Non-clinical physician jobs frequently asked questions

I speak with many physicians who are interested in leaving clinical medicine to pursue an alternative career (non-clinical job) and they always seem to ask the same types of questions. Let’s dig into some of those “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)” by exploring some common questions that are rooted in myths and misconceptions.

Here are some questions that I get all the time from physicians who are considering a career transition:

1. How do I “break in” to the industry (such as pharma) when I don’t have any pharma experience? All the jobs seem to require industry experience.
2. What type of salary ranges can I expect?
3. Do I need to complete a residency?
4. How much travel is generally involved with these types of jobs?
5. Do I need to get an advanced degree like an MBA, an MPH, (or an MS in informatics for a health IT job)?

The answers to some of these questions can be rather complex, but let me address a few issues:

First, you don’t need to complete a residency or get an advanced degree to be successful in the non-clinical world. Board certification is helpful (and is necessary for certain types of positions in medical management, managed care, etc.). An MBA, MPH, or MS offers no guarantee that you’ll succeed. It may provide you with additional resources,

As for travel – that really varies based on the job. Some sales (business development) jobs may require up to 80% travel, so you should expect to live out of a suitcase.

Salary ranges can start anywhere around $70 – $80k per year and go well over $200k if you pursue jobs in certain industries such as consulting, venture capital, investment banking, etc. If you’re a specialist, your salary ranges will clearly be different than generalists.

I saved the most difficult question for the end. One way to “break in” is to start with an entry-level job and then to transition into a different job after one or two years.

Joseph Kim is a physician-executive who blogs at Non-Clinical Medical Jobs, Careers, and Opportunities.

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