top of page

Job Options and Side Gigs for Physicians Without a Completed Residency

There is a significant number of physicians who graduate medical school but don’t end up completing a residency program. This could be for a number of reasons - they may have gone unmatched through the residency matching process, decided clinical medicine wasn’t for them, started residency but could not finish it or chose not to finish it for one reason or another, or decided from the get-go that they’d rather pursue another career either related to medicine or outside of medicine, such as venture capital or consulting. Many physicians elect to get an advanced degree along the course of their education, such as a MBA, a MPH, a MHA, a JD, or a MPA, and choose to pursue careers in related fields instead of practicing as a physician, and therefore decide they don’t need to finish residency. Regardless, over the years we’ve seen a lot of requests for job options and/or side gigs for physicians without a completed residency or who are not board certified in our Physician Side Gigs Facebook group. In this article, we cover many of the pathways for jobs and side gigs for those doctors who have completed medical school but did not complete a residency or who are not board eligible or board certified.

If you have completed a residency and want to learn more about side gigs for your specific specialty, check out our page of side gig ideas for different specialties. If your specialty hasn’t been featured yet, follow the series on Instagram, where we’ve featured more specialties.

Unique side gigs and job options for physicians without a completed residency

Quick Links

Jobs and Side Gigs for Physicians Without a Completed Residency

Medical Consulting

Many physicians have interests outside of medicine, and may see a way to combine their medical background with these interests. For those doctors that are inclined towards business and administrative fields, a popular option is joining a large consulting firm such as McKinsey, BCG, Bain, or Deloitte. Many of these firms have large healthcare arms and actively recruit physicians who have varied skillsets to weigh in on the projects of clients within the healthcare space. These can be very busy, high stress jobs that may rival the intensity of residency, or be more laid back, depending on the exact role. Additionally, these are generally competitive jobs to get, and an advanced degree such as an MBA would be helpful, as many of these companies recruits doctors from some of the top MBA programs. McKinsey actually has a program for physicians, where you gain experience and then have a pathway to come on.

Consulting isn’t limited to big consulting firms. Physicians may also find themselves as highly sought after consultants for movies or TV shows, health or public policy firms or agencies, health tech startups, or otherwise. It’s important to develop a niche and a brand that attracts the kinds of clients that you are seeking.

Learn more about:

Pharmaceutical Company Positions

If what led you to medical school was a love of the science side of things, pharmaceutical roles may be a good fit for you. That said, entry into this field by physicians is becoming more and more competitive as more physicians seek nonclinical positions, and many pharmaceutical companies are asking for post graduate training and/or clinical and research experience. Some are even asking for 5-10 years of clinical experience after residency. Keeping this in mind, there are still numerous positions within the pharma such as jobs at the scientist level in safety and clinical jobs and opportunities to get involved with clinical research or clinical research organizations. With that experience combined with the medical degree, it may be easier to eventually move up to a medical director or even executive level over time, rather than starting at a position at the physician level. You could also be involved on the pharma sales side as a pharmaceutical rep / representative if that excites you. 

Clinical Research Positions

Piggybacking off of the last category, there are ways to get involved with clinical research organizations outside of the pharmaceutical companies as well. There are clinical research organizations and companies that need principal investigators (PI positions) as well as doctors to help to conduct research before a trial goes live, work with pharmaceutical companies to come up with protocols or regulatory documents, doing medical safety reviews, overseeing trials at the umbrella level across multiple clinical research sites, serving as a liaison to physicians or other medical professionals who are involved in clinical trials, and helping put together a plan for go-to-market or for the launch of a product or trial. There are actually training programs for a lot of these positions, many of which may be sponsored by the companies, as well as specific certifications. Experience with statistics may be helpful as well in securing these positions.

Healthcare Administration Roles

If you have a passion for healthcare, but just don’t want to practice clinical medicine, and have an interest in the business side of medicine, it may be worth seeing if you want to pivot into the administrative side of things. Having more physicians in this space who have seen the on the ground clinical aspects of medicine would be a valuable asset in applying for these positions. If you’re going directly into this space and didn’t have a relevant undergraduate degree, most doctors will find it easier to qualify for these roles by getting an MBA, an MHA, or potentially another adjacent degree such as an MPH or MPA.

Clinical Informatics Jobs

There are several routes to staying in the clinical realm in the healthcare technology field. Informatics is essentially the field of how to use data, information and knowledge that is available within the field to improve human health and the delivery of health care services. There are clinical informatics fellowships, which generally require completion of a residency program and being board certified or board eligible, but there are jobs within informatics that do not require this fellowship. However, there are also many jobs in informatics available to those who have completed a bachelor's degree in a relevant field or have completed relevant college or masters level coursework, such as many of the classes you needed to take for premed requirements. Many employers also like to see a relevant degree in fields like information technology, statistics or data analysis, or data or computer science. If you didn’t have these classes in undergrad, pursuing a masters in one of those fields could be helpful.

The other route is pursuing a formal professional certification process, many of which require passing an exam, such as the Advanced Healthcare Informatics Certification (AHIC) from the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). 

Once you have the relevant expertise, you could choose to take roles such as being a clinical consultant for EPIC or other EMR companies, being involved in the design and operation of information and medical records storage and databases, helping medical systems and their employees implement new systems, testing out solutions that others have designed and identifying and solving errors to make them better, serving as a liaison between clinicians and hospital systems and IT companies, analyzing collective patient data and finding useful applications of this data, helping create IT policies for organizations, and more. 

Medical Editor, Writer, or Media Consultant

These days, content is king. There are so many companies within the healthcare space and even outside of the healthcare industry that require well written content about medical topics or medical education. There are opportunities to get involved in medical journalism, writing research protocols or IRB applications, grant writing, clinical trial reports, scripts for movies or TV shows, content for health tech or digital health startups, board review articles, textbooks, medical safety or protocols, or even medical fiction novels or nonfiction books. The possibilities in this space are plentiful depending on your interests and the salary that you need to have the lifestyle that you want.  

Health Tech Startup Founder or Venture Capitalist

This is becoming an increasingly popular route for physicians who decide that medicine isn’t right for them, with many physicians electing to defer residency altogether to pursue ideas they have for innovation in the health tech space. We’ve seen several physicians who have identified areas for improvement or innovation in healthcare and created relevant solutions, and turned them into very successful companies. Some people pursue these opportunities early in medical school or residency and end up feeling like the timing is right to pursue those ideas, and may actually leave residency or not apply to residency to chase these other interests, but carry with them the passion that they have for medicine and making a difference on a larger scale. We are always rooting for these founders!

Tutoring, Teaching, or Medical Educator

By the time you’ve finished medical school, you have a lot of education, which opens up lots of possibilities for transferring that knowledge to others. Many doctors like being involved with medical education on some level, whether it’s helping to write textbooks, create board review questions or teach for board review companies, teaching at universities or medical schools (or even high schools, as we’ve seen some members of our communities do!), or creating online courses for patients, premeds, or medical students. If you loved anatomy, you could go back and teach gross anatomy, or if you aced organic chemistry, you could teach orgo! You can also help to educate the public by creating courses or giving lectures on common disease states, writing content for companies in healthcare that are geared towards patient education, or working in the health policy or public health sector. You could write scripts for news segments. The possibilities are endless.

Health Policy or Public Health or Politician

Presumably, you went into medicine because you’re interested in the delivery of healthcare. There are so many ways of getting involved in health at scale and impacting patient’s lives outside of the hospital or office. If you’re passionate about public health, you could consider nonclinical roles within local, state, and government departments doing things like creating policies about vaccines, safety, or otherwise. You could help design protocols or policies or review funding ideas. You could also do similar work for nonprofit organizations or other companies within the space. You could also get involved in politics and try to address health disparities, equity, and so many other issues in healthcare that are prevalent today. Or you could try and help physicians fight the good fight and advocate as a lobbyist or representative from a medical society! Again, so many options. Getting an MPH or other relevant degree may expand your possibilities in this space.

Health Coach or Patient Care Navigator / Patient Advocate

Maybe you love patient care, but you don’t like being a physician in a typical clinical role, or you are frustrated with the current healthcare landscape and what it means to practice medicine in today’s day and age. If you’re entrepreneurial in nature, you may like the idea of helping patients to navigate their health by either becoming a health coach or patient care navigator. 

It is difficult enough to navigate the hurdles in the healthcare system as a physician - try being a patient who has to understand what’s being told for them, schedule appointments, learn about their disease, advocate for themselves, navigate insurance companies with prior authorizations and payments, explore clinical trials, coordinate different specialists, etc. It’s a disaster. Many patients would love someone who is familiar with the healthcare system and who understands both the science and the practical aspects of care delivery to help them in their healthcare journey. You could do this by creating relevant educational or practical content such as a blog, podcast, or courses, creating online communities, giving one of one consultations (not in a role as their doctor, but as a coach or person that explains things to them), or actually going to appointments with them. Many doctors have created relevant concierge type services or patient advocacy services. 

Learn more about becoming a physician coach.

Practice Management or Billing and Coding Related Jobs

This is another medicine adjacent field that may appeal to you, depending on the lifestyle you want, the revenue you need to generate, and of course, your interest in the business of medicine. We have seen entrepreneurial physicians actually create consulting groups in this space, or start billing and coding companies. The idea of becoming a clinical documentation improvement specialist (CDI) sometimes comes up on our communities as an option, although in our experience, physicians hired for this role usually need to be licensed and board certified, often with some real world clinical experience after residency, and many companies actually help physicians to maintain their license. It could be worth looking into what roles you can get in this space as a non-physician as well.

Medical Device Development or Representative

Similar to pharma positions, there are roles within medical device companies for those familiar with disease states and the interventions used to treat them. If you have an engineering background, you may want to combine this with your love of medicine to help design and engineer or test these devices, or you could be involved in the marketing or sales side.

Learn more about medical device development.

Non-Medical Careers

Of course, just because you’re a physician doesn’t mean that you have to pursue a career related to medicine. We’ve also seen physicians decide they wanted to do things outside of medicine, including completely out of the box options such as starting franchises as physicians, opening restaurants, starting dog walking services, being ski instructors, getting a law degree and practicing law, becoming politicians, becoming real estate agents or physician real estate investors, starting scrubs or fashion companies, or becoming artists, comedians, actors, or media personalities. You can probably name off a number of famous physicians that are no longer practicing medicine. The important thing is that whatever you pursue makes you happy and provides whatever financial security that you need.

Additional Resources

While we’ve outlined above some common side gig ideas for physicians who haven’t completed a residency, there’s always room for creativity. There’s so many other pathways we’ve seen physicians explore outside of the traditional clinical realm, but hopefully this post got the wheels turning in terms of different things that you could consider. If there’s something you’re passionate about and good at, look for ways to monetize it!

Dive deeper into some of the side gigs featured above, including:

You can also explore the following to learn more about our:

bottom of page