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Overcoming Fear Of Job Loss And Being Unable To Provide For Your Family

Confronting The Fear of Losing One’s Job

The topic of job-loss has come up a few times when I’ve talked to doctors close my age (38) with families they are responsible for. It usually surfaces when something happens at work and they don’t want to make waves out of fear of upsetting management.

It’s even worse if you are the only spouse putting vegan meat on the table. The pressure can get to you, the mind will go to some dark places thinking of worst case scenarios; severe illness, law suits, getting fired, a sudden change in the medical environment or burning out and needing to drop out.

I don’t have a whole lot of advice for you when it comes to preventing any of the above, I used to worry about it as much as the next person; I still worry about it for some reason even though I don’t have much of a need for income.

This post is about coming to terms with this fear by listing options for a doctor who cannot practice clinical medicine any longer for whatever reason. I am writing about this because I think it’s helpful to confront one’s fears by coming up with the worst case scenarios and planning for them.

Look For Another Job

No, I don’t mean go look for another clinical job, with that many DUI’s it’s probably not gonna happen anyways. Let’s first look at jobs loosely related to medicine. I always try to research the shit out of my posts so that they are accurate, these jobs I’m discussing are from active listings online. I’m actually surprised how many health jobs are out there for docs which don’t require direct patient care.

Clinical Professor

Depending on your years in practice and your specialty it’s possibly to find a job as a professor without needing an active medical license. I recommend starting the search by looking at the medical school website of your choice and go from there.

Medical Director

Some clinics are owned by non-medical individuals and after their physician retires or goes to jail they will often advertise for a replacement medical director. If you completely lost your license (surrendered) then you likely won’t be able to fill this position. This position has more of a management component and often no direct clinical care.

Program Director

There are addiction medicine, pain, nursing home and psych clinics that always need a PD (program director) to oversee treatment, help guide treatment protocols and report to the board of directors or owners.

These roles are filled with all sorts of people from the health industry from social workers to pharmacists, MD’s to RN’s.

Clinic Manager

You may no longer be able to treat patients as a physician due to your disseminated gonoccocal arthritis but you likely have plenty of hands-on experience regarding how a clinic should run efficiently. Clinic manager jobs are a viable options. Usually RN’s take these positions and salaries can range from $50k-100k along with bonuses. Not a lot of money but someone with highly specialized skills who no longer is able to practice those skills isn’t exactly marketable.

Medical Case Review

Insurance companies often have retired physicians on staff to review cases for them especially when it comes to larger claims. These clinicians suggest decisions regarding reimbursement, flying patients out of an area if they are out-of-network or creating protocols for the insurance company reimbursement programs.

Chief Medical Officer

Pharmaceutical groups come in all shapes and sizes. Some are retail dispensers, others are drug developers, then there are compound pharmacies and others are wholesale. These businesses often hire MD/DO’s or PharmD’s to handle their internal audits and external reporting. Sounds boring as shit but if it tickles you somewhere then consider it.

You would be amazed how many companies employ CMO’s, Apple, Google, Facebook, communication companies, Amazon, startups, travel companies.

Online Job Sources

Linked In

Linked in deserves a big mention here. The link I provided has clinical research job listings. More importantly, you can put your profile up there and express interest in non-clinical jobs. Recruiters will reach out to you based on your preferences and expertise.

The San Diego Profil institute and Eli Lilly in New Jersey are looking for someone with an MD/DO to guide medical research as of this posting. If you can’t find a listing I recommend contacting the job recruitment department of various clinical research institutes directly.

DOC Jobs

Drop Out Club is a job listing site which is very professionally run. All sorts of companies advertise on there looking for physicians to lead clinical trials, direct research, perform financial analysis, lead sales, and perform consulting work for companies in the health field.

I have interviewed with a few companies who have advertised on DOC jobs and the experience has been pleasant and professional.

Review Medical-Legal Cases

You might be picturing some greasy fuck with a cigar hanging out the side of his mouth, a Trump comb-over and sweat on his forehead having you review a case against a doctor so that he can stick it to that them… though I’m sure that job is available as well, just remember that you can choose which side you want to work for. 

Alternatively you can work in-house for large medical groups. As I am writing this there is a job available for someone to review legal cases for Kaiser Permanente in the California area.

The easiest way to come by these gigs is to contact older colleagues, they usually have been offered such gigs or have dabbled in them. Otherwise, a few online websites can help you get started. SEAK seems to have carved out a niche for themselves getting professionals in the health field to pursue a role as an expert witness (doctors, pharmacists, dentists, nurses).

Get Involved In Non-Profits

If you know of a worthwhile non-profit healthcare group that has always captured your fancy then start by hitting up their job listings online. Even if you don’t find something that interests you it might be worthwhile to contact the medical director and see if a paid position is available for you.

Remember, getting your foot in the door is always the toughest thing. Just like medical school, getting in is pretty much the hardest part, the rest is just following orders and keeping up with the material. Most decent companies will ask you to climb the ladder if you are a strong employee and such positions become available.

I have experienced this first-hand both when I worked in a pet shop and later as an attending taking care of different animals.

Attend Conferences For Doctors Looking For Careers Outside of Medicine

If you find yourself jobless without any good leads  there is almost always a job available for you out there.

As with any disaster don’t wait until it happens, practice for it, prepare for it and know how you will react. Large companies hire strategists who put the board of directors through such scenarios. By doing so the fear of that situation is mitigated and proper preparations are made.


SNEAK is a company for mainly doctors who are looking to change their career. It has a lot of resources in form of conferences and multimedia that can be purchased. They offer CME credits so it sounds like a win-win. Their conferences seem to address many types of non-clinical jobs for doctors and other health professionals. I mentioned them above as a resource for expert witness work.


Health 2.0 puts on incredible conferences which attract quite a lot of people. Attending the lectures alone would not be the best use of time in such a setting; you always get recordings which you can review later as part of the conference fee. Instead it would be best to take a buddy along and walk around, talk to people and try to ask a lot of questions – from personal experience people are very receptive.

Innovative types are drawn to such conference, companies and startups who are looking to make changes to the current system or who are pushing the envelope. They are always looking for new talent or can at least point you in the right direction.

As with any conference, you attend enough of them and you are going to run into the same people which breeds familiarity, making it easier for you to meet more people.


Medicine X, called MedX, is similar to Health 2.0. The advantage is that it’s a smaller organization held every year on the Stanford campus and attracts similar innovators, doctors and entrepreneurs as Health 2.0.

I got a chance to attend the last day of this conference this year and I was very impressed with what they had to offer. I met great people and made good connections.


A Final Note On Selling Yourself

You may not be the RN, manager, HR person or researcher that a particular business is looking for. However, if you genuinely think you are capable of doing such work then don’t be afraid to apply for such positions. The key is to know how to sell yourself. If you aren’t good at this then I recommend reading books on job interviewing, sales, as well as marketing. 

Don’t assume that the HR department’s recruitment arm knows everything you know. If you can convince them that you would do a far better job than whoever else they might hire with less credentials than you then I’m sure they will at least give you an interview. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They get a pat on the back for being able to get an MD/DO to apply for a managerial position?


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