9 non-medical careers for doctors

With burnout on the rise, many physicians are choosing to leave clinical medicine for alternative careers. Other physicians are wondering if it’s worth it to stay in a workforce that does not pull for the well being of their frontline workers.

Gone are the days where physicians stay stuck suffering in a practice or career that is no longer fulfilling or worse, causing burnout. Those physicians are considered old-school and are destined to fall by the wayside. The more enlightened physicians look at all of their options. They ask themselves what their career ideal is? Then, they create it. Some physicians choose to stay and practice medicine (this is a good thing as we need to keep soldiers in the field).

However, in my trainings and coaching, I often get the question: What non-medical careers are there for me? What else could I do with my medical degree besides see patients? If you are considering using your MD for another purpose besides patient care, here are your options. Note that for many of these are options, you do not have to quit your day job in order to be profitable and successful in the non-clinical realm.

1. Writing

There are several ways to earn income as a writer. Most physicians automatically think publishing a book. This is but one option that allows for earning income. There are opportunities to be a paid blog writer, test question contributor, and medical freelance writer. There are a plethora of resources on how to make the transition to successful medical writer. One need simply search them online.

2. Onlіnе learning/marketing

Many physicians are becoming savvy and making their way into the online business world. There are several options including the online learning industry, virtual summits, webinars and even self-published and private label rights (PLR) book sales. Additionally, becoming an online marketer can produce a solid secondary source of income (often passive) with the right training and resources. There are many books and marketing coaches that can get you on the pathway to creating your successful online business.

3. Consulting

Unbeknownst to many physicians, medical expertise is frequently sought after by pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies when they are creating, testing and investigating new products. If you are someone who has always loved research, this may be a pathway of interest for you.

Consider leveraging your pharmaceutical and device reps to find potential opportunities with companies of interest. You likely have more influence than you know. Furthermore, this is only one of many areas of consulting. If you have a particular area of expertise and you see a need, consulting may be the avenue for you.

4. Exреrt wіtnеѕѕ

While we hope it will never be us, doctors are sued all of the time. Whether defending a physician who is not liable or providing testimony for a physician who clearly is liable, this is an area where physicians can create a non-medical career utilizing their clinical expertise. Additionally, expert witnesses can make a decent income without having to work 60-80 hours a week. Consider this as a career path if you are interested in keeping physicians accountable and having justice be balanced and fair towards your colleagues.

5. Concierge medicine

For physicians who want to continue to provide quality patient care but on their own terms, concierge medicine may be a good option for you. With this style of practice you can see patients for longer times, see fewer patients overall and give more personalized care. Since this is a cash-based model, you don’t have to worry about fighting with insurance for payment as you always receive 100 percent of what you bill. There are several models of concierge model including annual membership, monthly membership, and hybrid insurance models. Hiring a practice consultant familiar with these types of practices is a good way to get started. Another option is to ask someone you know personally who may run this type of practice. Additionally, there are large companies now that transition private practices into concierge practices. Examples of these include MDVIP and ChoiceMD.

6. Public speaking and live events

If you are someone who loves to speak, train and be on stage, utilizing your medical degree to educate the masses may be the pathway for you.

Physicians can earn a significant living speaking for conferences, hospital organizations and societies, and corporations on various health and medical topics. Additionally, physicians can be motivational speakers, hold retreats and training events for other physicians. ZDoggMD, Dr. Christiane Northrup and Dr. Kevin Pho good examples of these.

7. Virtual medicine

The rise of telemedicine has brought a new awareness to the capabilities of the virtual practice. Not only can telemedicine provide access to those who otherwise may not have it, but in many cases, it’s reimbursable by insurance. It also provides flexibility for the physician practicing, allowing them to be anywhere while seeing their patients. There are large telemedicine corporations, but you can easily start your own virtual practice as long as you are abiding by telemedicine laws and licensing compliance. Furthermore, the concierge model could also be applied to the virtual practice.

8. Phуѕісіаn соасhing

Coaching is becoming an increasingly popular career choice for many professions. Physicians have the opportunity to provide coaching to either patients, other physicians or hospital executives. Coaching areas include wellness, nutrition, lifestyle, leadership, business or career. The transition from clinical medicine to coaching in the health and wellness arena can be a very seamless and profitable one if done correctly.

9. Television or radio personality

There are many physicians who have turned to television or radio as a non-medical career option. From Sanjay Gupta, who serves as a medical news expert to Dr. Oz who has become a well-known talk show host, there are many ways to enter into the media industry as either a television or radio personality. Additionally, there are several reality shows that employ either physician experts, and there are even shows that feature physicians as the reality star. If you are interested in being in the television industry but not in front of the camera, consider being a consultant or writer to a fictional medical series.

These are just a few ways for the physicians who either want to supplement their income or transition out of medicine altogether to leverage their existing degrees to do so. While, stepping into a new realm can be scary, having the courage to step out of the mold and pursue something new could bring new aliveness to your existing career and even lead you to a fulfilling and profitable second stream of income.

Maiysha Clairborne is an integrative medicine physician and can be reached at The Stress Free Mom MD.  She is the author of The Wellness Blueprint: The Complete Mind/Body Approach to Reclaiming Your Health & Wellness

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

View 2 Comments >

Most Popular

✓ Join 148,000+ subscribers 
✓ Get KevinMD's 5 most popular stories
Subscribe. It's free.
close-image