Promising alternatives to clinical practice

The medical profession will always rank high on the most-admired professions across all sections of society. A student needs to decide on becoming a physician by the age of 17-18 yrs in most regions of Europe, Asia and Australia1. Once a student opts for medicine, under-graduation is followed by post graduation and often further to their specialisation. The young and budding doctor then faces the question of either choosing clinical practice or pursuing the unconventional path of an alternative career. It is common for doctors to discontinue clinical practice and shift their careers to parallel branches. In US, allopathic practitioners are opting for non-clinical careers and the proportion of US graduates continuing to practice full time medicine continues to decline2.

This paradigm shift of profession is attributed to causes like family commitments, need for financial prosperity, medico-legal issues etc. Several alternative careers are now available which harness the medical knowledge of the practitioner for a better remuneration and a more satisfied life.

Following are promising careers which a medical graduate can adopt to fulfill his aspirations.

1. Complementary Medicine

Complementary medicine includes branches like herbal medicine, naturopathy, magneto therapy, acupuncture, acupressure etc.

2. Aviation medicine

It is a branch of occupational medicine with the primary duty of providing medical care for airline crew and pilots.

3. Crowd doctor

Required for medical treatment of spectators of stadium events3.

4. Forensic psychiatry

This is a medico-legal branch involving treatment and rehabilitation of mentally ill criminal offenders.

5. Medical writing

This involves writing of medical documents as per the requirements of hospitals, research institutes, pharmaceutical companies etc to suit the target audience.

6. Medical law

Medical Law has several options like medical adviser to law firms and companies, clinical side like forensic pathology, medical ethics are open and in demand.

7. Medical journalism

Medical journalism is a branch which is growing day by day. Here, the doctor has to get a degree in journalism along with the medical degree. The job profile involves writing of medical literature for news papers, magazines etc.

8.  Medical education

This job opportunity ranges from teaches general public to training doctors in hospitals, medical colleges etc.

9. Medical Research

Medical research is carried out in research constitutes, clinical labs, charitable hospitals and companies. This researcher formulates new clinical approaches and new drugs via focused research and analysis.

10. Medical sales

This acts as a link between the pharmaceutical industry and the physicians. The area of work is explaining the drug product to the doctors and giving feed back to the pharmaceutical companies.

11. Sports medicine

There are various options one can find in sports medicine. The young physician can become a team doctor, adviser for triathlon or marathon events etc.

12. Pharmaceutical medicine

The various options include drug regulation, clinical pharmacology and clinical development.

13. Occupational Medicine

Occupational physicians work to assess and reduce damage to health of employees at their work place. They help optimize workplace safety while minimizing hazards to health. Helping people to get back to their work is the prime focus. They enable employment to the injured ensuring their well being.

14. Relief work

Medical relief doctors help people during natural disasters and emergencies. Their job is carried out in extreme and adverse situations and is continued till new effective health care services are re-constructed.

15. Environmental health officer

The environmental health officer is responsible for ensuring safety of people, forming policies for the same and maintaining environmental health4.


  1. Rebecca Ghani. Moving on from Clinical practice. Publication Date 30 May 2012.
  2. Jeffe DB, Andriole DA, Hageman HL, Whelan AJ. The changing paradigm of contemporary U.S. allopathic medical school graduates career path; analysis of the 1997-2004 national AAMC Graduation Questionnaire database. AcadMed.2007 Sep;82(9);888-94.
  3. NHS Medical Careers.
  4. Guide to alternative careers for doctors.

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria