5 Most Lucrative Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians
Even with a thriving practice or competitive salary, there are many times when physicians need additional income to make ends meet. Student loans, monthly bills, or other debt obligations can quickly drain funds, but there are many lucrative opportunities for physicians to supplement their income without expanding their clinical practice.
Combining clinical and non-clinical work offers work balance, prevents future burnout, and provides new and creative insights into medicine that can improve clinical skills.
There are endless career choices for practicing physicians, but here are our top picks for the 5 most lucrative non-clinical careers.
1. Pharmaceutical Work
One of the most versatile and lucrative options for non-clinical work lies in the pharmaceutical industry. There are a variety of roles for physicians to choose from and they tend to offer generous compensation.
Pharmaceutical companies need medical professionals to present data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, write product reports, write and deliver speeches to other industry professionals and provide thought leadership and expertise in the industry. With so many options, it’s easy to find a role that speaks to a particular skill set.
It pays well. A short speech can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and many companies pay up to $100,000 to individual thought leaders. There are positions available for every experience level, though specialized physicians with more clinical experience and recognition tend to receive better compensation.
To be successful in this field, physicians need to have strong presentation and writing skills, as well as training on FDA-approved product labeling, the product line, and other policies and regulations. The costs and time required for the additional education are minimal in comparison to the benefits of the payoff.
2. Reviewing Insurance Claims
For part-time work that can be done remotely, insurance claim reviews are a great option. Insurance providers use independent review organizations for third-party perspectives in verifying the validity of insurance claims. A physician employed by an independent review organization is tasked with determining the medical necessity of claims that may have been flagged or denied.
Consulting services are also in high demand for gathering the additional information needed to complete clinical records. Physicians are crucial in the process of conducting thorough reviews of patient histories and treatments.
Independent review organizations typically pay between $85 and $200 per hour, depending on the physician’s qualifications, but this work does come with strict deadlines. There’s an expected 24-hour turnaround, and the work needs to be reliable and accurate.
Physicians seeking employment with an independent review organization usually spend one to two months obtaining their credentials and completing an online training program.
The National Association of Independent Review Organizations (NAIRO) maintains a list of available independent review organizations.
3. Acting as an Expert Witness
Serving as a part-time expert witness is exceptionally lucrative for a clinical physician. Though there are full-time expert witnesses that work with for specific law firms, case by case contract opportunities are easy to find. Most law firms value the strength and credibility that clinical experience provides through expert testimony.
Physicians can become expert witnesses in worker’s compensation, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases, as well as malpractice niches like product liability, patent cases, and life expectancy cases.
Medical expert witnesses earn a median fee of $350 per hour, and successful witnesses usually make between $2,000 and $5,000 per case. The associated work can range from simply taking the stand and offering an expert testimony, to writing a report and reviewing or preparing associated case files.
Serving as an expert witness is rewarding, intellectually-stimulating work with considerable compensation, but it is important to note that it’s accompanied by its own set of challenges. Taking the witness stand can be a stressful, daunting experience, especially with a skilled attorney who is prepared to challenge your claims.
Physician’s who want to work as an expert witness can apply directly to law firms or use an expert witness service, such as American Medical Forensic Specialists (AMFS).
For many physicians, writing is a great way to relieve stress and hone clinical skills, all while earning additional income. Physician writers have a variety of outlets to choose from, including self-publishing, traditional publishing, article writing, blogging, e-books, digital courses, and technical writing.
While medical and technical writing is in high demand, physicians can also pursue a writing career in a non-medical niche, such as technology, marketing, or journalism. There are also opportunities in creative writing, such as novels or script writing.
Aside from supplemental income, establishing yourself as a thought leader or authority may also lead to speaking, teaching, or consulting opportunities, as well as boosting your clinical practice.
While writing is one of the most flexible forms of supplemental income for physicians, it does require a bit more labor than some of the other options. Aspiring writers must develop their skills, market themselves or their product, and learn what sells in order to be successful.
Much like writing, consulting is a flexible way for physicians to supplement their clinical practice and determine their own rates. Typically, physician consulting focuses on the industry-client relationship, as opposed to the patient-physician relationship, and puts critical thinking and medical knowledge to use in improving industry practices.
Physician consulting can cover a wide range of medical industries, such as healthcare information technology, product development, pharmaceuticals, insurance, as well as related fields like medical malpractice law or biotechnology.
Physicians can also consult in niches that are completely unrelated to medicine, provided they can solve the associated problems and provide value to their clients. Sales, marketing, leadership, or management are some other consulting options that can benefit from medical expertise, though there are virtually limitless niches to choose from.
Consulting is not a one-size-fits-all career, but successful consultants are typically knowledgeable, confident, and skilled at networking and building relationships. Physician consultants can either work out of a consulting firm with an established clientele or as independent contractors who handle their own marketing and client acquisition.
Ready to Get Started?
Whether your goal is higher income, professional balance, or an intellectual challenge, a career in medicine offers many lucrative opportunities for part-time work in related fields. Physicians can easily leverage their knowledge, training, and practical experience into a rewarding career in a variety of industries.
The National Physicians Conference and Tradeshow (NPC) focuses on these and other ways to increase earnings, from adopting supplemental careers to improving the efficiency of your medical practice. Learn more at npcmd.org.