Applying for a non-clinical job? Here’s how to write a Medical Director resume.

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As a part of running the job board here on Look for Zebras, I come across a Medical Director resume quite frequently. I also see resumes from candidates for other physician nonclinical jobs, as well.

Here is one of the most common things I think to myself as I read them:

This physician is selling himself short.

I think highly of my fellow physicians. I know first-hand the effort (and time, and money) you’ve put into getting where you are professionally. And, of course, I want you to land a well-compensated, highly fulfilling job!

Similarly, I’m aware of the level of skill and abilities you’ve likely gained throughout your training and career. But these, unfortunately, often don’t come through on paper in the resumes I see.

There can be several reasons for this:

  • Physician job seekers don’t dedicate the time necessary to craft a good resume
  • Nobody teaches us how to write a good resume in med school
  • Physicians tend to be verbal communicators, and resumes are entirely visual

Moreover, a resume for a nonclinical job is a completely new challenge compared to updating a CV for an academic clinical position.

A Medical Director resume must answer these 5 questions

Before you rush to update your years-old resume with your current information and send it off in response to a Medical Director job description or other nonclinical opening, take a few minutes to put yourself in the reader’s shoes.

If you were the Talent Acquisition Specialist screening candidate resumes, would the resume answer these questions? For most prospective Medical Director resumes that I see, the answer is no.

By ensuring your resume covers the info below, you can really set yourself apart from other candidates.

1. How has your career evolved since you completed medical school?

Your resume should tell a brief story of your professional life at little more than a glance.

Make it clear that you’ve had career growth and progression, rather than just a series of training programs and jobs.

Telling a story can involve several aspects of the resume, including:

  • Sections organized in a logical order
  • Job details that demonstrate advancing responsibilities and evolving foci over time
  • No unexplained gaps in time or information

To best do this, think about where you want to go with your career. Temporarily (only in your draft version!) add in the job you’re vying for at the top of your experiences. Then add in all the data and details that logically lead up to it.

Another way to show career progression is to thoughtfully address job promotions and title changes. You can stack job entries under a single company header if you had a title change but retained similar responsibilities. Otherwise, create separate entries to demonstrate that your role changed along with a promotion. For example:

Community Health Center (Miami, FL)

Medical Director of Clinical Quality, June 2016 – Present

  • New position detail 1
  • New position detail 1
  • New position detail 1

Staff Physician, October 2000 – June 2016

  • Old position detail 1
  • Old position detail 2
  • Old position detail 3

For some nonclinical jobs, the time even before medical school may be relevant. For instance, if you worked in business or finance before starting medical school, your experience may be highly pertinent to a nonclinical Medical Director position. If this is the case, don’t leave certain parts of your job history off simply because they’re old.

2. What did you actually accomplish in your previous roles?

The descriptions of the experiences you list on your resume should include what you accomplished in your position, rather than just what your responsibilities were.

This is especially important in a Medical Director resume since, as a director, you’ll be expected to drive results.

Getting through a tightly scheduled day of patients as a clinical physician is undoubtedly a lot of work. But it’s a different type of achievement than what is expected in most nonclinical positions. So, rather than simply list that you diagnose and treat patients in your current job, consider what broader results have stemmed from your work.

Example accomplishments to consider for a Medical Director resume:

  • Size of a team managed
  • Number of clients served
  • The dollar amount of accounts serviced by a program you developed
  • Growth of annual revenue during an effort you led
  • Increase in company size
  • Percent increase in the size of your patient base
  • Size of grants received
  • The resulting reduction in expenses from an initiative
  • The decrease in unnecessary admissions
  • Improvement in operational efficiency
  • Reduction in wait times
  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Higher rating scores from oversight bodies
  • Improvement in quality indicators
  • Number of students mentored or trained

Other ways to demonstrate accomplishment without percentages, dollar signs, and digits are to say what the qualitative results of your efforts were. For example:

Recognized with a promotion…

Invited to serve on…

Identified by the Chief Medical Officer to…

Shifted the company toward…

My best tip for writing a resume that focuses on accomplishments

Including accomplishments rather than duties is not easy – especially for physicians looking to transition from a clinical career.

The way I’ve found that helps the most with this process is to think through the following:

  1. A challenge you faced
  2. How you addressed it
  3. What the result was

Here’s an example of this thought process:

  • The challenge: There was no consistency among the clinicians at my hospital with regard to addressing possible DVTs.
  • How you addressed it: Reviewed the medical evidence and clinical practice guidelines, developed a written workflow that fit in with our current processes at the time, and led educational sessions with the clinicians.
  • The result: A 50% decrease in average time to begin DVT treatment in patients after first presenting with signs/symptoms suggesting DVT.

And a resulting blurb for the resume:

Developed and implemented a clinical workflow that resulted in a 50% decrease in time to diagnose and begin treatment for deep vein thromboses.

3. In what ways does your experience align with the Medical Director job description?

You don’t need to rewrite your resume for every nonclinical job you apply to. However, your resume should be specific for the type of role to which you’re applying. A resume geared toward a pharmaceutical Medical Director job description, for example, should probably be revised if you’re also applying to healthcare system administrative positions.

Your resume should demonstrate your ability to solve problems that the employer is likely to have.

A pharmaceutical company Medical Director job description might include the following responsibilities:

  • Implement clinical development plans
  • Provide support to advisory boards and consultants
  • Review and interpret clinical study data
  • Ensure that clinical program strategy aligns with company objectives

The duties of a healthcare payor Medical Director might include:

  • Review the medical necessity and appropriateness of requests for services
  • Develop and implement utilization management policies and procedures
  • Create action plans to promote population health
  • Collaborate with provider systems to influence care management programs

Compare these to some possible responsibilities of an administrator for a healthcare company, such as a Regional Medical Director:

  • Provide business direction in support of medical management programs
  • Set and maintain evidence-based clinical standards in the region
  • Monitor site results through data review
  • Oversee the quality of care delivered within the region

The descriptions of your past work on your resume should demonstrate how you’re prepared to carry out these responsibilities in your future work.

4. What have you done to hone your leadership and other nonclinical skills?

Almost all nonclinical jobs for physicians have something in common:  they are, in some way, leadership positions.

For some jobs, the leadership components are obvious, such as managing a team of clinicians. For others, it’s more subtle but still requires that you have the skills to drive the company’s success through your leadership.

Your ability to accomplish this needs to come through in your resume.

This is possible even if your current and past positions weren’t positions of authority and you didn’t have other employees directly reporting to you. In this case, consider these questions:

  • How did your contributions guide output or yield results?
  • Did co-workers often turn to you for your input on a certain topic?
  • How were you influential to the team on a project or initiative you were involved in?

Make answers to these questions apparent in your descriptions under each experience.

5. How does your professionalism come through in your writing?

Many HR staff members and recruiters will take a single quick look at a resume and make a judgment about the candidate. This isn’t necessarily a judgment about whether the candidate has the technical knowledge to accomplish the duties of the job. Rather, it’s a judgment about professionalism.

Your professionalism is shown by the apparent effort you’ve put into crafting a high-quality resume with:

  • An appropriate layout
  • Consistent and suitable formatting
  • Pleasing use of white space
  • Proper grammar and spelling
  • Inclusion of applicable information
  • The omission of unnecessary details

A resume that doesn’t have these features makes it obvious that the candidate rushed through writing the resume or didn’t feel that these elements were important. This is a predictor of how the candidate functions in the workplace.

Most Medical Director roles require writing, developing documents, and paying attention to detail. If you don’t do this on your resume, the employer may be skeptical as to whether you’ll do it on the job.


Your resume can speak volumes about you. It doesn’t just list where you did your training and what job titles you’ve had since then. It paints a picture of how you’ve been valuable to the organizations you’ve worked with throughout your career. And it’s a demonstration of a thought process and a written work product.

It’s not something to rush through or take lightly.

Most healthcare professionals aren’t resume professionals. If you don’t have the time or inclination to tackle the five questions listed above, consider hiring some help to develop a Medical Director resume. My Resume Overhaul service is designed precisely for this.

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