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7 Lucrative Careers for Unmatched Doctors

Match Day 2022 has come and gone. For many freshly to-be minted physicians, this is a day of celebration as they find out where they will be training in their specialty of choice. However, for many others who don’t match to a residency training position, this day can be obviously heartbreaking and quite challenging. Unmatched doctors are faced with very difficult decisions regarding their careers.

The 2022 Match by the numbers

In 2022, there were 42,549 active applicants in the Main Residency Match of which 34,075 matched into a position. This 80.1% match rate was a slight increase from 2021. 

However, this still means that there were roughly 8,000 physicians or soon to-be physicians that do not have a job! This is almost unfathomable. Especially as we keep hearing about a significant shortage of doctors in the U.S., especially in fields like family medicine and pediatrics.

So, what are these unmatched doctors to do with their nascent careers?

Well, there are two obvious options immediately available. 

  • One option is to apply for the supplemental match process known as SOAP to attempt to match into unfilled positions. This option has since come and passed at this point.
  • The second immediate option is to take a year to regroup, strengthen your application, shore up on research, improve test scores, and reapply the following year. This is what many unmatched applicants chose to do. If you decide to follow this route, I highly recommend checking out The Match Guy, who has an amazing track record of helping especially foreign medical graduates to match into residency positions.
careers unmatched doctors

But these are not the only options.

In fact, there is a whole world of careers still open to unmatched doctors that may have not been previously considered. This is the world of non-clinical medicine careers. And there are a ton of options.

Non-clinical careers for unmatched doctors

A non-clinical career may end up being the right choice for many physicians, both practicing and non-practicing, matched and not matched. Especially with the epidemic of physician burnout and moral injury that is plaguing clinical medicine recently.

So, if you did not match and are unsure if clinical medicine is your passion or what you want to pursue right now, you can still leverage your medical expertise and knowledge with a non-clinical career. My recommendation is to take some time and really think about what it is that you want. What is your “big why?” If clinical medicine is still your passion, then chase it! But if not, maybe a paradigm shift around your career options is in order.

A quick word of caution, however

If you are undecided between a clinical and non-clinical career, the safer option in general is to continue to pursue a clinical career. The reason I say this is because it is very easy to leave clinical medicine for non-clinical medicine. But it can be very difficult to leave a non-clinical career and then match into a clinical training position. Why? The answer is bias. It’s not right but those taking time off to pursue non-clinical careers that look to re-enter the clinical field face an uphill battle of scrutiny.

With all of that said, here are 7 viable and potentially lucrative non-clinical careers for unmatched doctors to consider:

1. Consulting

Medical consulting is a potentially very lucrative option where one’s medical knowledge can be leveraged. 

Consulting can take place in a variety of different settings and in many different roles. So be open and broad in pursuing opportunities. The best start is to begin searching for potential opportunities or companies that work with medical consultants and just reach out! Prepare yourself to discuss what you can bring to the table as a consultant and why this interests you.

Medical industry is the most obvious arena for non-clinical doctors as consultants. For instance, in plastic surgery, device companies are littered with plastic surgeons to assist with device creation, field marketing, speaking, and the like. Same will go for every specialty, whether it be with devices, pharmaceuticals, or both. So, reach out to the companies within your area of interest.

There are also just plain old consulting companies that are always looking to hire talent in specialized areas, medicine being one of them. One such company is McKinsey. But many others exist.

I even know of many physician financial service companies that have hired non-clinical physicians on their staff for consumer outreach and education.

The most challenging arena for consulting is through the media. This would include consulting on TV, films, or the news regarding areas of medicine of public interest. The best way to go about this would be to start creating an online presence and following and then leveraging that for opportunities. This is something that will take a lot of time.

2. Medical Writing and Editing

Technical and scientific writing is something that many medical companies require but do not necessarily have experience with. Companies will need experts to write things like grants, safety inserts, studies, and applications for new products.

After medical school, you are an expert at reading, interpreting, and creating scientific medical writing. This is a skill you can leverage for a successful non-clinical career.

Similarly, medical textbook and journal publishers need someone to read and review content to ensure it meets medical standards. This can include copywriting in addition to editing.

3. Business Investments

Financial firms and companies that invest heavily in medical technology and infrastructure often are looking for medical experts to staff. 

These doctors can be asked to review and report on current or potential investments to vet their clinical and market viability. These can grow into executive level positions.

4. Medical Sales

Medical sales companies obviously need physicians to assist with product planning, design, and implementation as discussed above.

But they are also always in need to knowledgeable salespeople. And no one is more knowledgeable or relatable to other doctors than an actual doctor. This lends an immediate credibility that can propel one in their career path. So, if there is a product that you are quite passionate about, this can be an excellent opportunity.

5. Education

After medical school, you are absolutely an expert in medical science. And future healthcare professionals need experts to teach them so they can move the field forward either clinically or non-clinically. 

Medical teaching and educational institutions constantly need medical experts to fill these roles. This obviously can become quite a rewarding and successful career. In major universities this may incorporate a component of research. But other opportunities do not necessarily include this requirement.

6. Research

Research itself can be an excellent opportunity for unmatched doctors who are research inclined. This will usually require some post-graduate training that includes a payment stipend and then can evolve into a full-blown career.

These positions are filled outside of the Match in most cases. 

The field is competitive but a very viable option for those interested.

Ok, the final option actually is clinically oriented…

7. Clinical careers that don’t require residency

Lastly, there are plenty of clinical positions that do not require you to be an MD/DO that completed residency. If clinical medicine is what you want but you do not wish to pursue this through the residency path, these options are open to you:

  • Specialist in poison information
    • These positions are with a poison control center. You are paid during training and after certification this becomes a full-time position.
  • Public health 
    • Public health looks to treat large swathes of the population through policy and community-based medicine. This does usually require additional training but not necessarily a residency.
  • Physician assistant
  • Diagnostic medical sonography
  • Genetic counselor
  • Registered sleep technologist

Finding yourself unmatched can feel devastating. However, as always, our mindset is so important. 

Use this opportunity to examine what you are looking for in medicine and in your life. If clinical medicine is the answer, then go for it! And please, check out The Match Guy!

But if it is not your passion, that is alright too. There are a variety of awesome options available to you that can lead to a lucrative and, more importantly, fulfilling career!

Regardless of which career path you ultimately choose, remember to implement basic personal finance strategies like this so that you can reach financial freedom and work because you want to, not because you have to!

What do you think? What careers should unmatched doctors pursue? Have you considered a non-clinical career? Let us know in the comments below!

This post was originally published on MedPage Today.

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected]

    2 thoughts on “7 Lucrative Careers for Unmatched Doctors”

    1. Jordan, this post is a masterpiece of great information, generously offered. Thank you from everybody who needed to read it and learned something really valuable. ~Janet (a pre med advisor)

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