Wednesday, December 30, 2009

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.


  1. Alternative career conferences, consultants and blogs about non-clinical career development are blossoming to accomodate what appears to be a growth in demand from docs who are looking for something different. There are lots of reasons why this is happening and it's unclear to me whether this is a blip, a short term trend or a permanent change in thinking. Has the "thermostat" been reset?

    Only time will tell, but I predict we will see several outcomes as a result of changes in student and resident thinking:

    1. A larger percentage of practitioners will leave practice to do something else before they retire. It would be interesting to know that number now.
    2. A larger percentage of medical students will graduate will little or no intention of practicing medicine. Half of law school graduates never practice law.
    3. Medical students will demand changed in the curriculum to accomodate their needs. The medical educational establishment will resist claiming their role is to train clinicians, not business people or bloggers.

    Be interested in your thoughts.
    Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA
    Professor, University of Colorado
    Society of Physcian Entrepreneurs

  2. Arlen,
    Thanks for your comments. I agree that even more physicians will choose to leave clinical medicine, especially as we face major changes in the health care system through reform measures such as the "public option." We have all the ingredients in motion to see a huge tidal wave in this area over the next few years.