Non-Clinical Career Options for Medics
A degree in medicine offers endless opportunities, within and beyond the walls of a hospital. It’s a degree that equips you with multiple skills that are valuable in pretty much anything, and everything that you choose to do. You have a work ethic that is second to none, and a brain that is good at assimilating and applying large volumes of knowledge, and applying them under immense pressure. An increasing number of medics (young and older) are choosing career paths that don’t involve direct contact with patients for many different reasons. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a few medics who took the non-clinical route, and the most common reasons have been- dissatisfaction with current medical practice, desire to explore other fields outside of medicine, boredom, desire to make a bigger impact in medicine via technological innovations, and so on. The reasons are inexhaustible, but it is important to know that there are many aspects of healthcare that lead to the successful management of a patient.
Here are the most common non-clinical career paths medics have been known to embark on in the past few years:
It’s not news that research is the backbone of medicine, and so it is no wonder that it’s a dominant career option for many medics. Research roles include clinical research assistants, associates, coordinators, or principal researchers. These roles could be lab-based, hospital-based or field-based.
Medical writing is used in a diverse range of media outputs such as in marketing materials, health promotion materials, advertising, medical textbooks, health news, websites, and so much more. It’s usually a suitable career path for creative medics and medics who are enthusiastic about research and writing. Medical writing is useful in a variety of settings in the healthcare industry such as in the pharmaceutical sector, the advertising sector, the publishing sector, the digital media sector, medical education, etc. Medical writers can also work for established companies/agencies or work as freelancers.
Medical editors proofread and critically analyse medical communications content to ensure the medical accuracy of information. They ensure references are accurate, and all information provided is evidence-based, up to date and conforms with current standards, depending on the organisation. Just like medical writers, medical editors can choose to work as freelancers or be employed by an organisation.
These are drug sales representatives whose role encompasses providing information about medications to prescribing physicians, and monitoring prescribing patterns within a pre-described population. These individuals could also be representatives of companies that create medical devices/ equipment. They can be seen demo-ing and teaching healthcare professionals how to use the latest equipment for a variety of procedures.
Depending on specific company objectives, they analyse complex healthcare and patient information. They could also analyse, describe and document care pathways for diagnosis, treatment and long-term management of chronic conditions.
Hospital administrators ensure the smooth running of a hospital; the goal is to ensure patient care is delivered in accordance with the hospital’s policies and standards. They direct the overall functions of a hospital’s services, as well as coordinate and supervise administrative and clinical operations. They also manage the delivery of care in the most cost-effective manner, coordinate treatment activity between disciplines and team members, and provide therapy services, including assessment as applicable- treatment planning, and therapeutic interventions that are consistent with the discipline’s qualifications, professional practices, and ethical standards.
This role is quite vague in the sense that its expertise is useful in a wide range of companies and agencies. Their role is most crucial in the medical departments of biotech, medical devices, and pharmaceutical companies. Generally, their role involves acting as a bridge between the clinical research departments and the marketing departments. They provide clinical-based opinions about products to influence the decision-making processes.
Clinical tutors essentially provide medical education and professional training to doctors in training and medical students. They are an essential part of any healthcare institution and teaching hospital.
This speaks for itself. It involves setting up a business as an individual or with a group of individuals. However, as much medicine equips you with many life skills, we are fish out of water when it comes to figuring out finances, taxes, budgets, marketing, branding etc. It is important to learn as much as you can before you dive into this field. Thankfully there are many free online resources and courses online that could help you build your business knowledge.
Medics who go into this field can work for a large range of International, Governmental and Non-governmental organisations; this work could be field-based or admin-based. Field-based medical work might involve volunteering for organisations such as Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Red Cross to work on Disaster Medical Assistant teams; while admin-based jobs could involve working for organisations such as the United Nations, UNICEF, etc, to create policies that guide global and public health policies.
Please note that for most of the above-mentioned careers, extra study in the form of diplomas and masters are essential for training and to make you competitive for jobs.
image sources: johnmaerz.com; msf.org.au; spiinstitute.com; patientengagementhit.com; futurumresearch.com; biotecnika.org
Dr. Wendy Evans-Uhegbu is a graduate of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with experience in Connected Health, Medical Technology, Clinical Research, Medical Education, Medical Communications, and Web Design/Development. She is a part of the Medics Abroad team with the role of Chief Communications Officer. She is also a Medical Writer at 3D4 Medical and runs a Medical Communications and Children’s books company (ODR Integrated Services/ ODR Books). She is the author of the newly published children’s book series “The Things Around Me”.