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Difference Between Clinical And Non-Clinical Jobs With Examples

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The primary difference between clinical and non-clinical jobs has to do with whether you have direct contact with the patient being treated or not.

A physician or a qualified health professional supervises the clinical staff, and the clinical staff member is allowed by law, regulation, and facility policy to perform or assist in the performance of a specified professional service, but the direct reporting authority is not to the physician or the qualified health professional. The term clinician encompasses healthcare professionals qualified in the clinical practice of medicine. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, or other allied health professionals are clinicians. 

The American College of Physicians described the health professionals-physicians, clinical pharmacists, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, and other health care professionals as clinical staff – with the training and skills needed to prescribe medicines and medical treatments for patients. 

In medical usage, clinicians strictly define patient-care specialists, whereas other physicians focus on education, research, and administrative work. 

Non-clinical medical jobs and roles include:

  • Medical Director
  • Clinical Research Physicians
  • Physician Clinical Reviewer
  • Clinical Documentation Specialist
  • Healthcare Administration Jobs
  • Physician Advisors
  • Senior Safety Physicians
  • Public Health Physicians
  • Pharmacovigilance Physicians
  • Physician Liaison
  • medical billers and coders,
  • transcriptionists, 
  • hospital executives, 
  • Anyone who works backstage at a hospital, such as human resources, IT, biomedical technicians, administrative assistants, etc.
  • Non-clinical staff do not provide any type of medical treatment or testing for any patient. They engage with patients but do not provide medical care or treatment of any kind. Their services are administrative or related to payments.

Chief Clinical Roles

The clinical roles where the medical professional looks after/treat the patient directly:

1. Physician (MD):

Physicians are the first point of contact with the patient. The higher the physicians rise in the private practice organization or hospital hierarchy, the more likely they have other administrative duties. When physicians hold positions such as Department head or Chief Administrator, they are less likely to have one-on-one contact with the patient.

2. Hospitalist (MD): 

A hospitalist is a physician specialized in the care of hospitalized patients. Hospitalists are board-certified internal medicine specialists and uniquely aware of all the needs of hospitalized patients. He does not have to do any administrative work unless directly related to his work. 

3. Physician Assistant (PA): 

A PA works under a physician and provides a broad range of healthcare services traditionally performed by a physician. He also provides support medical services to the physician. These include physical examination, diagnosis and treatment, ordering tests, preventive health care, educating the patients medically, assisting the surgeon during operations, and writing medical orders for treatment and prescriptions.

A physician assistant (PA) may be a mid-level healthcare provider. PAs may diagnose illnesses, develop and manage patient treatment plans, prescribe medications, and function as principal healthcare providers.  

In the United States, PAs are registered as licensed medical practitioners by the respective bodies for providing such licensing. PAs complete their training in a short time than a standard medical degree and don’t complete any residency training.

4. Nurse practitioner (NP): 

An NP is a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed medical professional who has completed a master’s degree and advanced practice certification. NPs provide the same level of medical care and treatment as primary care physicians and can substitute for the physician and manage the patient’s round-the-clock healthcare.

5. Registered nurse (RN): 

The RN manages patient care, assumes primary responsibility for the patient’s comprehensive care, and directs the care provided by other caregivers.

7.   Licensed practical nurse (LPN): 

The LPN is subordinate to the registered nurse and usually assists with the management and application of the treatment plan as delegated by the RN. The LPN is licensed to give the patient the required medication, record the patient’s pulse rate, respiration rate, and temperature, and carry out many treatment procedures.

 8. Nurse anesthetist (CRNA): 

The CRNA is a clinical nurse specialist who has exceptional education and training in anesthesia. A nurse anesthetist works with an anesthesiologist to comprise a part of the anesthesia care team during surgeries.

9.  Patient care technician (PCT): 

The PCT works under the RN (Registered Nurse), assists with the patient medical care as directed by the RN by taking the body vitals, collects blood samples on which tests are carried out in the lab, and maintains care of urinary catheters. The PCT also provides all manner of personal care to patients.

10.  Surgical Assistant (CSA): 

 The CSA is a licensed professional who assists surgeons and attending physicians in various surgical procedures, including orthopedic, vascular, and general surgery.

11.  Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA):

 The Certified Nursing Assistant provides quality-of-life care for patients in nursing care facilities and clinics under an RN or LPN.

12.   Allied Health professionals: 

These include medical assistants, medical technologists, medical laboratory technicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, speech-language pathologists, dietitians, diagnostic medical sonographers, radiographers, pharmacists, and more.

13.  Certified Clinical Medical Assistants

They are multi-skilled healthcare professionals who assist physicians and perform many medical duties for the patient. These may include administering medications, assisting with minor procedures, recording vital signs, taking medical histories, preparing patients and rooms for examinations, providing patient education, and more.

14.  Clinical officers 

They have to undergo a separate training program as compared to medical doctors. Some of their tasks include many medical and surgical tasks, which duplicate those usually carried out by doctors. Their jobs may consist of the following:

– such as anesthesia, 

– recognition of symptoms and treatment of medical conditions, 

– prescription of medication for patients.

 Clinical Officers training: includes a four or five-year professional diploma or degree program accredited by the Clinical Officers Council. Their training includes one year of pre-clinical training in medical sciences followed by practical training.

Chief Non-Clinical Roles 

Non-Clinical jobs are related to the medical services industry but have no contact with the patient to dispense medical treatment, advice, or medications. 

There are many jobs affiliated with the medical industry, such as:

  • Medical Director
  • Clinical Research Physicians
  • Physician Clinical Reviewer
  • Clinical Documentation Specialist
  • Healthcare Administration Jobs
  • Physician Advisors
  • Senior Safety Physicians
  • Public Health Physicians
  • Pharmacovigilance Physicians
  • Physician Liaison
  • Medical transcriptionist,
  • Pharmaceutical representative,
  • Biomedical engineering,
  • Medical recruiter 
  • Medical device sales. 
  • Patient advocates and 
  • Medical writers. and so on.

A list of Non-clinical healthcare jobs includes the following:

1. Medical Writers

Medical writers create, review and edit scientific and medical documents. They ensure their content meets the right standards and requirements and stay up-to-date with the latest trends, current medical literature, and relevant technological advancements. Some examples of medical writing they do include research-related documents, educational literature, and medical content for various healthcare websites or research journals.

2. Medical Director

The Medical Director is responsible for the overall coordination and direction of the hospital/healthcare provider. He/She ensures that professional medical care is rendered to all patients in an appropriate and timely manner. 

He/She is responsible for the overall administration and smooth functioning of the hospital, including ensuring that the hospital or doctors working in it or not facing medical malpractice suits. 

He is also responsible for providing in-service training for the hospital staff and undertaking performance measurements and appraisals for the various functional departments of the hospital.

3. Clinical research physicians

A clinical research physician acts as a principal investigator and assumes responsibility for the safety and care of clinical research trials participants. Usually hired by clinical pharmacology research institutes and pharmaceutical companies, clinical research physicians help in the proper conduct of clinical trials and use their medical knowledge for the same. 

They are generally responsible for administering all physical tests to the clinical study participants, analyzing all the lab test results like X-rays, E.C.Gs, blood tests, and addressing safety concerns along with the internal team. They also counsel the study participants on abnormal results. They also provide emergency medical care, if required.

4. Physician- Clinical reviewer:

A clinical reviewer reviews and monitors clinical documents to ensure proper compliance before submitting the same to insurance companies. You check all medical documentation and get it corroborated by the healthcare providers. A clinical reviewer has the daily responsibility of reviewing all documentation and ensuring all the information is accurate.

5. Clinical documentation specialist or quality documentation specialist:

It is the responsibility that complete and accurate coded data mirror the quality of medical care treatment and care received by the patient. He readies all the documentation and proper coding, which is a fair reflection of the standard of clinical care. He confirms that the clinical complexity, the severity of the illness, and the fatal/non-fatal nature of the patient’s medical illness are properly documented by selecting and using appropriate codes.

6. Healthcare Administration jobs:

The healthcare administrator oversees all front office and back office functions in a large hospital and private care facility. All ancillary support functions are managed by a healthcare administrator. These include human resources management, cost accounting, financial administration, data collection and analysis, revenue and collection management, liaising with insurance companies, and overseeing the settlement of medical malpractice suits. They act as arbitrators and liaison between various professional groups in the organization.

7. Physician Advisors:

Physician Advisors act as intermediaries between physicians and other clinical staff, insurance companies, and administrative staff. They help to underline the importance of:

1)      quality and necessity of medical care

2)      Analyse how the organization’s resources are being utilized

3)      Improve compliance and cooperation

4)      Improve the clinical documentation process to reduce payer denials of claims and reduce audit requirements

8. Senior Safety Physician

A senior safety physician is a licensed physician with proper medical/clinical and pharmacological experience and has previously worked in a hospital or a private care clinic. He is responsible for conducting safety assessments and risk measurement for an assigned set of products/drugs during its life cycle. He is also responsible for conducting safety monitoring and execution of product safety-related decisions. He has to perform signal detection, data evaluation, and management in collaboration with the Global Safety Officer. 

He is entrusted with managing the safety data in clinical trials, study protocols, and statistical analysis plans. He is responsible for all data collection of safety studies in clinical studies, analyzing the same and discussing the results in team meetings. In addition to his medical skills, he is also required to be adept in aggregating safety data and compiling safety reports. 

Usually, they work in the research departments of big pharmaceutical companies.

9. Public Health Physicians

Public Health physicians work for Federal institutions like the Centre for Diseases Control, which aims to prevent infectious disease and spread pandemics like the Covid-19. They do not treat patients in hospitals and private care clinics. 

They work to improve the large-scale health of populations and help in the eradication of the disease. A lot of work is aimed at researching new breeds of animal-borne viruses. These viruses are highly infectious and cause epidemics. The aim of public health physicians is to uplift the health standards of large communities.

10. Pharmacological vigilance physicians

Pharmacovigilance officers are different from senior safety physicians as both works in drug safety. He is responsible for reviewing and giving medical opinions on various research studies in the medical literature. 

He analyses signals detection and other references in safety reports, provides his medical opinion, and creates search strategies in IT systems. In addition to knowledge of medicine, he should have good IT skills and be an expert in scientific literature retrieval and evaluation.

11. Chief Executive Officer of a Hospital

He is responsible for the smooth functioning of the hospital and has the overall responsibility to the shareholders or the big donors of the hospital for the results. All hospital clinical and non-clinical staff are ultimately accountable to him for their department’s functioning. 

As one of the critical resources of a hospital, he is also responsible for recruiting the best talent for the hospital. He is an administrative head, though he may have medical knowledge. He troubleshoots inter-departmental problems and ensures smooth functioning. He also ensures that patients have hassle-free medical treatment at the hospital.

12. Physician Liaison

A physician liaison bridges the gap between specialty consultants and other outside doctors who refer patients.  He/She is the chief spokesperson for the hospital/private care clinic/ specialist, as the case may be. He/she should be endowed with strong interpersonal skills and communication skills as it involves liaising with other doctors and specialists.

Key Takeaways 

Both clinical and non-clinical staff serve patients and their medical needs in different ways. Some doctors and nurses work on the frontlines, dealing directly with patients and their treatment needs. Others work behind the scenes and facilitate the smooth running of the private care centers or hospitals that cater to the community’s medical management, health protection and ensure wellness for all of the community. Both are necessary cogs that keep the wheel of medical treatment and patient management smoothly running.


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