The NonClinical Drive-Through


This is an actual inquiry – cut and paste, I received today. It’s no different from emails I receive every day. It sounds a bit like picking your job from the drive-up window; however, it’s what many physicians expect. While on one hand, physicians’ day-to-day patient, staff and administrative encounters have become less and less respectful, filled with demeaning and demanding encounters that make physicians feel more and more like commodities, the one place physicians still receive full deference is with the medical recruiter. Then this type of inquiry is only natural.

Some physicians believe moving into the non-clinical world is as simple as changing clinical practices:

      • Email a recruiter
      • Send your CV
      • Briefly discuss what you’re willing and unwilling to do
      • What you expect in income, call and other contractual aspects of the job
      • Wait for the phone to ring

Having sat on the other side of the recruiting desk with four separate hospital systems, I was the person you met with following the obligatory physician dinner and tour. Assuming you didn’t insult anyone at dinner and didn’t say anything that placed you on the fringes of medical practice, my role was to present you with a contract and negotiate it to a mutually successful close. The whole affair could be wrapped up in a weekend… as easy as going through the drive-through for a burger. 

The nonclinical world is different. First, there essentially are no recruiters to call or email. That may sound odd or based on my company, self-serving, but consider this. What jobs have you seen that begin with, “no experience necessary, prefer physician leaving clinical practice.” Frankly, I’ve never seen one. The role of recruiters in clinical and nonclinical areas is the same,

both are searching for candidates who match as precisely as possible the criteria handed them by their clients. Nonclinical recruiters are therefore looking for physicians who match the criteria of experience first, and education second. In other words, it’s the value of what you’ve done, not just the chronology of your CV that matters.

Second, think practically. A typical recruiter for nonclinical physician opportunities has the same quality database capabilities as medical recruiters searching for physicians. That is, the nonclinical recruiter has a database of physicians already in nonclinical and executive positions. These are physicians with a nonclinical track record necessary to meet the recruiters’ client’s criteria. Could that same recruiter access a list of physicians in practice? Absolutely, but why would they. It costs money to source human capital, and the best source is those who most likely meet all or most of their client’s criteria. Practicing physicians are unlikely to be a match.

So, what do you do? Throw in the towel… no. But, you must change your expectations. First, realize it’s a buyer’s market.

  • You represent a set of qualities most employers don’t or won’t recognize or understand.
  • You have to educate potential employers – not recruiters, about how your background and your experience are portable and transferrable to their settings.
  • You have to be able to clearly state the direct relationships between what you’ve done and what they want someone to do.
  • Deconstruct what you do on a daily basis. For example, some physicians say to me, “all I do is examine patients.”

ALL? What is a patient exam? You analyze historical data, collect new data, conduct a complex analysis with often less than complete or less than perfect data, and you render a new course of action. And, you may do this 20 to 25 times a day, each day, every day. Ask the corporate executives how many truly critical decisions they make each day. Oh, and add, if you’re wrong, or if someone simply perceives you to be wrong, you may be sued for your “error.”

Just like in-practice, the nonclinical world expects you to know what you want, and to present the information and materials necessary to show you can do the job. The critical difference is that non-clinically, organizations want to know if you’ll be a good team member, someone they want to discuss problems with, someone who will be a positive contributor. That takes time to determine. It won’t happen on a weekend fly-in

You are qualified, but you must first learn to present yourself as an accomplished professional with a clear picture of the job(s) you and do and the value you can bring to your desired business setting, and you must be patient realizing the ball is always in your court. 

You do have the experience they are looking for, and more.