There are many great reasons to choose a non-clinical career.  They often provide an opportunity to apply some of the skills that may not be as well utilized in a clinical setting or to expand your horizons and gain new skills and experiences.  You can serve in a visible leadership role – whether in policy, government, industry or communications.  You can also use your medical skills in an entirely new setting with different responsibilities.  Unfortunately, as many doctors finish medical school, they have a narrowed sense of what types of options might be waiting for them.  Residency, which is ever more geared toward clinical practice, does little to fill this gap.

Most doctors go straight into clinical practice, only to consider non-clinical alternatives as an after thought later in their career.  in addition to many benefits of working in a non-clinical career, increasing numbers of doctors are considering such options due to issues they face in clinical practice.  Here are some interesting statistics that show a disturbing trend that has persisted consistently over the years:

  • In 2010, the non-profit Physicians Foundation found that 78% of physicians think medicine is “no longer rewarding” or “less rewarding” and 49% plan to reduce the number of patients they see over the next several years.
  • The 2011 Great American Physician Survey found medicine is (an) “all encompassing” (career) and that over 50% of doctors are pessimistic about the future of medicine five years from now.
  • A 2012 Mayo Clinic survey of 7,288 physicians published in Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that 46% reported at least one symptom of decreased life or job satisfaction.  The report indicates that many doctors suffer high levels of emotional exhaustion and struggle to find work/life balance.

If you are doing your residency training and considering non-clinical career options, then you are far ahead of most of your peers in this regard.  It is far better to evaluate your career options more thoroughly now, rather than wait and switch gears later.  If you have already finished your residency and are now reading this chapter, that’s okay too.  The key points that we will review are applicable to you as well.

Thinking about the next steps in your career is both scary and exciting.  The process can be harder when you aren’t sure you want your job to be 100% clinical for the next few decades.  You might envision yourself practicing part time and also having a business on the side, or you might want to work as a doctor in a corporate environment on the business side of medicine.  Then again, these might be totally new ideas that you’ve never considered until now.

To read the rest of this article and see what other Non-Clinical Options are out there follow this link:


Author:  The Adventures in Medicine Team with the expertise of Michelle Mudge-Riley DO, MHA & Michael J. McLaughlin, MD.


Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, University of Maryland Emergency Medicine Network supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that University of Maryland Emergency Medicine Network is making practice purposeful.