Interested in a nonclinical career, but not sure what options are out there?
Need some ideas on where to start looking for a new career path?
If you’d like to explore the many nonclinical physician career possibilities outside of medicine, this episode with John Jurica is for you.

In This Episode of The Career Rx We’ll Discuss:

  • Career options that don’t require a license or board certification
  • Nonclinical physician roles in and outside the hospital setting
  • Medical writing, scientific communications, and the business of CME

Today I have a special guest, Dr. John Jurica, to answer some questions about potential non clinical career options. His expertise in the possibilities out there for doctors looking to change careers is highlighted on his podcast Physician NonClinical Careers where I’ve been a guest before as well. I also credit him with sparking the idea of starting this very podcast.

By the end of this episode, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the variety of more flexible options out there for listeners like you looking to transition out of the clinical side of medicine.

In this Episode:

[1:00] Special welcome to John Jurica
[2:50] Cracking open those possibilities
[4:40] Is one of these your most pressing question?
[6:10] Don’t let lack of board certification hold you back
[8:15] Considering medical writing work?
[10:30] How to find CME writing opportunities
[12:12] Learning to look around you with an open mind
[13:30] Exploring medical communications
[15:10] There’s a constant demand for this position
[17:00] Taking yourself out of the “specialist box”
[19:10] Getting tapped to be the expert
[20:20] What to ignore during your job search

Links and Resources:

The Branding Rx 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

John Jurica’s Resources:
20 page downloadable guide: 10 Nonclinical Careers You Can Pursue Today
On demand webinar replay: Best Options for an Interesting and Secure Nonclinical Job



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 66 – Unlimited Physician Career Options with John Jurica [Part 1]

Hey there, I’m Marjorie Stiegler and you’re listening to The Career Rx Podcast, where we tackle the important things they don’t teach you in medical school. Like how to treat your career, like the business it really is, with strategies to accelerate the kind of success that you want, because you deserve a career you love, and a career that loves you back. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

So welcome back, everybody to The Career Rx. As you know, on this podcast, what we’re most wanting to do is make sure that physicians know that there are just endless ways to make a difference as a physician, and to be able to take your career really in any direction that you choose. So today, I have the distinct pleasure of having Dr. John Jurica, of the Physician NonClinical Careers podcast as a guest on my own podcast, so well known in the non clinical world. Welcome to the show, John, thanks for being here.

Hi, Marjorie, I’m very happy to be here. I’m very honored to be here. I love your podcast. So it’s good to see you.

Thank you, it’s great to be with you. And I appreciate your kind words about my podcast. You know, I’ve been on your podcast a few times, as you know. And you might not know this you have and you inspired me to start my own. I was already doing a lot of blogs and Facebook Live and video and content like that. But you and I had a discussion. After recording the last time I was on your show all about just podcasting. And then I got kind of inspired. And I remember you said you know, you got to give it a year be consistent stick to it and see if you’re still there after that. And if you are then it’s great. And so I’ve just passed roughly maybe 62 or 63 episodes, and it’s been a COVID year, so I’m feeling pretty okay about it.

Congratulations, that’s good. The consistency, it really makes a difference. And people know you’re there and they look forward to it. And if you miss it, sometimes they’re like, where did she go? But no, it’s great. I listened to it. And I like it.

Thank you so much. You know, I invited you on the show because as you know, especially from the stuff I’ve done together on your show, I’ve been helping doctors with things like branding and business speaking and all that for really some years now. But for myself, I took departure or retirement from clinical medicine in 2017. And I’ve started working non clinically in those other realms and also as an exec in pharma. But so I get asked all the time now, I mean, ever since then from many physicians and how to get into non clinical careers. And of course, my specialty is on the how to do it right? How to get there. But you are very, very famous for the what right? What are the possibilities. So if somebody wanted to follow directly in my footsteps, I can guide them through, you know how to get into pharma, or if they already know what they want to do. I feel like even if I don’t know that much about it, I can help get them. I can help them with the how. But the big topic for today, I think is really cracking open those possibilities and understanding the what. Now I know, we send people to your website, which we will post in the show notes for sure. And you can tell folks where to go that you have many resources with, you know, 20 options, 50 options, I mean, endless options. So that exists. And I want people to know they can get more from you that way. But I was hoping we could spend some time today talking about some of those best options, or just whichever ones you know, you would like to make sure people know about.

That sounds like fun. And the ones that I probably know the most about are the ones that I have done. And the ones that I’ve interviewed people about. There’s still many, many options for jobs and careers that I’ve I really don’t know that well. I’m aware of their existence, but I’ve not found someone to interview yet. Some of them are a little cagey. So, but no, be happy to share anything that I’ve learned so far. In the past three or four years, I’ve been doing this.

Yeah, great. Okay, I have a few sort of categories written down. And just, you know, for my listeners to know, I John, I did not prep this. So I might have some categories that do fall into that cagey one. In which case, if you’re listening, and you, you are that doctor, let us know. And you can come be on John’s show or my show. That’s right. These are some of the ones that are sort of most commonly asked of me. So I’m going to, I’m going to rattle them all off at once so that you okay, something that you want to focus on or and or of course, because you’re the expert here, you have other ones to tell me about the we should talk about.

So the questions that I get asked the most where it seems like people are really still in that curiosity and discovery phase where they have really no idea what they want to do yet are questions like, you know, what kind of non clinical work can I do? If I have not, if I’m not board certified, or if I haven’t practiced in the US? Yep. Or what kinds of non clinical jobs can I do if I am a and then you know, fill in the blank with whatever specialists they are right? If I’m a pediatrician, or radiologist or whatever it is, and then what kind of non clinical jobs can I do without having to go back to school for another degree? I know many of my listeners know, I think for the most part, you can do anything without another degree. But that’s a common question. And also, what kind of non clinical jobs can I do if I really do want to stay pretty closely connected to clinical practice? So I guess I’m thinking about people who want to do something in the hospital or an admin, right? They don’t want to, they don’t want to go away from what they view as clinical environments, but they want to move up perhaps right and leadership there. And then the final category that I’m going to throw out for your consideration is what can I do non clinically if I want to get just completely away from medicine entirely? So something that’s creative, and that really is a career, right? That pays the bills that could leverage the same kinds of skill sets that physicians have. But that’s just straight up, not medicine. So that’s what I have for you, you can add to that, and maybe we can just go. I’ll let you drive, you hit the ones, what do you think?

Okay, so I think I can give you an answer some of my comments, at least the first five and the number six, there is going to be to think about that one a little bit longer. Okay, so a common question that I get. So the first one was about not being board certified and not being licensed, I would say thrown it out and not being having residency training. So it’s very common, we have a lot of, well, we have people who just chose not to proceed, they just found out they hated what they were doing in med school or something like that. I mean, there’s a lot of foreign medical grads that come here, and they’re not able to find a residency for whatever reason. So those are probably the two biggest reasons that I come across. So yeah, there are definitely some categories that I typically talk about that I have personally seen people transition into, without the license and without the residency training.

So I guess we’ll go quickly because we have a lot of ground to cover here. So the big ones there are in your field, medical science liaison, you probably you’ve seen those, perhaps, but I’ve talked to many MSLs, who did not have and it took them a while to get this. I mean, it takes a little work getting there. But they were able to do it. I also know of a guest who was looking to do MSL work, and he ended up being hired as a medical monitor. And I don’t know if he was working for a CRO or if he was working directly for a pharma company probably CRO, if I remember correctly. So those are two in the pharma industry that you’re probably well familiar with. The other massive one in a way is because of the number of jobs and the types of jobs is medical writer, you really don’t have to be… now if you’re going to be an expert in writing, you know, epilepsy, you better be a neurologist or, you know, something like that. But there are many medical writers who can go out they can do freelance writing, they can, they might not be the best for let’s say doing CME, you know, again, for some specialty area, but in the medical writers, you know, again, they might even be able to get into technical writing, because I think, whether it’s in pharma or elsewhere, they just want that skill, that that knowledge, you’re a scientist, you understand medicine, you understand medications, or what have you, you can do technical writing. You can do journalistic writing, I mean, so there’s a number of medical writing jobs, that would be a potential.

I asked you a question with that. So, you know, I think most people listening understand that they’re scientists, they know they have medical knowledge, what I think feels like that black box to them is well, what does it mean to be a medical writer. And since you, I think, I’ve interviewed many, many people, it just kind of rolls right off the tongue that they could do technical writing CME writing, they could do a number of different kinds of writing. But can you take a moment to sort of elaborate on that if like, Who are they writing for? Right? Who’s paying their bills? Who did they go get a blob with? Or what does that look like?

You know, like a lot of these jobs, they’re different formats you can work in. So when I think what people think about is freelance medical writing is sort of the easiest to get into. But it’s the least likely to pay you at least at the front end, and it’s going to take a while. And so but that’s one option, but the people that do that and devote months of, you know, to learning it and doing it properly. I mean, they create an LLC, they find different types of organizations that publish the kinds of material they want to write, let’s say CME, there are probably, I don’t know, there’s at least 6000 providers of CME in the country right now used to be a surveyor for the ACCME. So I mean, I’ve interviewed and done surveys and a lot of these organizations, and many of them create what we call them during materials, which are basically written materials or scripts for video materials. And they need people to write those. All of these organizations have their own information for authors. So I mean, the shortcut I’ve told some people is to go to the ACCME website, and they have a list of every CME provider in the country, including the state based so there’s so many, it’s not always easy to find out which of those people are hiring freelance writers, but you can kind of get an idea that could go, they could just go to the site, their website, request the information for authors see how it looks, see, you know how easy or difficult it might be depending on your background. And then start submitting and they you know, for that you get paid from the beginning, it’s just the hard parts getting the first second or third paper, but once they know you, they will give you repeat business. So most freelance writers can, over a period of time get three or four different organizations that they can consistently provide. Writing for.

One of the things you just said right now, that’s so important as you look around, because, you know, as physicians, we’ve all had to take CME, right, we’ve all taken CME and when we’ve delivered CME, it’s been in the context of maybe Grand Rounds or something like that. But there is an entire CME industry, which is what you have basically just alluded to, there’s a private CME industry, someone has to create that content. Sometimes it’s freelance, sometimes it’s employed, but those are jobs. Similarly, when we look in journal articles, even just as you’re flipping through, you’ll sometimes see that acknowledgement that there was support for writing, right, writing support for the article that the authors of the article didn’t write it all itself. And that’s sometimes as a freelancer or an agency. Right?

Right. Now, you’re talking about even some of the scientific publications. Yeah, yeah. And then you have all of the what we used to call throwaways, you know, but those are everyone, you know, most people that are practicing read those, like, I interviewed someone who became the editor for I think it was Podiatry Today. And she did a little bit of writing, she was doing editing when she was running like one of the professional societies. And then she just flipped over from clinical and went and became an editor for that. And she’s extremely busy. But it’s not a freelance, you know, she gets paid a salary, she works normal hours. And she actually is editing and reviewing other people’s writing.

Yeah, that’s great. So we just look around and see, you know, Where, where, if you’re the if you’re the user of something, right, you’re the receiver of CME, or you’re the reader of a journal article, there’s probably a doctor on the other side somewhere who has a job. And maybe you could actually,

Yeah, and again, like one of those throat, so called throwaway look at the front of the front page or whatever, where they put the publisher’s name and inquiries, you just pick up the phone or email somebody there and say, “Well, do you have some instructions for authors?” What would be the parameters under which I would, you know, submit something and, you know, I talked to somebody, one of my guests, I’m not going to name him, but he went for 10 years. And what he would do is he would attend conferences. And he would then write like six or seven or eight articles for various throwaways for 10 years, he traveled the world. And then he went back into clinical after he did that, he does not recommend that because it’s almost impossible to do that this day and age, but he actually, you know, he paid his entire, you know, income was all from that kind of writing. And he had publishers that just took everything that he wrote, that’s remarkable, just the conference, round up sort of, and he just gets to go and learn and write about it. Fantastic. Okay, what else?

Medical communications is similar to writing but it’s the, you know, the ad agencies for the pharmacies, or pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies. And then you of course, consulting, anybody can become a consultant, there’s no special certification. Now, if you want to work for Accenture, or you know, one of these big healthcare consulting firms, sometimes they want to have someone who’s trained and you know, certified. But oftentimes, they’ll take some who has not gone through residency because they don’t, they don’t want them to be sort of, they want them to be an open book for their way of thinking, and their way of doing things. Now, that requires a lot of travel. But consulting firms is definitely something where you should look into that is because they look at you with the MD as equivalent to a PhD or pharm D, and they can just plug you in. Last one I would mention this category is that I knew someone or I know someone who became a physician advisor for clinical documentation improvement in a hospital setting. And he did not have board certification. He didn’t go to residency and he’s very successful. He did it. He was working for the hospital, then he worked for a third party, and then I think he’s doing some freelancing now.

That’s great. And so obviously, we don’t have time on this podcast to explain to people all the details behind all of the possibilities, but I want to give you know, it’s great to give the listeners some flavor for what that is. So if I understand correctly, a physician advisor in the way that you just described it as basically a physician who works for the hospital, who ensures that documentation is sufficient to get reimbursed right? Helps the hospital get paid.

That’s absolutely right. So the CFO loves the CDI. But the other reason there’s so important now is that’s how you get ranked and your quality metrics, from health grades and from Medicare. It all depends on documentation coding. So every health system and hospital should have CDI personnel. So there’s a constant demand for that.

Yeah, that’s really interesting. And again, is another example of you know, if you’re the recipient or user of something, or person, sort of, if you’re the physician on one side, there’s probably a physician on the other side, doing the non clinical part of that work. And maybe in this example of they feel, perhaps at odds with each other. But nonetheless, it’s important to know like, that’s how you can look around and say, what kind of jobs are out there? And what kind of experience is of value to them? And I just heard you saying, you know, understanding documentation, reimbursement and quality metrics, right, right, well, important. Okay, what else, we can move on to a different category or whatever else?

You let’s move on? Let’s talk about the specialist. Yeah, issue, I get that question all the time. And really, my experience over the last few years is that it doesn’t really matter in the sense that I have seen UM doctors, you know, people go into the UM with every background, you can imagine, they’re always thinking, Well, I’m a cardiac surgeon, or I’ma, oh, you know, I’m a pediatrician. But really, they train you, you’re saying you’re a physician, you understand medicine, most of the time, they will train you and take you no matter what specialty now, they’ll ask for preferred specialty. But for that, in particular, usually doesn’t make a huge difference in pretty much everything else. I would say there’s some exclusions, obviously, if you’re a pediatrician, you’re probably not gonna become a CMO at a hospital that does only adult medicine, I mean, they’re going to look for a pediatrician. But I would say 90% of time, the the nature of your specialty doesn’t really matter. It’s more finding something you’d love to do.

And it’s so important, because I get that same question often, which is why I wrote it down here, you know, as people tend to think of themselves in the smallest sort of most narrow way, which is whatever their specialty or subspecialty training was. But in fact, if you zoom out, people who are interested to hire you non clinically are doing so because you’re a physician, not because you are a sub specialists, right. So tell people just briefly about UM, because I know that’s definitely very popular, but a lot of my listeners might not know what that is.

So utilization management, and we kind of use a term broadly, you know, you kind of overlaps with case management, it overlaps with benefits management. But when I started, I was a physician advisor for us in the hospital. That’s really where it came from. And but the thing is, nowadays, major, costly procedures, and testing needs to be approved at some level by somebody. So if it’s in the hospitals, somebody in the hospital has to get it approved. If it’s outside the hospital, then the insurance company or a delegate of the insurance company has to approve it. So you most what they call UM is usually benefits, and you know, review, and getting approval for MRIs and CTS and surgeries and things. And that’s, again, outside the hospital by the insurance company or its delegate the other thing. I’m trying to think the other third, there’s something called IRO, I think, independent review organizations, and they kind of do the same thing, and really just need to learn the criteria that they use to justify certain procedures. And there is room for advancement in those just like in pharma or elsewhere. I mean, you can move up the chain, you can get into management and leadership. And it’s a good way to get started in non clinical if it fits with your personality and your interest.

And so when I think about what a person is doing there, they’re either using internal documentation flows, or they’re using guidelines to sort of determine whether what’s documented, meets that standard of care or, or that guideline or that pathway. So, so in that regard, I mean, if you’re a physician, you could learn that even if it’s outside of your trained specialty. Yeah, I would, I would add to that one thing, and that was some of the specialists what they find once they get into that role, and they’re doing the generic kind of work that they’re, they’re often tapped to be the expert, because what happens is eventually, you have a request, which doesn’t fit into any guideline, and somebody has to make a decision. And so they’re gonna go to the physician for that. So like, I knew a physician, I think he was a cardiac. He’s a cardiologist I think for pedes. And, you know, he’s doing the general UN but at some point, he became the internal expert for you know, cardiac problems and kids and so they’ve come to him when that one came up.

Fantastic. So he’s able to do a broader amount of work but still kind of be tapped for his specialty focus. I think, you know, one of the things that we hear a lot from from people who are asking us, you and me, is that they’ll say but the job says it’s required to have you know, internal medicine specialty or something like that. Similarly, in pharma, a lot of people will say I don’t see any jobs for so and so a specialist. But as you know, I mean, I’m an anesthesiologist by training, and I work in respiratory and antimicrobials. I don’t work in anesthetics. So I do all kinds of work that’s different from your specialty. And it sounds like, even if they’re listing that on the job posting for UM, that’s just that shouldn’t hold people back from pursuing it.

Know It, if you can get a little insight, it helps. But I would say if you were ever hiring people in general, you would know this, because you would say, How many times have I put an ad out there for somebody and somebody just kind of got close to it, you know, they weren’t what I was looking for. They weren’t what I was asking for, but I’m not getting anyone else applying. I’m gonna give this person a shot, and I’m gonna train them for the parts, they don’t know. And it’s gonna be fine. So, I mean, it’s true of all really recruiting. I mean, it’s very rare that an employer saying you absolutely have to have this, well, you might have to have a license in the state, you know, for a hospital where you’re working, even if you’re CMO, which I don’t understand why that is, but it is usually true. But other than that, if you can get close, and then you have to put your sales hat on, and you got to sell yourself during those interviews and on the phone and so forth. Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, we focus on that quite a bit in my work, sort of the how of how to present yourself in that way. But just so important for people to know they’re these opportunities out there, and that they don’t stop exploring them, just because they have a preconceived notion that they’re only open to certain backgrounds, certain training and things like that, because it’s almost never the case.

Ok – we’ll be back next week with part 2.

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