Alternative Medical Careers

A MD degree provides many avenues for alternative medical careers. Many industries highly value a medical degree and the clinical experience gained through completing a residency.

As technology advances, new fields emerge, offering new career paths. It is the combination of the scientific rigor and the clinical skills and knowledge that make a physician valuable to these industries.

As you consider alternative careers, reflect on both your medical experience, along with other skills and qualifications you hold that will assist you in pursuing new career paths.

Begin to explore the various pathways using the resources on this page.

UW Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency

  • Focus on ways that workplace, home, or community environmental factors affect human health
  • Learn to manage occupational injury and illness
  • Graduates enjoy diverse careers in direct patient care, public health, research, and academics

Program Prerequisites

  • Physicians who have undergone a minimum of one year of postgraduate training in an ACGME, AOA, or Canadian accredited program
  • Completing a categorical residency program such as Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, General Preventive Medicine, or other specialty strengthens the application
  • Applicants with military experience, such as completion of an intern year followed by several years as a flight surgeon are welcome

There are a number of masters’ level or certificate programs that provide complementary training to the M.D. and maximize your future career options.

Concurrent Degrees While Earning the MD at UWSOM:

  • Medical Scientist Training Program
    • Prepare for careers in academic investigative medicine and research in a specific research field
  • MD/Master of Public Health
    • Pursue careers in research, policy, advocacy, and consulting
  • MD/Master of Health Administration
    • Pursue careers in management, healthcare policy, or systems-based approach to health care delivery
  • MD/Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
    • Medicine and dentistry training that focuses on the diagnosis, surgical treatment, and management of diseases and disorders of the face and jaws
    • Application to the six-year OMS education training program is limited to DDS students and occurs prior to matriculation at the School of Medicine

Additional Complementary Degrees Include:

  • Master of Science
    • For students interested in conducting research
  • Master of Business Administration
    • Gain knowledge of business, management, and leadership
  • Juris Doctor
    • For students interested in serving in government and policy, on the executive team of a hospital, practicing as lawyer focusing on medical issues, or forensic medicine


Alternative Industries

Physicians work for the collective benefit of society and promote public health, and often public education is the focus. Physicians often serve as mediators serving the interests of both physicians and the public.

Common Interests:

Politics, Civic Affairs, Drug Abuse Laws, Nutrition Funding, Humane Fiscal Policy, Health Care Financing, Health Legislation, Education, Public Policy, Public Safety, Preventive Medicine, Scientific Policy, and Access to Care

Common Work Functions and Settings:
  • Public Service and Policy-Making
  • Federal, State, and Local
  • Government Relations
  • Non-profits
Common Employers:
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Occupational Health and Safety Administration
  • Health Science Centers
  • Universities and other Higher Education settings
  • American Medical Association
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • American College of Surgeons
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • Local, county and state medical societies

Common Interests:

Research, business and healthcare leadership, information science, data analysis, complex business and healthcare issues, finance, organizational design, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries

Common Work Settings:
  • Hospital systems
  • Academic medical centers
  • Practice groups
  • Insurance companies
  • Research organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Consulting companies
Career Options:
Physician Executive Careers: Hospitals and Healthcare Management

The field integrates the knowledge, skills, ethics and values of medicine with those of leadership and management. There are physician executives in every sector of the healthcare field.


The intersection of information science, computer science, and health care. This field deals with the resources, devices, and methods required to optimize the acquisition, storage, retrieval, and use of information in health and biomedicine. As technology is advancing opportunities in informatics are growing.

Work occurs in a range of settings including insurance companies and HMO’s, hospital systems, physician practice groups, health information technology vendors, academic medical centers and medical schools.


Professional analysts who assist organizations in understanding complex business issues and developing and/or executing an action plan to address them.

There are opportunities for physicians to bring their expertise to hospitals, health systems, physician practices, managed care, pharmaceutical and bio tech companies, medical device manufacturers, government, and academics.

They serve as experts on finance, organization design, management of people, leadership, conflict management, strategic planning, operational planning and quality improvement.

Pharmaceutical research is a large industry and many pharmaceutical companies have offices throughout the world engaging in global research endeavors.

Common Work Functions and Settings:
  • Biotechnology
  • Licensure/certification businesses
  • Clinical sciences
  • Drug design and delivery
  • Pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism
  • Regulatory affairs
  • Medical support providers
  • Administrators
  • Bench scientists
  • Run laboratory or clinical research
    • Design new studies
    • Develop research protocols
    • Initiate and monitor studies
    • Interpret data
    • Prepare reports

Print Journalism

Medical writers and journalists research the latest scientific news and develop communications to inform about medical advances or advocate a position for their organization.

Common Work Settings:
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Communication or advertising companies
  • Clinical research organizations
  • Associations
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Research /education associations
  • Universities
  • Publishing/newspaper companies
Broadcast Journalism

Broadcast opportunities include:

  • Medical correspondence for a news channel
  • Working with a production company developing content for medical shows
  • Working with a national/local news or broadcasting companies

Focuses on the clinical care, research, and operational support of the health, safety, and performance of crewmembers and passengers of air and space vehicles, together with the support personnel who assist operation of such vehicles.

MDs work in one of the branches of the military, or are in civilian roles in administrative, clinical, research and academic arenas.

Common Employers:
  • Military
  • Commercial airline companies
  • Regulatory agencies
  • Space agencies
  • Independent clinics for medical flight certification
  • Academia

For more information, visit the Aerospace Medical Association.

There is an increasing demand for clinicians to be at the forefront of major international health events and projects.

These include direct service delivery in areas such as family planning, maternal and child health, tropical medicine, malaria, nutrition, TB, HIV/AIDS, and chronic disease, and providing health education and developing international health policy.

Common Interests:

International issues, global public health policy, service delivery.

Common Work Settings:
  • International, multilateral organizations
  • Bilateral governmental organizations
  • Academic institutions
  • Non-government organizations (NGOs)
  • Consulting organizations
  • Faith based organizations
  • Commercial organizations
Getting Started:

Look for opportunities in public health, elective rotations in developing countries, research conducting clinical trials or epidemiological research, public or international health projects, and opportunities at state health departments, US government, and NGOs.


Resources to Learn More

As you explore, build a list of companies, labs, and research institutes that interest you.

Explore employers’ social media sites and news sections of their websites. Research organizations’ goals, products, culture, and job openings.

Explore Career Options:

UW Medicine Alumni Association
  • Your source for connecting with UWSOM alumni
Student-Alumni Informational Discussions (SAID)
  • UWSOM alumni host a small group of two to six students over Zoom for lively conversations about professional practice, residency, work-life balance and whatever else is on students’ minds
  • Discussions offered October through December
  • Contact: or 206.685.1875
Huskies@Work Job Shadowing Program
  • A one-time, low-commitment online talk between a current student and an alum about careers
  • Sponsored by the UW Alumni Association
  • Runs semi-annually in fall and spring
Connect with UWSOM Alumni on LinkedIn