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The Watering Hole – September 2019

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The Watering Hole is a monthly compilation of articles, blog posts, news, and perspectives for medical professionals seeking “zebras” is their careers. This edition features insight into physician consulting, health tech startups, and nonclinical careers.

Physicians desiring an extra source of income need to consider consulting

There are opportunities for income generation wherever there is expertise. As medical professionals, we have expertise. Many of us, as it turns out, are using it for consulting.  

Medical Economics’ 90th annual physician report includes data about the main sources of secondary income for doctors. Consulting is the top source, with 26% of secondary income earners providing consulting services. The average amount of secondary income per year for internists is $59,400. That is a solid chunk of cash. 

The number two source of secondary income, which really is a form of consulting, is expert witness work. Daniel Hanson of IP Watchdog reminds us that, when testifying as an expert, never opine as to whether something is obvious.

On the other hand, if you want to give your opinion and say whatever the heck you want, start a blog! Blogs can lead to consulting opportunities of many types. Healthgrades published 5 Tips for Writing a Good Physician Blog and, as a blogger, I can attest that these are valuable tips. The article is geared toward physicians blogging to a patient audience, but the recommendations are just as applicable for those writing to businesses or professionals. 

Those without the time or motivation to run a blog have other avenues to obtain consulting clients. A new feature on LinkedIn allows small business owners to add the services they provide on their profiles, as well as to indicate whether they are accepting clients. 

Health tech startups are both an opportunity and a risk for physicians

Digital health company Livongo made headlines with their IPO last month. According to Forbes, they have “opened the floodgate to a digital healthcare wave.” This wave comes with ample opportunity for physicians in the form of consulting work, full-time jobs, and investment opportunities

MobiHealthNews aims to describe what exactly a digital health company is, ultimately deciding that it includes any company with a product at the intersection of healthcare, technology, and innovation. These companies can call themselves digital health, health tech, connected health, and e-health, among other names.

Business Insider recently profiled 30 young leaders who are transforming the future of healthcare, with many of them focusing somewhere within the health tech space. Among them are the founders of RubiconMD, an e-consult platform that allows primary care clinicians to easily discuss their cases with specialists. Also included is the CEO of Iora Health, a digitally-enabled private healthcare company that aims to help older patients manage their health and navigate the healthcare system.

Want to get involved in the digital healthcare wave? Here are the various ways that you can.

Be cautious, though. Dr. Mo of Sustainable Medicine describes Getting Bamboozled as a Physician by a healthcare artificial intelligence company. They claimed they needed a medical director, but really just wanted to use his license. This sort of bamboozlement is unfortunately much too common.

As scientists, we’re accustomed to using peer-reviewed literature to make judgments about advancements in medicine. But high-valued healthcare startups tend to have few peer-reviewed publications about their technology and its impact on patient health. Whether this is a problem or not is up for debate but, regardless, it means we need to be diligent when getting involved in the startup space.

Making career changes – in and out of medicine

Physician consulting and nonclinical careers are alike in that it’s difficult to find details on expected pay or income. Heather Fork of Doctor’s Crossing recently wrote about Nonclinical Career Salaries for Physicians. Her article echoes what I’ve written in the past: nonclinical salaries depend on a lot of factors. You need to consider the full compensation package and your own quality of life.

It can, however, be a challenge to anticipate how a nonclinical job that you haven’t even started may impact your quality of life. A Medscape article by Andrew Wilner, MD discusses the book Quitting by Design by Lynn Morski, MD, which is worth a read for physicians considering a career change.

I’ll end with a link to an inspiring story from a local paper out of Minnesota about a physician who transitioned her career to scriptwriting for feature films and TV shows. Aspects of her TV series are inspired by her experience as a physician.

1 thought on “The Watering Hole – September 2019”

  1. Big fan of these watering hole posts.

    I can attest that blogging is a great way to get engaged in something that you are passionate about and can help you reignite your passion if you have lost it from burnout. If you are lucky you can even make some money in it (but a warning is don’t look at what the biggest blogs in the niche make as they are the exception, not the norm).

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