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The best trade and scholarly journals for physician leadership, non-clinical careers, industry jobs, and executive positions

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There is a massive amount to learn when transitioning to a non-clinical career or beginning a physician leadership role in administration or an executive position. In many cases, this transition requires learning the non-clinical sides of healthcare delivery, such as finance and business operations. In other cases, it means becoming familiar with a different industry entirely, such as pharmaceuticals.

Trade publications are a great way to familiarize yourself with an industry’s:

  • Hot topics
  • Lingo
  • Controversies
  • Latest advancements
  • Big names and experts

Moreover, trade journal articles are heavily dependent on advertisers. Reading them gives you a chance to get to know the major players through sponsors and advertisers. You can also get some exposure to the newest products and technologies in the industry.

For physicians still in busy clinical roles who are considering a transition to a physician leadership role or a non-clinical position, trade publications are a way to make progress in clarifying your career goals without much time or effort. They are easy-reading in a printed format that you can take to your couch after a day in the clinic or hospital.

Trade journals to check out if you’re exploring non-clinical careers

There are a wide variety of trade publications that may be of interest to certain physician leadership positions. Below are 8 that are some of the most broadly relevant to physicians in transition, in no particular order.

1. Medical Economics

Chances are you’ve read at least a handful of Medical Economics articles online. There is also a print version of this publication that’s specifically geared toward physicians.

Here’s how Medical Economics describes itself: “Medical school doesn’t quite teach doctors what they need to know about ACA, EHRs and EMRs, ICD-10, patient relations, malpractice, or personal finance. We provide expert advice and shared experiences necessary for physicians to keep their practices as healthy as their patients.”

This publication is a great read for doctors of any type, really – clinical or non-clinical.

2. Physician Leadership Journal

American Association of Physician Leadership’s flagship publication, the Physician Leadership Journal, calls itself “the voice of physician leadership.” It includes articles on the topic of physician careers, finance, the healthcare profession, leadership and management, and health policy.

This journal is pertinent to a broad range of physicians, though most relevant to those interested in hospital or healthcare system administrative roles, such as CMO.

It includes some peer-reviewed articles, making it somewhat of a cross between a trade publication and a scholarly journal. It’s a comfortable mix for many physicians.

3. Pharmaceutical Executive

Physicians interested in a career in the pharmaceutical industry should thumb through a free issue or two of Pharmaceutical Executive. Though your first pharma job is unlikely to be an executive position, it may be a Medical Director or other role with seniority and leadership responsibilities.

Pharmaceutical Executive serves as a forum for pharma industry leaders to exchanges insights, opinions, and experiences. With topics ranging from finance to sales to R&D, it covers a lot of issues that new pharmaceutical physicians often need to get up to speed on.

4. Managed Care

Jobs with healthcare payors and medical benefits management companies are popular among physicians wishing to leave clinical medicine but who want to continue to utilize their medical skills. Pick up an issue of Managed Care if you’re in this situation.

Managed Care publishes in-depth reports, news, expert commentary, and original research on medicine, pharmacy, and biotechnology as they relate to managed care.

5. Healthcare Innovation

If healthcare informatics, health IT, and health management technology are of interest to you, Healthcare Innovation is a journal to help you delve into the field. You’ll get exposed to the current topics and language of clinical informatics, analytics, AI, population health informatics, interoperability, and more.

This publication is meant not just for IT directors, but physicians and other leaders whose jobs touch on technological innovations in healthcare.

6. Bloomberg Businessweek

Really more of a popular magazine than a trade journal, Bloomberg Businessweek provides information and interpretation about events in the business world. Topics include global economics, political policies, finance, and technology.

This is a fitting publication for physicians interested in consulting or starting their own business. Additionally, those who are just beginning to explore all the possible ways in which they could use their medical experience outside of clinical settings can find some inspiration in this publication.

7. McKinsey Quarterly

Physicians and medical students eyeing management consulting as a career should check out McKinsey Quarterly. You’ll learn about management theory, organization theory, economic issues, leadership, and other subjects that will make you a better business consultant.

8. Modern Healthcare

A leading source of news, research, and information on healthcare business and policy, Modern Healthcare, aims to help leaders in healthcare organizations make informed business decisions.

Through this publication, you’ll learn about healthcare transformation, best practices in running a healthcare organization, and updates related to healthcare payment, oversight, and quality.

Scholarly journals for physician leadership and non-clinical jobs

Trade journals provide industry-specific news and information targeted toward a particular profession. The articles tend to be brief with few citations, focusing on practical information. They’re written by a variety of writers, including experts in the field, staff writers, and journalists.

Compare this to the scholarly journals that we’re used to seeing as medical students and physicians. These are written by researchers, and they are extensively cited, and peer-reviewed. Scholarly publications can also be extremely helpful to physicians moving to non-clinical or administrative roles.

Here are several scholarly journals that are especially relevant to physicians starting to explore their options:

Health Affairs

Health Affairs is a leading peer-reviewed journal on the topics of health policy thought and research. It covers health reform, health equity, healthcare financing, and spending, and many more topics applicable to physicians working in policy-specific roles or in any leadership position influenced by health policy.

Journal of Healthcare Management

The Journal of Healthcare Management is published by the American College of Healthcare Executives and aims to inform and guide leaders, managers, educators, and researchers about a variety of topics important in healthcare management. It touches on health policy, health professions, health systems, and also includes interviews with leading healthcare executives.

Journals to read once you’ve identified a non-clinical career area

If you’re beyond the contemplation phase of transitioning your job, many other scholarly journals become relevant, depending on where you’re headed. They’ll introduce you to some of the latest research in a field, but won’t give you a broad overview of the news, trends, and products in an industry like the publications listed above.

For example, the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association is a must-read for physicians in clinical informatics. The Journal for Healthcare Quality is a great resource for doctors in quality improvement and related roles.

Other great publications for physician leaders: university magazines

In addition to trade journals, some physicians exploring non-clinical careers may want to take a look at university publications – particularly magazines published by medical schools. Start by checking your alma mater, as these are often made available for free to alumni.

Here are a few high-quality medical school publications:

Stanford Medicine is a quick look at the latest developments and research highlights taking place at Stanford.

Harvard Medicine captures the work of the Harvard Medical School community and its contributions to human health.

Hopkins Medicine covers the latest biomedical discoveries from Hopkins, innovative healthcare developments, and expert opinions from some of the world’s leading physicians. From another college of the same institution, the Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health Magazine providers similar insights from a public health perspective.


If you’re considering a career transition, pick up a trade journal that aligns with what you think you may want to do or the sector you think maybe a good fit for you. They are an easily accessible window into a professional world that you’re probably not exposed to in your clinical work.

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