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Non-clinical fellowships for MDs to transition to utilization management and managed care

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There are a handful non-clinical fellowships for MDs that are applicable for preparing for a career transition to utilization management (UM) or being a medical director with a managed care company.

One of the most common concerns I hear from physicians wanting to transition their career to non-clinical work is that they don’t feel like they have relevant experience. Many are willing to complete additional training in order to meet the qualifications of employers. This article will introduce you to 10 opportunities that can help you begin a rewarding non-clinical career in UM or managed care.

What are non-clinical fellowships for MDs?

When physicians think of fellowships, we typically think of the period of medical training undertaken after residency in order to sub-specialize in a clinical field.

The term “fellowship” is used more broadly outside of clinical medicine. Generally, it is used to describe short-term opportunities for those at the graduate or post-graduate level. Fellowships are focused on professional development, with fellows taking on advanced-level projects. They are sponsored by a variety of organizations, including academic institutions, government agencies, for-profit companies, and foundations.

Non-clinical fellowships for MDs aren’t a specific type of fellowship. They can be programs of any type that help to prepare physicians for a non-clinical position. A few are specifically geared toward physicians, though most programs are designed for a broader applicant pool that includes PhDs and other advanced-degree holders.

These fellowships won’t lead to ABMS board eligibility. And they won’t be widely recognized by most of the colleagues that you work with in your clinical job. Nonetheless, if you’re lacking relevant experience for a non-clinical career, they have several potential benefits:

  • Exposure to the field you think you want to work in
  • Networking opportunities
  • Completion of a research study or other project related to your non-clinical interests
  • Relevant experience for your resume
  • Material for discussion at non-clinical job interviews
  • Potential employment with the company sponsoring the fellowship

Here are seven non-clinical fellowships for MDs who are interested in working in managed care, utilization management, or similar fields.

Humana Executive Physician Leadership Program

I’ve listed this program first, as it is the most relevant to physicians wanting to transition their careers to managed care. Moreover, it is designed for early-career physicians, so is attainable without years of post-graduate experience.

Humana’s Executive Physician Leadership Program is a two-year experience developed to give physicians a comprehensive understanding of managed care executive leadership. During the first year of the program, physicians participate in marketing, strategy, innovation, and quality efforts. The second year has an operational focus, including risk and compliance, healthcare services, and market initiatives.

Another perk of this program is that it offers higher compensation than a typical fellowship. The website states that participants enjoy “clinical-level pay” and are supporting in keeping their licensure up-to-date during the program.

Radiology Utilization Management Fellowship

This fellowship is one of the few formal training opportunities specifically in utilization management. The Radiology Utilization Management Fellowship is designed by the University of Illinois Department of Radiology in conjunction with their School of Public Health.

The one-year fellowship is divided into three rotations – one in the department of radiology, another centered in the hospital’s utilization management and risk management activities, and the third within the school of public health. It also includes post-graduate courses in topics such as healthcare law and healthcare financing.

While you don’t have to be a radiologist to be eligible, the fellowship does focus on utilization management as it relates to imaging.

Fellowship in Health Policy and Insurance Research

There are many fellowships in health policy. Most provide a fitting background for non-clinical jobs, but aren’t necessarily focused on managed care or utilization management. I’ve included the Harvard Medical School Fellowship in Health Policy and Insurance Research in this article because it is dedicated to health policy relating to insurance research, and therefore is a great background for physicians wanting to work in the healthcare payor space.

Based in Harvard’s Department of Population Medicine, fellows in this program lead projects in health insurance policy research, health care delivery science, and population-level system policy. Participants can also take advantage of Harvard’s extensive library, data sets, and other resources.

Institute for Medicaid Innovation Fellowship

The Institute for Medicaid Innovation aims to improve the lives of Medicaid enrollees through evidence-based and innovative models of care. It is supported by national experts from research institutions, advocacy and community organizations, clinician groups, Medicaid managed care organizations, and policymakers.

The policy and research fellowships offered by the Institute support doctoral students and early-career professionals in conducting research and quality improvement projects related to Medicaid managed care. This opportunity is fitting for physicians headed toward managed care careers, as it aims to address the intersection of clinical practice, research, and policy.

Advanced Fellowship in Health Systems Engineering

Sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Advanced Fellowship in Health Systems Engineering is a one-year program for physicians and other healthcare practitioners intended to introduce fellows to health systems redesign. Since managed care companies are constantly looking at how to more effectively and efficiently deliver and pay for health care services, this fellowship is a solid backdrop for MDs transitioning to a managed care job.

Potential project areas for fellows in this program include health systems modeling, systems assessment, and health systems performance optimization.

Benchmark Hospitalists Fellowship

Benchmark Hospitalists is a leading hospitalist group headquartered in southern California. They have joined together with Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy to create a unique hospital medicine management fellowship program.

This fellowship is designed to prepare future leaders to handle the rapidly and constantly evolving environment in which healthcare is delivered. It is a one-year program that combines academics, community practice, and administrative experiences. The goal is for participants to be equipped for leadership positions in healthcare administration and management.

AdventHealth Residency Program

Though designed for recent college graduates, the AdventHealth Residency Program may be of interest to some physicians seeking non-clinical careers, such foreign medical graduates unable or unwilling to complete a US residency.

This two- to three-year program provides specialized leadership development training related to physician enterprise, healthcare revenue cycle management, healthcare information technology, financing, or another one of many available tracks. It combines project participation, executive mentoring, formal classes and training, and multi-division exposure that prepares participants for leadership positions.

There are other fellowship options that will help you land a non-clinical job

These are only a sample of the fellowship opportunities that are potentially fitting for physicians wanting to transition to nonclinical roles. If none of these looked like a great match for you, keep searching. Many relevant programs aren’t specifically designed for physicians or are small and not heavily advertised.

Interestingly, managed care pharmacy residency programs are commonplace for pharmacists (for example, programs with California Blue and Aetna. Physicians interested in a managed care career don’t have this luxury of formal programs in this area. So, get creative and keep an open mind as you prepare to make your transition.

3 thoughts on “Non-clinical fellowships for MDs to transition to utilization management and managed care”

  1. Are these full time fellowship programs requiring that I quit my day job?
    And if so, how is the compensation during fellowship, if not, do I pay for the program and roughly how much do they cost/yr?

    • Each program is run by a different organization, so they all have different formats, requirements, funding sources, and logistics. I recommend looking for details on the individual fellowship websites and/or contacting the programs directly.

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