Tired of Medicine? 20 Nonclinical Career Options

Leigh Page


March 14, 2018

In This Article

Other Careers Identified by Readers

Medscape readers suggested a variety of additional careers that they had chosen. Here are a few categories.

Public Health Needs Experts

17. Use Your Talents in Public Health

In a prior Medscape article discussing the switch to new careers, several physicians said that they switched to public health, which allows doctors to continue clinical practice but does not require it.

The reasons for their choice? They wanted to go beyond one-on-one care to studying populations. "My passion is more in larger change to help keep people healthy," one wrote in the comments, and another added, "I loved patient care but wanted the opportunity to address some of the upstream causes of the pathology I was dealing with as a hospital-based [infectious disease] physician."

One doctor wrote that after 12 years as a family physician, he went back to school to get a master's degree in public health and took a job as a county health officer. "I have some clinical duties, but most of my work is public education, policy collaboration, and administration," he wrote. "The pay is the drawback, but I have much higher job satisfaction than I did as a physician in private practice."

18. Combine Medical Knowledge With Legal Expertise

Physicians who had become attorneys still kept their focus on medicine—malpractice in particular.

"I tired of fighting HMOs at age 50 and went to law school," one physician wrote in the aforementioned article. Two years after starting to practice law, "I had the great pleasure of winning (with my trial partner) a large jury verdict against a national HMO in a mismanaged managed care death case."

One newly minted lawyer said he continued to practice medicine. He works 7 days a week, "but my life has never been better," he wrote. "My time off is now fully appreciated, but getting up each morning with a real purpose makes all the effort incredibly worthwhile."

Options With Insurers and Medical Devices

19. Working With Insurers and Other Companies

A former family physician now works at a major life insurer. "I enjoyed the challenge of reinventing myself after 13 years of clinical practice," he wrote. He researches, consults with underwriters, and sets writing standards. "The hours are better, there is no call, and we are well-compensated for what we do," he wrote.

One doctor became chief medical officer for a "good-sized" health plan after 25 years of practicing primary care. "After 1 month of being out of medicine, friends and colleagues were commenting that I looked 10 years younger," he wrote. "Happiest I have been in a long time."

Another doctor became a consultant for a third-party administrator that brokers drug tests and health screening for multiple clients. "I have never been happier," he wrote. "For those of you struggling with unhappiness in clinical medicine, I urge you: Don't give up."

After 25 years in clinical practice, one doctor took a managerial job at a cancer center. "Fortunately, in my prior leadership roles my hospital invested in physician executive training," he wrote. He had "the freedom to pursue whatever problems I found and the resources to accomplish my goals."

20. Medical Devices and Pharmaceutical Companies

One doctor took a job at a medical device company. "I strongly feel that I am doing the most 'good' now," she wrote. "My job involves technical support, education, and the final validation of new products before release." Although the work is "high stress" and she makes about one third as much as before, she has a steady salary and can be close to her children, she says.

Another doctor joined a clinical research organization, starting as a medical monitor and progressing to vice president. Then he helped found a small pharmaceutical company. "Learning the new molecular medicine and immunology of oncology is very intellectually stimulating," he wrote. "I wonder how practicing oncologists can do it."

The founder of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs wrote that his group is "dedicated to accelerating innovation in healthcare" and has more than 11,000 members on LinkedIn. Local chapters of the group provide the education, resources, networking, and "introduction to funding sources to launch successful physician entrepreneurial ventures," he added.

Completely Beyond Healthcare

One commenter set his sights on real estate. "Buy a bunch of rental properties, have them paid them off by the tenants, and voilà... plan B," he wrote.

Another became a charter airplane pilot. "My retirement after 30 years of ENT surgery was followed by an encore as a commercial multiengine charter pilot," he wrote.

A third operates a cattle ranch. "I now work part-time as a hospitalist and operate a 200-head cattle farm," he wrote. "Cattle ranching is much more rewarding and still offers the opportunity to use the science of genetics, reproduction, and infectious disease while caring for animals that are quite honestly more appreciative than most humans!"


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.