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Explore These 11 Top Nonclinical Careers for Physician Assistants

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Doctors, nurses, and physician assistants are all increasingly looking to get out of clinical medicine. The COVID-19 pandemic was the last straw for many. The dysfunction of the US healthcare system on top of long hours and high stress has healthcare workers looking into nonclinical careers. 

Changing careers is never easy. Especially after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to break into one. But there are plenty of nonclinical opportunities available that make use of a clinician’s skills and expertise in other ways. 

Nonclinical Careers for Physician Assistants

These nonclinical roles can offer better work-life balance, higher salaries, and the chance to make a significant impact on healthcare without being directly involved in patient care. Let’s explore some of the most exciting and in-demand nonclinical career opportunities for physician assistants.

  1. Medical Writer: Medical writers create a wide range of content related to healthcare, including scientific papers, clinical trial reports, educational materials, and marketing materials. They often work for healthcare organizations, medical communications agencies, or pharmaceutical companies. A medical writer should have strong writing and communication skills, as well as a solid understanding of medical terminology and research methodologies. 

You can get started on UpWork or Fiverr for free and start to build a portfolio.

Examples: Medical Communications Writer, Scientific Writer, Regulatory Medical Writer, Medical Editor, and Healthcare Blogger.

  1. Medical Sales Representative: Medical sales representatives sell medical devices, equipment, and pharmaceuticals to hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare professionals. A medical sales representative should have excellent sales and communication skills, as well as a deep knowledge of the products they are selling. 

These Facebook groups are all about nonclinical careers for physician assistants and other healthcare professionals: Alternative Non-Clinical Careers For Doctors & Healthcare Professionals; Non-Clinical & Clinical Courses & Jobs for Doctors; Making an Impact in Medical Industry as a Healthcare Provider; Physician Associate Entrepreneurs.

Examples: Medical Device Sales Representative, Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, Biotech Sales Representative.

  1. Healthcare Administrator: Healthcare administrators manage healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. They oversee budgets, staffing, and operations, and are responsible for ensuring that the facility provides high-quality care to patients. A healthcare administrator should have strong leadership, organizational, and communication skills, as well as a solid understanding of healthcare regulations and policies.

Check out these online Master of Healthcare Administration programs: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Pennsylvania State University World Campus, and UCLA.

Examples:  Hospital Administrator, Clinical Services Manager, Healthcare Operations Director, Nursing Home Administrator.

  1. Medical Consultant: Medical consultants provide advice to healthcare organizations and companies on healthcare policies, regulations, and strategies. They may work for consulting firms, government agencies, or healthcare organizations. A medical consultant should have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as a deep understanding of the healthcare industry.

Examples: Healthcare Consultant, Pharmaceutical Consultant, Clinical Research Consultant, Medical Devices Consultant

  1. Medical Researcher: Medical researchers conduct research studies to advance medical knowledge and improve patient care. They may work for universities, research organizations, or pharmaceutical companies. A medical researcher should have strong analytical and research skills, as well as a deep understanding of medical science and research methodologies.

Examples: Clinical Research Associate, Medical Research Scientist, Clinical Trials Project Manager, Biostatistician.

  1. Health Educator: Health educators develop and deliver educational programs on health topics, such as disease prevention and healthy lifestyles. They may work for government agencies, non-profit organizations, or healthcare organizations. A health educator should have strong communication and teaching skills, as well as a deep understanding of health topics.

Examples: Public Health Educator, Health Promotion Specialist, Patient Education Coordinator, Health Literacy Specialist, Professor

  1. Healthcare IT Specialist: Healthcare IT specialists manage and maintain healthcare information systems, such as electronic medical records. They work for healthcare organizations or IT companies that specialize in healthcare. A healthcare IT specialist should have strong technical and problem-solving skills, as well as a deep understanding of healthcare information systems.

Check out these online programs in Health Informatics: USF, Arizona State University, Rutgers

Examples: Health Information Manager, Clinical Informatics Specialist, Healthcare Data Analyst, Health IT Project Manager, Health Informaticist. 

  1. Medical Transcriptionist: Medical transcriptionists transcribe audio recordings made by healthcare professionals into written reports. They may work for healthcare facilities or transcription companies. A medical transcriptionist should have strong typing and listening skills, as well as a deep understanding of medical terminology.

Examples: Medical Language Specialist, Medical Transcription Editor, Medical Scribe, and Medical Transcription Quality Analyst.

  1. Medical Interpreter: Medical interpreters translate medical information between patients and healthcare providers who speak different languages. They may work for healthcare facilities, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. A medical interpreter should have excellent language skills, as well as a deep understanding of medical terminology.

Examples: Medical Language Interpreter, Healthcare Language Services Coordinator, Bilingual Patient Navigator, and Medical Interpreter Trainer.

Start your journey as a medical interpreter with Rosetta Stone.

  1. Healthcare Marketing Specialist: Healthcare marketing specialists promote healthcare products and services to the public and healthcare professionals. They work for healthcare organizations or marketing agencies that specialize in healthcare. A healthcare marketing specialist should have excellent marketing and communication skills, as well as a deep understanding of the healthcare industry.

Examples: Healthcare Communications Specialist, Marketing Manager for Healthcare Products, Healthcare Social Media Manager, Healthcare Brand Manager.

  1. Medical Science Liasion: A Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is typically a doctorally prepared individual who acts as a bridge between the pharmaceutical or medical device industry and healthcare professionals. MSLs are required to have advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to interpret and present complex scientific data to various audiences. MSLs are responsible for disseminating accurate and up-to-date information about a company’s products and providing education on clinical data and scientific developments. They serve as a key point of contact between a company and the medical community. An MSL will typically have either a PhD, PharmD, or MD. But the DMSc is gaining ground

The MSL Society is dedicated to helping MSL professionals advance in their careers through membership, resources, networking, as well as training and development.

Examples: Medical Science Liasion, MSL Manager, Senior MSL, MSL-BC

The key to a successful transition to a nonclinical healthcare career is to identify one’s strengths, skills, and passions and seek out a position that aligns with these factors.

A nonclinical career may offer greater flexibility, higher pay, and less stress while still making a significant impact on the healthcare industry. Whether you’re looking for a change of pace or a new challenge, a nonclinical career could be the perfect option for you.

How to Transition to a Nonclinical Career as a PA

  • Do your research: Before making the transition, it’s important to research and understand the industry you’re interested in. This includes understanding the job market, required skills, salary expectations, and career progression opportunities.
  • Network: Networking is crucial when transitioning to a nonclinical career. Attend industry conferences, join professional organizations, and connect with people who work in the field. This can help you gain valuable insights and make important connections that can lead to job opportunities.
  • Gain additional education or training: Depending on the nonclinical career path you choose, you may need additional education or training. For example, if you’re interested in medical writing, you may need to take writing courses or get certified in medical writing.
  • Develop transferable skills: Identify the skills you have acquired through your clinical experience that are transferable to a nonclinical career. Examples include communication skills, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
  • Update your resume (affiliate link) and cover letter: When applying for nonclinical positions, it’s important to update your resume and cover letter to reflect your transferable skills and experience.
  • Be open to starting at an entry-level position: Starting at an entry-level position in a new industry may be necessary when transitioning to a nonclinical career. This can provide opportunities for learning and growth within the industry.
  • Be patient: Transitioning to a nonclinical career may take time and patience. Be prepared for a potentially longer job search and be open to temporary or part-time positions while you gain experience in the field.

Be prepared to educate potential employers: Nonclinical employers may not be familiar with the role of a physician assistant and the skills and experience you bring to the table. Be prepared to educate them on your clinical experience and how it can be applied to the nonclinical job.

Be open to starting at an entry-level position: Starting at an entry-level position may be necessary when transitioning to a nonclinical career as a physician assistant. This can provide opportunities for learning and growth within the industry.

Maybe Just Slow Down a Little?

While nonclinical careers offer many advantages, there are also some drawbacks to consider. For example, pursuing a nonclinical career may require additional education or training, and it may also result in a decrease in income and benefits.

Slowing down and reducing hours may be an alternative to pursuing nonclinical careers for physician assistants and doctors who wish to continue practicing medicine but want to achieve a better work-life balance. This approach can provide doctors with the flexibility and freedom to pursue other interests outside of medicine while still maintaining their clinical skills and staying connected to their patients.

Working fewer hours can also reduce stress and burnout, which are common issues among healthcare professionals. By reducing their workload, doctors can spend more time with each patient, provide higher-quality care, and avoid the pressures of a high-volume practice. 

Additionally, slowing down can provide doctors with the opportunity to focus on their own health and well-being, which can improve their overall quality of life and satisfaction with their careers.

Overall, slowing down and reducing hours can be a viable option for doctors who want to continue practicing medicine but desire a better work-life balance. However, it is important to carefully evaluate personal and financial goals before making this decision, as reducing hours may result in a reduction in income and benefits.

Did we miss any great nonclinical careers for physician assistants? Let us know in the comments below!

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