There are, however, many career options within clinical settings that are a good fit for the skills and experience of many medical graduates without residency or board certification. These don’t require an active state medical license and, therefore, don’t involve the actual practice of medicine.
The job types detailed below are about as close as you can get to catering to the typical interests of a practicing doctor, without settling for work that is low paying, not challenging, or irrelevant to your medical degree.
A word about salaries
I’ve tried to include high-paying jobs in this list, but you’ll quickly see that the salary ranges (obtained from Glassdoor) don’t come close to the average salaries of licensed, board-certified physicians in the US. If you feel strongly about having a high compensation, consider these options:
- Look outside the healthcare delivery setting at some higher-paying nonclinical jobs
- Go back to school to earn another professional degree
- Find ways to make extra money, such as by having a side gig
That said, as a doctor, you’re likely to see significant salary increases, promotions, and higher-paying opportunities if you excel at any of the jobs described below.
Jobs for medical graduates without residency in a clinical setting
Whether you were unsuccessful in the residency match, are an IMG who doesn’t want to complete another training program, or won’t complete residency for some other reason, give these career paths some thought.
1. Program Director
Job titles similar to Program Director include Health Services Administrator and Clinical Director. In certain cases, the title Executive Director is used. Government-owned or -affiliated clinics or programs are more likely to use the title Health Services Administrator.
Possible clinical settings for this job include:
- Substance use disorder treatment center
- Hospice service
- Correctional facility
- Rehab center
The Program Director oversees the operations of a clinical program or facility. Responsibilities include directing program infrastructure, staff supervision, program financial management, ensuring that policies and protocols are adhered to.
I’ve intentionally listed this job first, as I believe it represents one of the most relevant clinical-setting jobs for medical graduates without residency that is both easily attainable and well-compensated.
My experience working in outpatient addiction medicine and in various correctional settings has been that the Program Director or Health Services Administrator is closely involved with the care of patients. Since the ultimate role of the facility is to provide patient care, a lot of the director’s work is directly or tangentially related to clinical decision-making.
In this role, you can expect to work with physicians and other practitioners, ensuring that they have the support and resources needed to effectively provide patient care.
Program directors earn $81,195 per year on average, with a range from $48,000 to $132,000.
2. Clinical Quality Specialist
A Clinical Quality Specialist is responsible for the coordination and ongoing monitoring of quality improvement program objectives within a hospital or healthcare system. This job also involves facilitating accreditation activities as they relate to quality and ensuring that quality programs meet governing body standards.
This is a fitting role for someone with a medical degree, as many quality metrics are closely tied to clinical data and patient care. Data collection, abstraction, analysis, and reporting of quality measures may be a significant component of the job.
The Clinical Quality Specialist often works closely with clinicians and practitioners. Having a similar background to them can assist in developing successful quality programs and effective communication.
Similar job titles include Clinical Quality Reviewer, Quality Performance Specialist, and variations on these.
Though the average salary for a clinical quality specialist is only $42,000, with a range from $30,000 to $68,000, there is ample room to move up to higher-paying positions. Quality is a huge priority for hospitals and health systems. Most have an entire department or team dedicated to quality. There are many potential positions of varying seniority and responsibility that are of interest to doctors.
Another advantage is that there is little standardization with regard to credentials for professionals working in quality improvement. Your medical degree may help land you a job, and you won’t be held back by lacking other degrees or certifications.
3. Clinical Trial Coordinator
A Clinical Trial Coordinator or Clinical Research Coordinator plans, directs, and coordinates multiple, on-going clinical research studies with a healthcare system center or division.
Responsibilities can include:
- Patient recruitment
- Screening patients for trial eligibility and conducting initial patient assessments
- Providing information to study participants
- Training staff on research study processes and policies
- Analyzing patient data during study involvement
- Maintaining medical charts
- Submitting reports and study correspondence
Given the complexity of clinical trials, coordinators are crucial for successfully enrolling patients and ensuring they receive appropriate care and monitoring throughout their participation.
This job is an option for an IMG who has completed residency training in another country and would like to continue working within their area of specialty. Most clinical research coordinators work without a medical department, such as oncology or ophthalmology.
This job comes with an average salary of $57,795 and can range from $42,000 to $74,000.
4. Performance Improvement Consultant
Like quality improvement, performance improvement has increased in importance for hospitals and healthcare systems. Medical graduates – even without a residency – are fitting for performance improvement roles because they understand and speak the same language as the physicians and other clinicians who are the focus of performance improvement efforts.
A Performance Improvement Consultant, Specialist, or Manager, is responsible for leading services and programs that support the development of continuous performance improvement activities. The role involves collaborating with human resources, clinical, financial, IT, and other teams.
This job pays pretty well, with an average salary of $75,397 and ranges from $60,000 to $94,000.
I recently saw a job ad for a Manager of Clinical and Performance Improvement that was advertising a starting salary of over $150,000. This was with a consulting firm, rather than with a hospital, which is yet another job option for a medical graduate without a license.
5. EHR Training Specialist
An EHR Training Specialist is responsible for user training and aspects of implementation or rollout of clinical IT applications in a healthcare setting. Similar job titles include EHR Trainer, EHR Implementation Specialist, and Clinical Applications Trainer.
Many EHR trainer jobs are geared toward those with an IT background, so look for jobs that are specifically seeking someone with a clinical background.
In addition to direct training, this role may include writing training protocols, developing user manuals and reference guides for clinicians, and providing support to users after an EHR go-live.
The average salary for an EHR Training Specialist is $52,000. There is a fairly narrow salary range (from $52,000 to $76,000). Nonetheless, if you demonstrate an ability to teach and connect with other clinicians and have some amount of competence in clinical informatics, you can likely progress to roles with broader responsibility and higher pay.
Unmatched IMGs and other medical graduates without residency have many options when it comes to employment in a clinical setting.
Though you may not be able to directly diagnose and treat patients, you can definitely use your medical knowledge and skills in a position that impacts patient care and helps to treating clinicians do their jobs effectively.
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