It’s 2019 and knowing what to search for on the internet, as in, what keywords to use is critically important so that you get the right answer. If you do an online search for “alternative careers medicine”, you’ll likely get the same old stale shit that’s been beaten to death.
I have written many articles on alternative careers in medicine and all of us know about the common categories in this topic. In this post, I would like to entice you to think about this topic more creatively.
For those who want to exit medicine or take a break from it, start by googling “alternative careers in medicine“. You want to read the first 10 pages of a search engine and click on about 100 links to get an idea of what’s out there.
But I have a feeling you did that, so let’s get dirty.
Alternative Careers in Medicine – Mainstream
One classic career move for physicians who are tired of clinical work is to take on administrative work at their medical group. I know an internist whose salary tops $1.2 million because he is part of the executive team of his hospital. He hates the work.
Another option is to go work for pharma or a biotech company, like illumina. My friend is a project manager there and works with a large group of physicians, all with healthy salaries, doing non-clinical work.
Or, you could work in Health IT. I chatted with a health IT lead at Kaiser Permanente and he had 10+ MD/DO’s working in his department. None did clinical work.
But maybe your don’t want to go from diagnosing URI’s to sifting through endless research studies or typing on a keyboard. You don’t want to be in a room with a bunch of non-native speaking scientists discussing the next animal study design.
What Do You Want to Do?
You’re not going to find a good gig unless you have an idea of what you like to do. Not talking about what you wanna be when you grow up, I’m talking about the basics.
- talking to people?
- reading medical journals?
- talking in front of people?
- motivating the elderly?
- talking to strong CEO’s?
- dealing with legal cases?
- inventing shit?
- social media?
- sitting at home watching netflix?
- spending only time with your cat/dog/fetus?
Needing a Break
If you fall towards the end of this list, you might just be burnt the fuck out. You don’t need a job outside of medicine, you need a break, a long break perhaps.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t come back and enjoy a satisfying career. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t come back to a quasi-clinical practice.
But when you’re so damn close to that b-work, you’re going to swap one misery for another, never getting a chance to recover.
Maybe you have no idea what you want to do, that’s fine.
What don’t you want to do? I did animal research in undergrad, I will never do that shit again – I feel terrible about it. I don’t even want to do any more bench research, not with pipettes, not with cells, not with science nerds.
I don’t want to have 12 bosses. I don’t want to create reports and have someone audit my work. I don’t want to meet a ton of deadlines and have to explain myself to others.
On the other hand, I’m willing to work the majority of the day doing something I like. How about you? How many hours would you be willing to dedicate to your alternative medical career? Nothing wrong with saying 2 hours a day or 4.
My friend N. doesn’t want to teach, she knows that for sure even though there are lucrative opportunities for her in that. Other friends don’t want to be glued to a laptop. Some hate speaking in front of crowds or having to travel for work. Another prefers to work in his PJ’s from home and be a digital nomad physician.
Make a List
Make a mental list or write it out. I like a spreadsheet for this.
List as many things as you like on one column and how many things you don’t like in another. You’ll know when to stop.
This list is important because you’ll have to decide what to dedicate your time to. An alternative career medicine won’t fall into your lap. You’ll have to seek it out or create it for yourself.
In the meantime, you can try the keyword “alternative careers” on indeed.com. I think you’ll recognize that the choices aren’t all that enticing.
Carving out your own alternative career in medicine is a good thing. It gets rid of the competition. You don’t think there are thousands of people who are willing to pay for a good service or product you create?
You also have to leave some room for alternative careers you never even considered. Jobs which were never on your radar.
The unknown unknowns can’t be accounted for. Which means that there are things out there which you might initially brush off because you don’t know enough about it. A healthy inquisitive approach has served me very well so far.
Designing Your Own Alternative Medical Career
Our generation may not appreciate that corporations no longer control the flow of information and money. I mean that a random person can now gain as many followers as the Wall Street Journal or Dr. Oz.
I don’t have to have my own Hedge Fund to make a ton of money investing. And I don’t have to have a mega corporation like KB Homes to have a solid income from real estate.
You don’t have to own the Zara brand to make million of dollars from a product line online.
You don’t need millions of dollars to start your own company. If you have a grand idea, venture capital, small business loans, and Angel Investors are more than happy to front you the money.
#1. Apply to Companies
Every HR person wants to look stellar. If they can find good talent they will be loved by their CEO. But they may not know that your talents will serve their company if you don’t apply.
If you have a particular talent that you can bring to a company, you need to let someone know. The perfect jobs are rarely listed, you have to submit your unsolicited resume.
If you love exercise and feel that you have an edge over other health coaches because of your clinical background, highlight that and apply to a company even if that job isn’t listed.
#2. Where are the Doctors?
What company has a lot of doctors working for them? What company has a lot of physician clients? Such companies can always use someone with relevant client insight to run some aspect of the business.
Obviously a hospital system is one such place. Also, a legal practice. Or a real estate business. And many personal finance advisors have physician clients.
If you have any overlapping interest, you need to apply. You have to have a catchy cover letter and you need to understand the business in order to stand out. Don’t worry if you don’t get a call right away. No HR department throws out their stack of applicants.
#3. Don’t Give Up
Applied for that health screening job at the DMV? Didn’t get it the first time? Apply again. There will be new people in charge and the department budget will have changed.
Feel that you have new skills that could highlight your resume more? Reapply and include that information.
#4. Link on LinkedIn
Instagram and LinkedIn are very atypical social media platforms. There is a purpose to these 2 platforms that I don’t see on others.
I recommend spending an hour a day on LinkedIn to build your profile and curate your connections. Leads spring up very fast on LI.
Interact with the right people. Post or repost articles and comment appropriately so that you can demonstrate your value to the right people.
#5. Physician Recruiters
Reach out to every physician recruiter you can find – they aren’t hard to find. Ask them what they have come across over the past few months where their clients have requested non-clinical work.
They likely will have passed because that’s not their business model. But they might have a connection for you or at least offer you some ideas as a springboard.
#6. Start a Business
Here in Spain, nobody wants to start a business because the government does everything possible to make it a pain in the ass. The laws are antiquated and the paperwork is insurmountable.
In America, you can start a business right now. No paperwork needed. No special bank account. You don’t have to pay any fees. Today you are Dr. Edelstein, tomorrow you are Edelstein Clinical Excellence Consulting.
If you’re afraid that you’ll fail or lose money when it comes to starting a business, your good idea won’t get off the ground. And as for good ideas, they are dime a dozen. Like a bus, a new one comes along every 15 minutes – it’s what you act on that matters.
There are 100’s of business models and business ideas which haven’t yet been built which would make a solid income for a medical professional.
#7. Create Your Own Field
Cooking, exercising, reviewing journal articles, creating a blog for patients or clinicians – these are niches which you can create for yourself. There is no good way to follow in anyone else’s footsteps.
If you want to teach people how to cook from the perspective of a medical professional, you can market that. You can create a course or put on local demonstrations or do live online sessions.
If you want to do medical health coaching – you can build out your own following. That’s something I’m building for my future self. It helps that I’m not in any rush to make it profitable.
#8. Hire Help
Many of you are employed. You are earning an income as physicians and PA’s or podiatrists. Use this income to fuel your next venture.
If you need a professional website, hire a good designer. If you need a good telemedicine platform built out, ask for full-stack developer bids on Upwork. If you need a solid social media marketing campaign, pay for a marketer.
Things need to look neat and clean online. It’s how you can gain consumer trust. They have nothing else to go on other than how professional your site looks.
#9. Come up With a New Idea
Recently I thought about starting an independent auditing company for telemedicine companies. Me and “my team” would perform independent audits of a telemedicine company, from scrutinizing their hiring process to their credentialing process. We’d test their platform and bandwidth and review clinical charts.
There are 10 new telemedicine companies started every day. No doubt that I’d find a few clients.
I could even curate a list of telemedicine companies whom I’ve vetted with sample patients. I can build affiliate links with them and submit the shady ones to each state medical board so that there can be some accountability.
When all else fails, consider an aesthetic practice. I know it sounds like a weasley way to make money from your medical license. But if you can’t beat them, join them.
There are quite a few tiny aesthetic practices which make a killing a year and appear rather unassuming. Laser hair removal, IPL for blemishes, botox and filler injections, microneedling, weight loss, and all the other things you’ve seen.
A weekend course will teach you everything you need to know. And an experienced RN or NP can handle all of the work for you.