Tired of Medicine? 20 Nonclinical Career Options

Leigh Page


March 14, 2018

In This Article

CME and Career Expertise

1. Produce CME Presentations

Doctors can help organize and write presentations for companies that host continuing medical education (CME) for physicians and other health professionals, an industry that generates more than $2 billion in annual sales.

These companies must meet a demanding set of requirements from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), such as documenting their target audience, stating course objectives, explaining how the course fills gaps in knowledge, and testing participants afterward.

Talented doctors can rise fast in the CME industry. For example, Joseph Kim, MD, who runs a website for doctors called NonClinicalJobs.com,[2] joined MCM Education, a small CME company in Newtown, Pennsylvania. He then became president of the company, making an income similar to that of practicing physicians, before starting Q Synthesis LLC.

Dr Kim says he brought skills in both writing and computer software to the company. As an MIT undergraduate, he wanted to combine his interest in technology with population-based health, so he enrolled in medical school and trained in internal medicine but didn't go into practice.

"I just felt I could apply my skill set better somewhere else," he says. So he went to work at a consumer health company, where he helped build some computer-based education modules. But he preferred writing for doctors, which brought him to CME.

Recently, he earned an MBA. "A lot of doctors have to learn executive skills to be successful in business," he says.

According to the ACCME's latest data report, the total income for accredited CME providers exceeded $2.5 billion in 2016, and the number of educational events had increased 7% over 2015.[3]

Accredited CME providers differentiate themselves from medical communications companies that work with pharmaceutical companies to provide seminars to doctors. Commercial support from pharmaceutical companies accounted for 28% of accredited providers' income, according to the ACCME report.

Pros: Physicians with writing and computer skills can thrive at CME companies.

Cons: The production process is often cumbersome, because it must meet a variety of accreditation requirements.

2. Become a Physician Career Coach

Lots of physicians stay busy these days serving as career coaches for their colleagues. And considering the high percentage of doctors in the Physicians Foundation survey who reported that they wanted to change careers, demand for this new field may not yet be fully tapped.

In addition to counseling on career change, coaches help physicians upgrade their current careers, brush up on their management skills, and develop new sources of income for their practices. They may work with clients one-on-one, speak to small groups, or give seminars and speeches.

There are even courses and certification programs for career coaches, who can earn six figures once they've established themselves.

Dr Philippa Kennealy, MD, in Santa Monica, California, left her post as a hospital CEO in 2002 to start her own coaching company in Los Angeles. First she taught leadership skills to physician executives, department chiefs, and medical staff presidents. Now, in a business called The Entrepreneurial MD, she coaches physicians who want to start their own business.

"It was a natural fit for me, because it allowed me back into the helping relationship that I enjoyed when I practiced medicine," she says.

When Heather Fork, MD, left her dermatology practice in 2004, "I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do next," she recalls. "I sold my house and pretty much everything in it and rented a cabin in the country. I did the Walden Pond thing, without the pond."

"It's important to create some space in one's busy life for something new to come in," she explains. Through that process, she chose career coaching. She now runs The Doctor's Crossing in Austin, Texas.

Pros: Demand for coaching is high, and the income can be good once you get established.

Cons: You'll have to work hard to build up a client base and keep getting new clients.


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