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10 Nontraditional Jobs for Physicians

By Jennifer Larson, contributor

Had enough of traditional medicine for a while? There are some alternatives.

Many physicians find themselves drawn to nontraditional jobs that still make good use of their medical degree. Check out our list to see if one of these jobs might be right for you.

FIND physician jobs that fit your professional and personal goals. 


10 Nontraditional Physician Jobs

1. Physician coach
Do you derive satisfaction from working with other doctors or clinicians? Do you think you could help them develop their skills or make changes to avoid burnout and fully enjoy their careers? You could become a physician coach, working within a healthcare organization or as an independent consultant. Regardless of the setting, physician coaches are dedicated to helping other physicians manage their careers, their reactions to challenges and stress, and to set goals for the future. 

2. Physician entrepreneur

Have a great idea? Ready to throw yourself into the launch? You’ll never know where your entrepreneurial spirit could take you unless you give it a whirl.

Amy Baxter, MD, went from practicing as a pediatric emergency physician to the CEO of her own company, Pain Care Labs. She started out by applying for a small business grant, but she had to start a company in order to receive the grant to make a pain-blocking device called Buzzy. So, she pulled back on her clinical role and ramped up her role as a physician entrepreneur. 

Even with a great idea and a great plan, you’ll still want to be cautious. “Make sure you really love the business you want to start, and don't leave the day job until you can survive on it,” said Baxter, who essentially spent 10 years doing two jobs. Check out the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs for inspiration, networking and support.

3. Locum tenens
Locum tenens physicians regularly fill staff vacancies on a temporary basis at hospitals and healthcare facilities all over the country. If you like to travel or check out new places, or if you’d like to earn some extra money on the side, a locum tenens assignment might be a good choice. 

You can choose when and where you want to work while you enjoy more time with patients and less bureaucratic hassles.  Check out these steps to get started in locum tenens

4. Medical writer
Consider all the medical information that you’ve mastered, and your insider’s perspective of healthcare delivery. You could put that knowledge to good use as a healthcare journalist or an author. Many news outlets and trade publications publish articles and columns by physicians and other healthcare professionals. Plus, medical writers can work independently, and often enjoy the perks of a flexible schedule. Some practitioners also choose to write part-time while they continue caring for patients.

5. Consultant
Many experienced physicians find that a consultant role is a great fit for them. There’s an almost unlimited array of consultancy jobs, too. For example, you could work as a consultant for a medical device company, a pharmaceutical company, or a sports team and provide valuable advice and guidance that only someone with your medical expertise can provide.

6. Health IT professional
If you’re fascinated with health informatics and decision support technologies, this could be an interesting possibility for you. Many large companies and associations need healthcare professionals with expertise in medical knowledge management to help them design, test and implement the systems used by other clinicians and administrators.


7. Educator
Academic medicine may sound fairly traditional, but there are more unique options today than in the past. Plenty of physicians teach in medical schools, but others take a different route using their own experience to educate others.

Near the end of medical school, Alec Palmerton, MD, started a side project, a website to help other med students prepare for their board examinations. Five years later, managing Yousmle.com is now his full-time job. “My job is to learn and master the human body, so I can teach the future clinicians of the U.S.,” said Palmerton. “There are new challenges every day, and I have so much more autonomy than I ever had when I was in medical training.” 

8. Healthcare attorney
Unlike some of the other jobs mentioned here, there is definitely more education and training involved in this one. Practitioners would have to get a law degree to become a practicing attorney. Physicians understand the complexity of the healthcare system from a clinician’s point of view, and can use their experience to help chart a satisfying path in healthcare law. 

9. Concierge physician
If you would like to continue seeing patients, but you need a change, concierge medicine might be for you. This alternative practice model, sometimes called “retainer-based medicine” or “direct practice,” allows you to keep working in patient care, free of the challenges of working with health insurance companies. Patients usually pay a monthly or annual fee for more direct access to personalized, convenient care. 

Find more information on your direct practice options from the American College of Private Physicians (ACPP).

10. Healthcare administrator
If you feel called to work in a leadership position and help others be more effective, administration could be a good career path for you. Most healthcare administrators aren’t involved in the direct provision of patient care, but their decisions and actions have a direct impact on clinicians, staff and the patients they serve. 

Moshe Lewis, MD, MBA, MPH, took some time off from practicing medicine to work in healthcare administration as a risk manager. He also worked as a consultant for a few years before eventually starting his own business, the Golden Gate Institute for Integrative Medicine.

Back to practicing medicine again?
Even if you choose a nontraditional job for physicians for a period of time, it’s possible you’ll feel drawn to practicing medicine again in a more traditional format. And that’s perfectly fine. 

“I see returning to the practice of medicine like that of many in the music industry who still record as a stable foundation. Continuing to practice provides legitimacy, work on a daily basis or consistent schedule and a platform for networking,” said Lewis. “In addition, there is a tremendous need for those who enjoy the interface and one-on-one interactions.”

Related:
The Top Things Physicians Want to Change About Their Jobs

The Average Vacation Time for Doctors

How Millennial Physicians Are Creating Work-Life Balance


LOCUM LEADERS matches physicians and advanced practitioners with part-time or full-time locum tenens assignments in their choice of locations across the U.S.

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