Healthgrades for Professionals

7 Career Options for Doctors Outside of Clinical Practice

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  • Tired of clinical practice? Doctors may leave direct patient care for many reasons, such as wanting a more manageable work-life balance or feeling burned out.

    This doesn't mean all those years of medical training are for naught. Many non-clinical physician careers exist that can make use of your valuable knowledge, experience and talents. First, consider your goals—why you want to leave and what you hope to achieve—and then see whether any of the following jobs might be a match. Some might surprise you.

  • 1
    Medical Consultant
    Man in suit explaining documents to doctor in medical office

    Medical-adjacent companies need physicians to prescribe solutions for all sorts of problems. Health insurers need medical consultants to advise on policies, coverage guidelines and utilization management, or to conduct medical chart reviews. Medical technology or informatics companies could use a doctor's eye to help determine the feasibility or design of new devices or apps. Hospital systems, physician groups, nonprofits, and government agencies all need consultants. Average pay for medical consultants: $110,410 annually, up to nearly $200,000. Best-paying states: Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut and Oregon.

  • 2
    Pharmaceutical Physician
    Doctors on a handshake during conference / meeting

    Pharmaceutical companies need physicians in many capacities. If you have a research bent, you could help with drug development. Perhaps you are more into exercising your business and marketing skills. Pharma companies need someone with medical training to help determine how best to target, deliver and promote their products. You also could review educational materials that describe medications for clinicians or the public to ensure they are accurate. Full-time pharmaceutical physicians make an average of $125,440 annually, according to ZipRecruiter. Some make as much as $277,500.

  • 3
    Forensic Medical Examiner
    Medical Examiner with corpse in morgue

    Though the subject matter may be grim, working as a forensic medical examiner can provide its own unique rewards. To get into the field, examine regulations for your state. Forensic pathologists, coroners and medical examiners all use medical knowledge to examine dead bodies and determine cause of death, but coroners in some states are elected, so you might have to run for office. You also might need additional pathology certification in some places. The average medical examiner makes $101,472, with a high of $302,000, per Payscale.

  • 4
    Physician Life Coach
    Doctors talking together outside hospital on concrete bench

    As a doctor, you're familiar with the profession's challenges and likely know some coping strategies. As someone considering leaving clinical practice, you may have gained insights into how to make career decisions. Physician life coaches use this type of knowledge and insight to help advise doctors about professional and personal challenges. If you'd like to become a physician life coach, non-mandatory physician coaching certifications are available.(The Physician Coaching Institute, for example, offers a six-month training program.) Or, you can hang out your shingle without them. Average pay: $103,994, with a high of about $276,000, says ZipRecruiter.

  • 5
    Medical Educator
    Late 30s Caucasian woman at lectern speaking to audience in auditorium

    Colleges and universities in your area may be in search of qualified faculty to create or teach medicine-related courses, either on a full-time or part-time basis. You might also be able to do research in addition to teaching, if you become a faculty member of a research university. Or you could teach at the community college level. If you're looking for something with flexible hours that can be done remotely, consider teaching online courses. Another medical education need: continuing medical education (CME). You could develop content, teach or serve as scientific or medical director for a CME firm.

  • 6
    Expert Witness
    Asian American man testifying in court being questioned by African American male lawyer reviewing document

    You can get paid to use your medical expertise in malpractice proceedings. Both physicians and patients need medical experts to review cases and testify as to whether treatment was appropriate. If you are comfortable defending and explaining your position in a courtroom setting, you may wish to consider exploring a career as a medical expert witness. SEAK, a firm that trains expert witnesses, says the median hourly fee for medical expert witnesses is $500 per hour; upfront retainers average $2,000 and hourly fees to review medical files are $350.

  • 7
    Health Writer, Blogger or Podcaster
    Woman broadcasting from radio station or doing podcast

    Health publications, such as consumer or industry magazines and websites, can use expert content provided by doctors. (Some even hire doctors to edit and review content submitted by non-physician writers.) You could also write blogs or books about healthcare topics. Podcasting is another way to reach people with your health messages. Some doctors are especially good on camera and appear on TV news shows or talk shows, which can further raise awareness and sell books or other health-related writings (such as online courses).

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians. Non-Clinical Careers (SEAK). https://www.nonclinicalcareers.com/coaching-for-physicians-new-career-path/
  2. Outside the Fold: Exploring Nonclinical Work Opportunities for Physicians. New England Journal of Medicine Career Center. https://www.nejmcareercenter.org/article/outside-the-fold-exploring-nonclinical-work-opportunities-for-physicians/
  3. Alternative Career Ideas for Burned Out Physicians. The Wheel. https://www.wheel.com/blog/alternative-career-ideas-for-burned-out-physicians
  4. Medical Consultant Overview. Zippia. https://www.zippia.com/medical-consultant-jobs/
  5. Pharmaceutical Physician Salary. ZipRecruiter. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Pharmaceutical-Physician-Salary
  6. Average Medical Examiner Salary. Payscale. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Medical_Examiner/Salary
  7. Physician Coach Salary. ZipRecruiter. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Physician-Coach-Salary
  8. Expert Witness Fees: How Much Does An Expert Witness Cost? SEAK Expert Witness Directory. https://blog.seakexperts.com/expert-witness-fees-how-much-does-an-expert-witness-cost/