the world of clinical medicine. Some of the most popular non-clinical jobs and careers that were discussed and researched among physicians interested in a career transition include:
  • medical writing (medical communications, medical education, consumer health, etc.)
  • health information technology (medical informatics, personal health records, data integration, etc.)
  • consulting (with a large consulting firm, a small company, or as an independent medical consultant)
  • pharma/biotech (despite all the job cuts, mergers and acquisitions, and restructuring, there are many jobs for physicians)
So, how does 2010 look compared to 2009? I think we'll still see a large interest in these 4 areas with a growing interest in health IT because of the Health IT or HITECH provisions within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). My prediction is that even more physicians will seek to leave clinical medicine and search for non-clinical careers. Perhaps you're thinking about a career transition but you're not sure when to make the switch. When the topic of "timing" is discussed among physicians, almost everyone unanimously voice that they wish they had made the transition sooner in their careers. If you're not happy with your current situation, perhaps it's time for a change. Maybe you need to be in a different clinical environment. Or, perhaps you need to leave medicine and pursue something entirely non-clinical.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some of my e-mails are being filtered as SPAM

I've been told by several of my readers that the e-mails I send from jkim (at) is being filtered as SPAM. I don't know why this is happening, but perhaps it's time for me to revert back to my Gmail account until I can resolve this issue.

If you've recently tried to contact me, please check your SPAM folder to make sure that my message did not get filtered.

On a similar note, it's also possible that your message may have landed in my Junk/SPAM folder. I've noticed this happening on occasion, so if you haven't received a response from me, please re-send your message. 

Reflecting back on 2009

2009 really has been an amazing year. So much has happened specifically on this site, including the following:
  • Discussions about major health care reform, which then led to...
  • A significant growth in non-clinical job/career interest among physicians, so...
  • We've seen an increased uptake in social media because...
  • Physicians want to connect with others who have successfully transitioned into non-clinical careers.
That's the major story of 2009. Many physicians who are eager to make a career transition have connected personally with other physicians who can mentor and guide them through the process. Others have received valuable career counseling services to learn how to make the transition and find the right opportunities.

As the economy continues to go through some major changes, I think we can anticipate that at some point we will see the economy improve and many corporate jobs will begin to re-appear. Will you be ready to take advantage of that opportunity to enter a non-clinical career? What if that recovery occurs in 2010? Will you be prepared with a stunning resume? Or will you have a resume that quickly gets moved into the "discard" pile?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Psychiatrists entering the pharmaceutical industry in the UK

Do you live in the UK? There are many opportunities in pharma. Back in 2003, there was an article published in the Psychiatric Bulletin titled, "Psychiatrists entering the pharmaceutical industry in the UK." It was an "Opinion and debate" piece that was written by the following individuals:
  • Peter Aitken, Lead Clinical Research Physician; CNS Medical Eli Lilly and Company Limited, UK and Ireland
  • David Perahia, European Physician - Neurosciences; Eli Lilly and Company Europe
  • Padraig Wright, Head of Clinical Neuroscience, Senior Lecturer (hon); Eli Lilly and Company Europe; Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London SE5 8AF
Here's how the story starts:
As a junior doctor, it can be extremely difficult to imagine a working life outside the NHS. Appointment to a consultant post brings some opportunity to practise medicine outside the NHS, but few contemplate a move to an entirely commercial setting. Those of us who have moved to work entirely in a commercial setting, as pharmaceutical physicians, tend to be regarded with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion by our peers and colleagues, who often reveal a great number of misconceptions about our roles and responsibilities. Yet, currently some 731 physicians are registered with the British Association of Pharmaceutical Physicians, with 25 recording psychiatry or neuroscience as their area of expertise. There are 1400 physicians registered on the mailing list for the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Physicians. It was through reflecting on the level of interest as to our motives and rewards that we were moved to write this article. To colleagues in the NHS, it can seem as if we have moved into an unknown and suspect world. This article aims to describe something of the role of the pharmaceutical physician and the initial experience of moving into the industry.
The interesting section is titled, "What skills are required?" The authors answer this question:
It is almost impossible to describe a typical week in the life of a pharmaceutical physician, such is the variety of the demands on time and the continuing revision of priorities. Skills in personal and group management, time management priority setting and problem solving are prerequisites for managing the constantly-changing scene. The first contrast with clinical practice is that for the most part there are no patients, although some companies will support a continuing clinical session once a week. Nevertheless, the demands of colleagues working to tight deadlines and agreed plans more than makes up for this, and the atmosphere is in many ways more urgent and pressured in its intensity than that in clinical psychiatry...
From an entry level position in a mid-to large-sized global pharmaceutical company, there opens up a range of career opportunities. These can be looked upon in a number of ways. On the one hand, there are routes for technical experts in science, therapeutic areas, regulatory areas or pharmaco-vigilance. On the other hand, there are routes for those interested in the commercial side of the business. Both require leadership and management skills. For the technical expert, skills in individual and project management are needed. For the commercial physician, it will be skills in managing people and groups. These skills can be obtained through time spent in a variety of posts in each of the relevant medical areas, supplemented on the commercial route by time spent in sales and marketing or corporate affairs. In-work experience is complemented by a personal development plan, incorporating courses appropriate to the learning need. The plans are worked on in a climate of managed supervision, in the context of a performance review structure.
Even though this article was published in 2003, I find that many of the point addressed in this paper are still relevant today. It's important to understand the corporate culture within the pharmaceutical industry. It's very different from the clinical world. Here in the United States, we really don't have anything like the National Health Service (NHS) yet. Perhaps a close example is the VA medical system. Or, maybe another example would be working in a health district. Regardless, I think we can all anticipate that change will occur in the American health care system and perhaps this will motivate more physicians to explore career alternatives outside of clinical medicine.

To read the entire Psychiatric Bulletin article, click here.

Catching up on phone calls and emails

Due to the holidays, I'm on vacation for the next week. Our company is actually closed, so everyone is on vacation. I'm taking my vacation at home since I have a newborn, but I also plan to use some of this time to catch up on some phone calls and e-mails. I've scheduled several calls with physicians who are eager to get started with an active job search in January. Others are making significant changes to their resumes and learning how to identify the right non-clinical opportunities.

If you've reached out to me and I've been slow to respond, I apologize and I hope you'll contact me again. I've had a number of e-mails go right into my SPAM folder, so it's possible I simply missed your e-mail. I'm currently actively engaged in coaching several physicians through a non-clinical career transition, so I've been quite busy. However, if you're seriously thinking about a career change in 2010 and you'd like to chat about the possibilities, I'd be glad to speak with you as my schedule permits.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Today is a very special holiday for me. I realize that Christmas is not celebrated by everyone, but to those who know the "reason for the season," Merry Christmas!

This holiday really isn't really about the gifts under the tree. Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who entered the world many years ago.

Wishing everyone warm holiday wishes this Christmas season. Don't forget to use the holidays to expand your social network. This is an opportune time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Would you blog if you got paid?

If you're a physician and you've been thinking about blogging, consider this question: "Would you blog if you got paid?"
  • What if someone was willing to pay you to write a blog? Would you do it?
  • How much would you need to make for blogging to be worth your time?
I blog for many reasons. Although financial remuneration has played a larger role in 2009, I used to blog for free. In fact, I spent several years blogging with no ads on my sites. I was blogging because it was my passion. Now, I still blog because it's my passion, but it's nice to get some supplemental income so that I can do some fun things and buy gifts for my family.

Working as a medical writer

How many professional medical writers do you personally know? If your answer is "none," then you need to meet some writers and learn more about this profession. I work with medical writers on a daily basis and I've met many different types of writers ranging from those who work on regulatory documents to those involved in consumer health education. I've also spent some time working in the medical writing industry myself and I've helped many physicians transition into a successful medical writing career.

The AMWA (American Medical Writers Association) is a great resource for physicians who are interested in the medical writing profession. Some of the more useful resources include the following:
  • AMWA salary surveys (how much do medical writers make?)
  • Webinar on the AMA Manual of Style
  • Freelance directory
If you're curious about medical writing, you may want to make the investment to join AMWA. It costs $145 to join and if you're a student, you can join for $45. Maybe I'll see you at a local networking event. To learn more about AMWA, visit:

Balancing school, work, and life (and blogging)

A few years ago, I was balancing school, work, and life. I was working full-time, taking graduate level courses part-time, and trying to be a good father/husband at home. I'm sure I could have shown improvement in many areas. I wasn't blogging very much back then.

Now, I'm balancing work, blogging, some side-work (call it some entrepreneurial ventures), and my family. If I choose to go back to school, then I'll be juggling work, side-work, school, and family. Is this even possible? Can you work full-time, take graduate level courses, blog, invest time in some entrepreneurial ventures, and adequately maintain a family? Something's going to give, right?

These are some of the issues that I wrestle with as I drive to work or exercise at the gym. My mind wanders to these questions: Should I go to business school? I'd really like to, but when's the right time? Am I spending too much time on something? How healthy is my work-life balance? Should I be investing so much time in some of my ventures? Am I being too ambitious? Am I spread too thin? Am I a workaholic?

Perhaps you've struggled with some of these issues. Maybe you need to make some significant changes in the New Year. The irony I face is that I have a non-clinical career and although this allows me to spend a great deal of time with my family, I find myself pursuing many other professional interests with some of that time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

MBA application essays

I've been speaking with many people who are seriously considering business school (B-school). I'm one of them. I've been researching some of the options in my area and I'm exploring various options based on my current status in life. I've been attending information sessions, listening to podcasts and business-related content on iTunes U, and networking with current students and alumni from local B-schools.

Over the past few days, I've been thinking about the essays that need to be written for B-school applications. Here are some essay question examples from a single application:
  • What is your career objective and what do you see as the next steps needed to achieve it?
  • How will this MBA Program for Executives contribute to your attainment of these objectives?
  • Why is this the right time for you to undertake this program?
  • Describe the most significant way, either in or out of your job, that you have demonstrated leadership.
  • In one of your MBA courses, you are given a case assignment to be completed in a study group comprised of six students. What is the most significant strength you would bring to the group process?
  • As 'The Ethicist' in the New York Sunday Times Magazine often demonstrates, many ethical dilemmas are fairly complex with gray areas making the decision path a challenging one. Give an example of one such dilemma and how you handled it.
  • While many factors (i.e. your academic background, the part of the semester you’re in) can influence the amount of time dedicated to the program, students have estimated that it’s approximately 20 hours/week. Given your already demanding job and the desire to remain committed to important family and personal obligations, how do you plan to handle this additional demand on you? (500 word limit)
How would you answer these?

If you're in the habit of blogging, then you may come up with answers very quickly. If you're in the habit of reading business journals and talking with business executives, then you may also have some good answers under your belt. However, if you're a typical physician and you've been in clinical practice for many years, then you may find yourself struggling to answer some of these questions unless you've been thinking about a non-clinical career transition for some time now.

Spending time with family

I work in a company that will be closed between Christmas and New Years. So, that means that I'll get to spend a lot of time at home with my family. I've been so busy lately, so I'm really looking forward to this time away from work. I love my day job and I also love my night job, but I love my family even more. I may not be the best example of someone who maintains a healthy work-life balance, but 2009 has been a year where I've felt like an entrepreneur in many ways and I've had to invest a tremendous amount of time and energy to launch and grow some different ventures.

I hope you'll have a wonderful time with friends and family this holiday season. I'll still publish an occasional blog post. If you're visiting this site for the first time, I hope you'll spend some time looking around and exploring the various resources on this site. Here is a link to a great place to get started.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How much money can you make blogging?

You've probably heard some people claim that they can make six figures by blogging. Is that true, or are these people blowing smoke? Since blogging income is dependent on advertisements and your traffic, it's very possible to make a large amount of money if you have a high volume of traffic on your blog. You won't generate that type of traffic overnight, but if you're creative, strategic, and persistent, then you may find that blogging is a great way to make some supplemental income.

Ads that target health care professionals like physicians often pay much more compared to standard consumer ads. Therefore, to make your blogging cost-effective, you should target a physician audience.
  • Do you have an idea that would capture a medical audience?
  • Are you willing to spend time writing about it?
  • Can you be creative so that you can refresh your content on a regular basis?
  • Do you have the stamina to persevere when you're not seeing any results?
Blogging can take a few hours a month, or it could take a few hours a day. It's totally up to you. To generate traffic, you need to have good content and a strategic way to market your site. Whether you're launching a corporate website or a personal blog, many of the same website promoting principles will apply if you want to be successful. You'll need to explore targeted advertising, search engine optimization, social media, and much more.

To learn more about blogging, I encourage you to read my posts on the topic of "blogging."

The physician in the pharmaceutical industry

What do we know about the role of a physician within the pharmaceutical industry? You probably never did an elective rotation where you could experience this life. You probably never had a chance to shadow a pharmaceutical physician. So how would you know?

Here's an abstract from an Acta Med Port article published in 1993 about "[The physician in the pharmaceutical industry]" (note: the title is in brackets because the original article was published in Portuguese.)

The physician's role in the pharmaceutical industry has changed over the past years. This change is a consequence of several factors, namely the evolution of the industry itself, the legislative and regulatory changes in this particular area, the development of medicine, new techniques and research, and finally the physician's needs. The changes that this activity has undergone not only create new stimuli for the physicians in the industry, but also new challenges and needs for the complete achievement of their career. This is a review article of the main functions and responsibilities of the physician in the pharmaceutical industry as well as the new challenges that this group of physicians faces. Finally, special attention is given to post-graduate courses and their relation with the academic structure.
Acta Med Port. 1993 Jul;6(7):361-5.
PMID: 8379357

I'm sure much has changed since 1993.  Probably one of the biggest areas is in communications and computing technology. Modern business executives are expected to carry smartphones (such as the BlackBerry) and respond quickly to urgent e-mails and other business emergencies. You'll be expected to also have a laptop so that you can work while you're traveling. These types of technologies (particularly the smartphone) were not nearly as ubiquitous back in 1993 compared to 2009. Modern laptops are much more sophisticated and you can do so much more on these mobile computers. You'll be expected to have strong computing skills so that you can be effective and efficient in the corporate world.

Social media update (for

Thanks to those of you who have plunged into the world of Social Media as it relates to this site

Here's a brief update as we look back at 2009 and get ready to dive into 2010:
  • Our "Non-Clinical Healthcare Professionals" member site ( currently has 1,091 members. Have you joined this exclusive social network? This free network started in May 2008 and we've grown this quickly! What does that tell you about the power of social networking?
  • Our Facebook fan page has 138 fans. Show your support for this site by becoming a fan. This fan page started in October 2009 as a social experiment and I've decided that the experiment was a success.
  • Our LinkedIn group currently has 76 members. This group was started on December 9 2009, so it's only been a few weeks. Let's see how this group grows in 2010. 
  • On Twitter, I (@DrJosephKim) have 24,722 followers. I started seriously using Twitter in April 2009 and it's been an amazing social media experience to grow my follower count through my blogs and my social networks. Do you Twitter? Or are you asking, "what's Twitter?"
Wow, 2009 has been quite a year! The URL was created in Feb 2009. Prior to that time, I was blogging about many different things on a single blog. In the early part of 2009, I decided to divide my blogs into 4 distinct blogs. I'm glad I did that and I'm sure my readers are glad as well. My blogs have grown tremendously in 2009 and I'm very eager to see what's going to happen in 2010. If you're thinking about starting a blog, now is a great time to start. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll reap the rewards and benefits associated with blogging.

If you're not leveraging social media, it's time to jump on the wagon and see what it's all about. If you're planning on switching careers, then the power of social networking can't be emphasized enough.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The pharmaceutical physician - requirements for the position

Here's another PubMed abstract that may be of interest to you if you're thinking about a career in the pharmaceutical industry. It's titled, "The pharmaceutical physician--requirements for the position." Now this paper was published in 1991 in the Eur J Clin Pharmacol. I'm sure many things have changed since 1991, but some fundamental principles are probably still the same.

Here's the abstract from the journal:
Physicians looking for a position as pharmaceutical physician are usually uncertain whether they are suitable for this activity by training and personal abilities. The main requirements are a major interest in therapeutics and research as well as the ability to treat a disease as an entity instead of the individual patient. The pharmaceutical physician is a specialist in the area of drug development. Even by treating populations and diseases his ultimate goal is to contribute to better care for the individual patient. Requirements for training and the personal abilities necessary for the position of a pharmaceutical physician are described and recommendations given for applicants.
Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1991;41(5):387-91.
PMID: 1761064

Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs (Forbes)

This month in our Members Section (, we're discussing the topic of entrepreneurship. Fortune Magazine recently name the "Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs." Several of these women work in industries that relate to health care. Let me highlight two of them with snippets from the article:
Billie Dragoo, Founder, president and CEO, RepuCare and RepuStaff. Dragoo took business classes at a nearby community college, then joined Century Personnel, a small recruiting firm in Carmel, Indiana. Focusing on medical staffing, she started RepuCare in 1995 with a partner. Operating out of Dragoo's home in Indianapolis, RepuCare provided therapists to hospitals and clinics to work on a temp basis.

Lisa Loscalzo, Co-founder and president, The Little Clinic. "Health care in a grocery store? Are you out of your mind?" That's what some people thought of the idea behind The Little Clinic, which runs 150 small, walk-in health clinics in Kroger and Publix supermarkets. While working in hospitals early in her career, Loscalzo saw people waiting for hours to get treated for simple illnesses like earaches and sinusitis. She also saw highly capable nurse practitioners being underutilized. So she helped found the Little Clinic, to bring both parties together at supermarkets, figuring that would be a convenient place for women, who often are the ones who get family members to the doctor.
Are you inspired to be an entrepreneur? Are you a risk-taker? Do you consider yourself to be visionary? To see the entire list of "Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs" on Fortune, click here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's great to reconnect with old friends and colleagues (social networking)

It's been great to reconnect with old friends and colleagues through social networking websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. It's hard to believe that college was really that long ago! Yet, I'm still reconnecting with classmates from MIT and even with some people from high school.

Have you been expanding your social network? As the world of social networking continues to expand, I find it fascinating to reconnect with people to discover that they have pursued some very interesting career paths. Many have chosen non-traditional careers in the world of health care. Several of my MIT classmates are physicians but they're also entrepreneurs or they're working in non-clinical sectors in various industries such as pharma, business, consulting, medical devices, writing, medical communications, etc. It's also great to reconnect with old friends who are now very active bloggers. I don't feel so alone!

If you'd like to expand your network, I encourage you to start by joining our Member Page ( Then, if you're on LinkedIn, make sure to join our LinkedIn Group. I look forward to connecting with you!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What are your career goals for 2010?

As we prepare for 2010, have you thought about your career goals for 2010? Will you make any significant changes? Perhaps you're considering a complete career transition. Maybe you'll decide to explore the world of non-clinical medicine in 2010 by attending some conferences, reading some books, and exploring sites like

If you're serious about making a career transition in the New Year, make sure you don't go through that process by yourself. The holidays is a wonderful time to reconnect with old friends, expand your social network, and explore various career opportunities that may be appropriate for you.

Personally, I'm very excited about 2010 because I see many new opportunities opening up. As I strive to balance work and my personal life, I know that I'll have to turn some of them down.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Career opportunities for physicians in the pharmaceutical industry

You don't see too many published articles on this topic. However, if you do a search on PubMed, you'll actually find a German article published in 2000 titled, "[Career opportunities for female and male physicians in the pharmaceutical industry]" - (note: the brackets are there because this is a translated title)

If you're interested in reading the abstract from Med Klin (Munich) then here it is:
INTRODUCTION: Pharmaceutical medicine is not only a mainstay in clinical drug development and marketing of drugs in pharmaceutical industry but also a challenging alternative to the clinic and outpatient practice for physicians. Since most of them have only a vague notion of what a career in this sector of industry involves, this paper attempts to display the scope of opportunities and responsibilities for physicians and to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

JOB PROFILES: Areas for physicians are preclinical research, clinical research, drug safety, biometry, scientific relations, marketing and sales departments, working as company physician, training of sales representatives, health policy and project management. Earnings, continued and postgraduate training, job changing as well as possibilities of information on a career in the pharmaceutical industry are described.

CONCLUSION: Despite the wide range of job profiles, a physician is still a physician in the pharmaceutical industry: his or her aim is to help patients and relieve their suffering through ethical and innovative therapeutic research. This aim is achieved through committed involvement in the development and marketing of new, effective and safe drugs.
So, do you think a lot has changed since 2000? How does this article apply to physicians in the United States?

Med Klin (Munich). 2000 Jun 15;95(6):322-6.
PMID: 10935416
You can review this PubMed abstract here.

Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine December 2009

If you're interested in careers in the pharmaceutical industry, then you may wish to stay current on pharmaceutical issues by reading Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine. You can read the digital version of the December 2009 version by clicking here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Leveraging social media to help physicians find non-clinical jobs

Here's a practical example of using social media to help physicians find non-clinical jobs. Let's review the list of social media tools/websites that can be valuable resources:
Now, how did I leverage these resources to help a physician find a non-clinical job? In this example, it went like this:
  • A female physician found this website by doing a search on Google for "non-clinical physician jobs." She wanted to balance the following: family life as a wife and mom; she wanted to leave clinical medicine and work from home; and she wanted to maintain some level of financial productivity by working part-time.
  • This individual reached out to me to get some personal guidance to find some non-clinical opportunities.
  • She became active on our social network (Non-Clinical Healthcare Professionals) and reached out to some physicians within the network to get some advice about different types of non-clinical opportunities.
  • She also leveraged other social networking websites like LinkedIn and Facebook and reconnected with her college and medical school friends and colleagues. She had lost contact with many of these people because she had become so busy working as a full-time physician (sound familiar?).
  • We soon discovered that one of her college friends was married to someone who works in a medical company and she reconnected with this individual through Facebook and Twitter. Through this individual, she was able to get an interview with a hiring manager and this led to a job opportunity.
  • She's now working from home for this medical company and doing some other contract-based work for several other companies.
Now, this simplified example is an illustration of a major key point: the importance of social networking. She may still be looking for work had she not reconnected with this college friend.

The other point is this: once you get your foot into the door and establish yourself as someone who has solid non-clinical experience, it becomes much easier for you to find additional non-clinical jobs.

Salary negotiation tips

Are you a strong salary negotiator? Many physicians are not in the practice of negotiating salary. After all, what percentage of physicians are salaried? If you're in private practice, then you may feel like you're pulling some teeth from insurance companies to get paid, but that doesn't automatically make you a good negotiator.

So how should you negotiate salary when you're transitioning into the non-clinical sector? has an article titled, "5 Ways to Negotiate Salary Requirements." This article has some solid tips that can be applied across any industry. However, the first point (Know what you’re worth in your geography) can be very difficult for physicians who are entering non-clinical industries. After all, do you know many physicians working for different types of companies? If you do, are you comfortable asking them about their salaries?

Websites like,, and provide good statistics on salary ranges for normal types of jobs, but physicians who work in companies are often filling atypical positions. Therefore, it can be a bit more challenging to evaluate your "worth" in the non-clinical industry.
  • How much does a "medical director" make in a pharmaceutical company?
  • What types of salaries can you expect if you work in public health?
  • How much does a physician "medical writer" make in a communications company?
  • What are the salary ranges for physicians working in government jobs?
  • How much does a physician consultant make in a large consulting firm?
Do you know where to look for this type of information? Don't risk being underpaid. Work with someone who can help you negotiate a fair salary based on industry-specific market value rates.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Webinar on patient education and adherence

I spent some time in the past working in a health IT consumer health company. We developed computer-based educational modules that were designed to motivate patients to change behavior, improve disease self-management, and learn why they should adhere to therapy. Sounds interesting, doesn't it?

Well, if you're interested in a career that involves some element of patient education and treatment adherence, then you may wish to participate in an upcoming free webcast/webinar titled, "Views on Patient Adherence." It's sponsored by Catalina Health Resource and the main presenter will be Paul Wilson, Analytics Group, Catalina Health Resource LLC. This is NOT a certified CME/CE activity, but you may still gain some useful insights from it.

Here's a brief description of this webcast:
Ensuring patient adherence to prescribed pharmaceutical therapy can play a significant role in improving the health of both individuals and the general public, and is essential to maintaining pharmaceutical brand market shares. This Webinar, led by Paul Wilson of Catalina Health Resources' analytics group, will present research on some of the demographic and psychological factors that should be taken into account when designing successful patient adherence programs. A case study based on predictive modeling in the hypertension market will demonstrate how to identify low adherence segments for patient education programs. Mr. Wilson will show how these results can be applied to other products and therapeutic areas and make recommendations on the most effective message content for both new and experienced patients.
Key Learning Objectives:
• Identify low adherence segments for patient education programs
• Develop effective messaging for both new and experienced patients

About Catalina Health Resource:
Catalina Health Resource reaches 125 million customers with 1.3 billion highly-relevant messages each year because of our longstanding relationships with the top pharmaceutical, over-the-counter and consumer package goods companies.

As the world's largest personalized health media network, our advanced data management makes it possible to create highly relevant messages based on the most likely needs of a patient. Most often, we deliver these messages via a printed PatientLink® every time a patient fills a prescription in one of the 17,000 pharmacies within our network.
To learn more about this upcoming webinar, visit this link.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Health Policy Fellowship

Are you interested in a career in health policy? Have you considered formal training through an academic fellowship? You may be interested to know that some medical schools offer a health policy fellowship for primary care physicians. Here's an example from the UMDNJ - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School:

his program is a unique, practical opportunity for family physicians, as well as other primary care physicians, to learn how state health policy is developed, and how laws and regulations governing health care are crafted, negotiated and implemented. Applicants are typically interested in health policy-making and in influencing the political process as it relates to health care.

The health policy fellow serves as both aide and advisor to the Chairperson of a New Jersey State Legislative Health Committee. The fellow has a unique opportunity to obtain hands-on experience informing the policymaking process. An emphasis is placed on the rigorous, day-to-day aspects of the legislative process in the dynamic environment of the State House. The health policy fellow is called upon to: critically evaluate legislation; prepare briefs and reports; advise members of the State Legislature; research complex health care problems; devise legislative solutions; interact with and assist constituents with health care concerns and problems; and represent the legislator's views at meetings and functions. Upon conclusion of the fellowship, the participants have developed a practical and comprehensive understanding of the legislative process and health care policy in New Jersey.

This fellowship is offered jointly by the Department of Family Medicine at UMDNJ - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Faculty preceptors include the health policy faculty in the Department of Family Medicine and the executive staff of the University Hospital. The current Chairpersons of the Senate and Assembly Health Committees serve as the direct supervisors of the fellows.

You can learn more here:

Monday, December 14, 2009

A pharmaceutical physician job description

If you're a physician and you're looking for jobs in pharma, here's a job description you may see on the Internet (I've intentionally omitted certain details):

Basic Qualification
Physician with US board certification (or equivalent) in internal medicine or clinical pharmacology.

The main focus of this role will be to provide medical guidance and medical monitoring of clinical pharmacology, studies involving both early and late development oncology assets. This will involve developing close working relationships with colleagues in various early and late-stage, clinical oncology drug development programs, project management and clinical operations.
  • Contribute to the development and finalization of protocols, protocol amendments, review of study data, and finalization of clinical pharmacology study reports
  • Contribute to clinical pharmacology goals and strategies
  • Manage external influences on projects (collaborators, opinion leaders etc.)
  • Actively participate in the development of scientific talent in the organization.
  • Provide guidance and coaching to team members.
  • Ability to travel 10% of the time
Requirements: Preferred Qualification:
  • Evidence of excellent medical and scientific judgement
  • Knowledge of clinical pharmacology and oncology is desired
  • Understanding of drug development in the pharmaceutical industry, Good Clinical Practice, and regulatory processes, (U.S. and International)
  • Ability to operate in a complex, matrixed organizational environment
  • Strong oral & written communications skills
  • Management and leadership ability in direct line and matrix situations plus excellent interpersonal skills
  • Alignment with and commitment to (company x) vision and goals
Does this sound interesting to you? Do you qualify? Do you notice that it does not indicate that you must have x number of years working in pharma? I'm sure that would be desirable, but you may be able to demonstrate that you qualify for this job even if you've never been employed by a pharmaceutical company. If you're thinking about this type of pharmaceutical physician job, you may want to search for "Physician Clinical Pharmacology."

Company strategic planning meeting today

I'm off-site for an all-day company strategic planning meeting today. We're meeting to discuss important issues that are likely to impact us next year. Do you meet with your staff to plan for the new year?

Speaking of corporate meetings: you can plan to be involved in many meetings if you work in a company. If you're a practicing physician, you may not have too many formal meetings with coworkers or staff. however, if you're employed in a company, then you'll be pulled into meetings all the time. In fact, there will probably be days when you feel like you're in too many meetings. It's hard to get your work done if you're in meetings all day.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Health insurance jobs

Do you think that jobs in the health insurance industry are increasing or decreasing? Given all these recent discussions about the public option and universal health care coverage for the United States, I think there are several different forces at work. We see some companies offering cheap health insurance. So what's happening with jobs in the health insurance industry?

On one hand, managed care employees are leaving their companies to look for work in different industries. I personally know many physicians, nurses, and pharmacists who have chosen to leave a career in the health insurance industry so that they can pursue opportunities in other industries such as consulting, legal medicine, quality improvement, medical education, etc. Why are they leaving? Some fear they may lose their jobs if a public option comes about. Others are tired of working in the health insurance industry. So, in that sense, health insurance jobs may be opening up (assuming that the insurance companies are maintaining those empty positions).

There's another dynamic: health insurance care companies may be eliminating positions and reorganizing. Some may be restructuring in anticipation of facing a public option. Others may be reorganizing due to various budget cuts, decreased revenues, etc. After all, we're in a recession and unemployment significantly impacts the availability of company-sponsored health benefits. Even if you sign up for COBRA, you won't have health coverage forever. Speaking of COBRA and health insurance, have you tried looking for cheap health insurance? It's becoming more difficult to find affordable health insurance these days. The Internet is probably your best source for finding cheap health insurance. You can compare prices and plans very easily.

Going back to school to pursue a non-clinical career

It's rather ironic, but there are non-clinical people going back to school to find clinical jobs (such as nursing, nursing assistant, pharmacy, pharmacy technician, radiology technician, etc.) and there are clinical people going back to school to find non-clinical jobs (such as consulting, health care business, administration, medical management, etc.). Wow, that was quite a full sentence, wasn't it?

Let's try it again: I know clinical people who are going back to school to pursue non-clinical jobs, and I also know many non-clinicians who are going back to school to pursue health care careers.

Maybe you've thought about going back to school. Maybe you're thinking about it right now. Are you looking at full-time programs? Part-time? Online? I know business executives who are applying to part-time nursing schools. I also know other executives interested in various part-time and full-time health care programs. Are you willing to work full-time and take courses part-time? That's one way of going back to school while maintaining your income.

However, maybe the big question to ask is: do you really need to go back to school? Are you a health care professional? Maybe you're thinking about business school to get an MBA. I've also recently spoken with physicians interested in public health and medical informatics and they are exploring graduate programs in those fields (MPH and MS in medical or biomedical informatics). So, how about you? Do you plan to go back to school to pursue a different career? Gift Card for the unemployed

I'm an avid rock climber, but isn't about rock climbing. It's a website that offers online services for unemployed individuals looking for jobs. I'm sure we all know people who are looking for jobs. This holiday season, we have an opportunity to help these individuals in different ways, from helping them expand their social to providing them with resources that may help them find jobs. is an online service that helps people advance their careers. walks them through the steps necessary to create a powerful Personal Brand that gets them the exposure they need. They are then automatically networked with recruiters and hiring managers who can help them advance in their career.

There is no better gift this holiday for your unemployed loved ones than the Gift Card. Long gone are the days of frivolous gifts. This season's gift buyers are more inclined to buy gifts with high utility. CNBC reported that the U-6 (the combination Unemployed & Under-employed ) unemployment rate was 17.5%. There is no higher utility that helping advance a loved ones career. So this year, pass on the sweaters or gadgets for the holiday season, and literally give the Gift of Opportunity to help your loved ones achieve lasting career success.

The Gift Opportunity packages focus on:

* Developing your loved one's professional Personal Brand for a career search
* Create an online, fully Search-Engine-Optimized Career Profile to help showcase his/her skills and interests so that recruiters can recruit them
* Market your loved one's Brand exclusively to the recruiters and managers at his/her ideal companies
* Showcase your loved one's profile to companies he/she may not have considered-but who are a perfect match for his/her unique career goals
You can see an example of an Online Career Brand by clicking here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

AMA Manual of Style

If you're thinking about careers in the medical communications industry (either as a medical writer or medical director), make sure you're very familiar with the AMA Manual of Style. The American Medical Association (AMA) released its first editorial manual in 1962 for scientific journals. We're now up to the 10th edition. Here's a little snippet that describes some of the updates included in the 10th edition:
Throughout the book, there is an increased international scope and recognition of the changes in the scientific publishing field associated with advances in technology, the Internet, and the electronic evolution of writing, editing, and publishing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The joys and challenges or working from home

I've worked from home in the past. I still work from home from time to time. However, I'm primarily in the office for my non-clinical day job as a medical director of an education/publishing company. I work from home when I'm involved in freelance/contract consulting jobs, blogging, (yes, blogging is work), career counseling, etc. I call it "moonlighting at home" and I try to balance work/life carefully.

There are certain joys and challenges of working from home that one must consider before choosing this path. My intent is not to compare self-employment vs. salaried employment. Many salaried employees work from home as telecommuters. I'm simply looking at the concept of working from home, whether you do this 5 days a week or 1 day a month. Let's take a look at some of them:

  • Extreme flexibility. You can set your own hours (unless you're simply a telecommuter). You can work in your pajamas. I think you get the picture.
  • More time with family. It may not be as rosy as you think. If you're really to be productive while you're working at home, then you'll probably need to be in an office where you're not interrupted. However, even if you set strict boundaries, you can still spend more time with your family if you take breaks for lunch, snacks, etc.
  • Less time in the car (train, or bus). This translates to savings on gas/commuting fees/parking/etc. Also, you now have time to exercise and do other things instead of traveling to and from the office.
  • More privacy. If you're working in a company, your privacy can be limited. Suppose you're in a cubicle and all your colleagues can listen to all your phone conversations. You may have very little privacy. If you set up an office at home, you can control your privacy.
  • Increased productivity. You may not believe it, but studies have shown that disciplined people who work at home are more productive than when they're in the office. You will probably have fewer interruptions and meetings if you're at home compared to the office. As a result, you can get much more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Difficulty managing others. If you're in a position where you're expected to manage others, this can be much more challenging if you don't interact with these individuals face-to-face.
  • More distractions. Are you disciplined? Or are you easily distracted? When you're at home, you're surrounded by more distractions (TV, kids, chores, etc.), so you need to know yourself really well so that you can evaluate whether it makes sense to work from home. If you're easily distracted, then your productivity will obviously suffer and you place yourself at risk for job loss and unemployment.
  • Limited brainstorming sessions. If you're not interacting face-to-face with your colleagues, it can be more difficult to have effective brainstorming session where you're writing on a whiteboard, drawing diagrams, using hand gestures, etc. Modern video conference call technology and tablet computing may overcome many of these barriers but nothing replaces the true face-to-face interaction.
  • Isolation and less personal connections. Let's face it. When you're in an office, you can chat with people casually and learn about their personal lives. As a result, you can get to know your fellow colleagues really well. If you're at home, you're more isolated. It's more difficult to really get to know your colleagues or your boss.
  • You're always working. Many people who work at home have a difficult time separating work and home. As a result, you're always working. Your family may eventually accept that, but you could also get burned out. Sometimes it's much healthier to leave work at work so that you never bring work home. However, if you're working at home, then your work is right in front of you all the time.
So, what do you think? Should you work from home? Have you ever tried it? Are you disciplined? Will it interfere with your work/life balance? If you thought that working from home would be "ideal," then perhaps you need to give it another thought.

In general, it can be more difficult to secure a new job as a telecommuter unless you have a proven track record of being an effective telecommuting employee.

Have you considered Medical Tourism?

I never learned about medical tourism during medical school. Did you? Some may argue that medical tourism is one of the hottest medical trends to hit the globe. This week's BusinessWeek journal has a special advertising section labeled, "Health care gets the private treatment." It's about medical tourism.

What is medical tourism? Well, let's see what Wikipedia has to say:
Medical tourism (also called medical travel, health tourism or global healthcare) is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of traveling across international borders to obtain health care. It also refers pejoratively to the practice of healthcare providers traveling internationally to deliver healthcare. Services typically sought by travelers include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries.
So why is this so appealing? Why is this such a hot medical trend?

Part of the reason is because medical care can be quite expensive in the United States, but you may be able to get the same procedure for less somewhere else. Also, if you don't want to wait for your MRI or other diagnostic study, maybe you'd prefer to travel somewhere, enjoy a nice vacation, and get your long-awaited MRI. Some are predicting that medical tourism could jump tenfold over the next decade. So, there are many business opportunities in this space and I don't get the sense that the field is saturated (yet).

If you're an entrepreneur, then perhaps you'd like to consider a business in the medical tourism industry. Be cautious. The illegal purchase of organs and tissues for transplantation have been alleged in certain countries and some argue that there are many ethical issues that must be considered when you think about medical tourism.

Pros and Cons of using a professional resume writer

I've seen many physician resumes and I've noticed many common elements among all these resumes. Here are 3 common elements:
  • First, physicians generally tend to list their positions. Who needs to provide a description if your position was: "private practice family physician" for 10 years? People in the medical community automatically understand what that means. As a result, physicians rarely provide descriptive examples that illustrate what they accomplished during their clinical careers.
  • Next, physicians often do not know what to emphasize when they are transitioning into a non-clinical career since most physicians lack industry work experience. They may wish to highlight that they are effective at communication, but how to you say that on your CV? "Effective communicator?" How about "Strong communication skills?" These phrases are too vague.
  • Finally, many physicians are simply not effective when they are writing about their skills, talents, and capabilities that are relevant for specific non-clinical careers. They may be extremely intelligent and eloquent speakers, but their writing skills often need improvement when it comes to their resumes.
I've clearly made some gross generalizations here, but I think you get the idea. So, should they work with a professional resume writer?

Here are some of the Pros and Cons of using a professional resume writing service (this is not meant to be exhaustive):

  • Organization and format. A professional resume writer may help them improve the organization and the format of the resume.
  • Effective communication. A professional can help them effectively communicate skills and capabilities in writing.
  • Content. A professional can help you focus on relevant content and filter out content that may not be relevant.
  • Efficiency. A professional will probably save you time since they are more efficient. If you're too busy to rewrite your CV, then maybe you should pay someone to do it for you.
However, here are the Cons:
  • Cost. A professional resume writer can be very expensive. On, you can expect to pay around $700 for professional resume writing services if you enroll in their premium UpLadder services (which runs around $15-30/month). Other professional resume writers may charge $500 to over $1,000 for their services.
  • Limited experience with physician career changers. A professional may not be experienced working with physicians who are changing careers. They may be great for physicians who are looking for other types of medical jobs, but the minute you switch gears into the non-clinical world, it's a totally different game when you're working with career changers.
  • Uncertainty about the return on your investment. The term "professional" can mean different things when you're a resume writer. How will you be able to judge the effectiveness of the professional you hire? After all, they won't be providing any type of guarantee that you'll get a job if you use their services.
  • A single perspective. A single writer will give you a single perspective and you may end up focusing on the wrong elements if you rely on a single writer.
Resume writing is an art, and I've found that some of the most effective ways of revising a resume is to receive some coaching from HR (human resources) professionals who evaluate resumes on a routine basis. If you don't have the communications skills to rewrite your CV, then you should definitely get some professional help. Otherwise, you may wish to invest your time to get some personalized career coaching so that you can focus on finding the right types of non-clinical job opportunities that best fit your career goals. A mentor could really help you tailor your CV for each non-clinical opportunity that you wish to pursue.

If you've had positive or negative experiences working with a professional resume writer (or writing service), then I'd welcome your comments on this topic.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Become a featured member on

You can become a featured member on our social network "Non-Clinical Healthcare Professionals" by participating in our forums, posting your own blog posts, and being an active member.

Each month, I will feature a handful of registered members. You can increase your visibility on the network by uploading a photo, updating your profile, and networking with others within the network. I encourage you to participate, meet others, and leverage this resource that now features over 1000 members!

Each month, I will also feature a topic for discussion in the Forum section. This month, the topic is "entrepreneurship" and I'm eager to hear what others have to say. I was chatting with someone the other day about the idea of pulling together some physician entrepreneurs so that we can openly share ideas, so you can expect to see something about that over the next few months.

HIMSS10 Physicians' IT Symposium

HIMSS = Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society

The HIMSS10 Physicians' IT Symposium is coming up quickly! The theme is "What it Means to Be a Meaningful User." The Physicians' IT Symposium will be a full day meeting on February 28, 2010. Here's what you can expect to cover that day:

A message from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT regarding:
• ARRA Funding
• Quality
• Safety
• Meaningful Use
Real-world discussion focusing on meaningful use adoption
Issues surrounding malpractice liability in the use of EHRs, PHRs and HIEs
Tough questions you need to ask your IT vendor

The HIMSS10 conference will start March 1 and run through the 4th in Atlanta, Georgia. If you're seriously considering a career in health IT, then you should attend HIMSS (you can receive CME credit while you're there) to learn, network, and explore career opportunities in the health IT industry. The early bird registration fee ends on December 15 (wow, that's only a few days away).

Here's a list of some of the featured speakers:
Opening Keynote Address:
Quality, Safety and Meaningful Use in Healthcare Technology: A Message from ONC
David R. Hunt, MD, FACS
Chief Medical Officer and Acting Director Office of Health Information Technology Adoption Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT

What You Need to Know About Your EMR Vendor: The Right Questions to Ask
Adam Gale
KLAS Enterprises, LLC
Mark Wagner
Director of Ambulatory Research
KLAS Enterprises, LLC

Dealing with Malpractice Liability in the use of EHRs, PHRs and HIEs
Howard Burde, JD, FHIMSS
Howard Burde Health Law LLC

Clinical Decision Support and Meaningful Use: Requirements, Enablers and What you Should Do Now
Jonathan Teich MD, PhD, FHIMSS
Chief Medical Informatics Officer Elsevier

How to "Meaningfully" Protect Privacy Without Harming Patients
Eric M. Liederman, MD, MPH
Director of Medical Informatics
Kaiser Permanente

Clinical Information Exchange
Robert E. White, MD, MPH
Medical Director of Clinical Informatics Lovelace Clinic Foundation
ABQ Health Partners

Meaningful Use: Protecting the Public's Health
Raymond D. Aller, MD, FCAP, FHIMSS
Director, Automated Disease Surveillance
County Department of Public Health

Facilitated Open Discussion
William F. Bria, MD
Shriners Hospitals for Children
You can learn more about the upcoming HIMSS conference by visiting:

What if you're overqualified?

Physicians are often overqualified to hold certain positions in the business world. At the same time, physicians are often underqualified for certain non-clinical jobs because they lack experience within certain industries. They often find themselves ironically stuck in the job search process because they're simultaneously overqualified and underqualified.

It's easier to change the problem with being underqualified because you can gain experience and eliminate that barrier over time. However, if you're overqualified, then you may face certain obstacles that you may not be able to overcome. So what can you do?

There are a few creative ways to approach this problem. First, you should revise your CV to avoid problems that may be associated with age discrimination. You need to be truthful in your CV, but you're not always going to be obligated to provide information such as your college graduation year. That information could lead to age discrimination and could hinder your opportunity to find jobs because hiring managers may automatically think that you're overqualified.

Another option is to explore unconventional positions that may never get advertised. Perhaps a company may create a position for you. Perhaps there's a way to leverage your experience with your other skill sets so that you can become a valuable asset to a company. Are you able to communicate your value proposition?

Finally, you should remember that you may appear to be overqualified on paper, but if you can get an interview, you now have the opportunity to tell your story and convince hiring managers why they should hire you even though you may appear to be overqualified. You have to know how to address the concerns they may have about hiring someone who's overqualified (if you're not familiar with those concerns, then stay tuned because I'll write another article on that topic. Or, you may wish to do some research so that you can confidently address those concerns).

I've been in both roles: the one being hired and the one doing the hiring. I know what it's like to encounter questions regarding "overqualification." I've also seen many examples where we've interviewed individuals who appeared to be overqualified on paper. If you're not sure how to handle these types of obstacles, consider working with a career counselor who can mentor you through that process.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Join our LinkedIn Group "Non-Clinical Healthcare Professionals"

Since LinkedIn is a leading professional social networking site, I decided to start a group on LinkedIn called "Non-Clinical Healthcare Professionals" on LinkedIn. This is a group ONLY for people who have a profile on LinkedIn. To join, click here.

If you're not using LinkedIn, I encourage you to join and create a free profile. It's a great place to find jobs, meet recruiters, and establish networks with people who may be able to help you find opportunities.

Consider the LinkedIn group a subgroup of our main networking group "Non-Clinical Healthcare Professionals" which can be found here:
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