What’s ‘out there’?

In recent years, doctors in patient care have seen more opportunities open up in both clinical and nonclinical work. Clinicians with an interest or skills in other industries are spoilt for choice.

Some of the roles are in the pharmaceutical industry (advisory and research), health and safety, insurance, and government agencies such as defence, aviation and Veterans’ Affairs. Doctors with a love of writing can combine it with their medical knowledge as a medical writer, medical journalist or media medic (print, broadcast or web-based). If they love technology, then nonclinical roles in biotechnology or informatics allow them to work on technology advancements that directly or indirectly help with patient care.

When exploring what’s available ‘out there’, doctors could consider volunteer work in an industry of interest or share their knowledge as a subject matter expert (SME) on a part time basis. Volunteer and SME roles give them a chance to see if a role or industry is what they really want, and they can do either while still retaining their current job.

Why a doctor would choose to change roles differs from person to person. It could be they are looking for something more challenging, or perhaps a side gig to supplement their income with part-time work. They may want to have more of an impact in the health care industry and find ways to improve patient care.

This is why I became a career coach. After working with doctors for many years, I relish the opportunities to help doctors find their passion – whether in clinical or nonclinical roles.

Transitioning to a nonclinical role

When you know you’re ready for a change but not sure how to go about it, talking to someone who’s not emotionally invested can help. That’s what Andrew did.

Andrew started his medical career pursuing training in general surgery. He then moved to general practice and specialised in skin cancer treatment. He set up three clinics and then decided to pursue his passion for digital health. Changing direction in his career meant he needed to understand what options were available and how to seek out and proactively approach opportunities. Andrew chose to work with me to helped him attain the right qualifications and ultimately secure a role as a medical advisor with a global health technology company.

Karen realised early in her training that clinical practice wasn’t for her. She decided to change careers and only knew she wanted a nonclinical role. Karen engaged me to help her work through what she really wanted and then how to apply and transition to a new career path. She successfully applied for a nonclinical role with the Australian Digital Health Agency.

I provided Andrew and Karen with coaching in career planning to identify what role they wanted and the relevant industry, how to overhaul their CV to be relevant for the new position, and interview coaching to be confident and fully prepared.

These are great examples of how planning and preparation with the right mentor was key in getting the desired outcomes.

Tips for planning your transition

While there are many opinions on how to transition to nonclinical or other clinical roles, we wanted to share the following few to get you started:

Don’t make rash decisions. Do your research before taking on another role.

Make sure you’re ready for the move. It can be daunting getting out of your comfort zone.

Know why you want to make a move. Remember, it’s not just about the role – it’s about the impact you can make when in that role.

Decide if you want to test the waters first as a volunteer or SME. Explore whether you want ongoing flexibility with part-time work, ability to work remotely and your own hours.

Expect a learning curve. Any change requires time to learn and adapt.

Attend networking events. Meet people in the industry and role you’re interested in. Gain confidence and let others know you’re looking for a change.

And if you think nonclinical roles aren’t as important as clinical roles, think again. Whether you’re helping patients directly or indirectly, your role is important. Just make sure it’s what you want.


Register for my Exploring Nonclinical Options webinar next Thursday 8 September.


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