While the majority of doctors enter the medical profession intending to work in some form of clinical practice, a number of physicians end up in non-clinical careers. Certainly, some doctors plan to veer off the beaten track for careers in public health or education, but health-care professionals do suffer a relatively high job burnout rate, and many choose other, less stressful second careers after some years of clinical practice.
Many physicians enjoy second or even third careers in academia. Whether you choose to become a faculty member at a medical school or end up in another area such as public health or biomedical science, a medical degree can provide entry into a wide variety of teaching opportunities at all levels.
Public health is a natural fit for many physicians looking to transition out of clinical practice. It has become a huge issue in the 21st century, and doctors who have been on the front lines practicing medicine certainly have a better perspective than most on complex issues such as health-care inflation and lack of access to providers.
Some doctors also enjoy second careers in business. The business world offers many opportunities for entrepreneurs or those looking for more management or administrative-oriented positions. Many former physicians have founded their own medical device or biotech companies, and others have worked their way up the corporate ranks to jobs such as vice president for health and safety or chief medical officer.
Specialists in almost any field can offer their expertise to others to earn a living. Dr. Claus Hamann, featured in an article on the American Medical Association website, was a practicing internist who decided he could contribute more to improving the health-care system as a consultant. He now works as a senior manager for provider clinical solutions with the consulting firm Accenture. He now assists hospitals and physician groups in developing and implementing improved electronic medical records systems and clinical processes.
Medical writers are in great demand. The rapid growth of health-related websites has led to a strong need for quality content, and physicians who can explain complex subjects in understandable, everyday terms can find plenty of work. Health insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device manufacturers and local, state and federal government agencies all hire medical writers -- sometimes as employees, but more often on a contract basis.
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.