In today’s episode you will hear from Dr. John Jurica about physician non-clinical careers and physician side gigs.
“It’s a two and half page sheet with the 70 non-clinical careers that I’m aware of. There’s actually more than 70 but it has a resource for each. So if you haven’t had your mind blown yet about what’s out there, that’s the easiest thing to do.” -John V. Jurica, MD, MPH, CPE
In today’s episode, Dr. Jen Barna talks to Dr. John Jurica about non-clinical careers.
John Jurica is a board-certified family physician who began doing non-clinical side jobs early in his career as UM physician advisor and occupational medicine medical director. He then transitioned to hospital administration, first as VP for Medical Affairs, and then as Chief Medical Officer. Today, he shares his wealth of knowledge about non-clinical careers for physicians as well as sharing his own journey as a physician and how he transitioned into non-clinical careers. If you are interested in a non-clinical career or a side gig, this is the episode for you. Dr. Jurica also offers our listeners some helpful resources which are listed below!
- Check out a free list of 70 nontraditional jobs, each with an associated resource, at nonclinicalphysicians.com/70jobs.
- Visit Dr. Jurica’s Nonclinical Career Academy: https://nonclinicalcareeracademy.com and as a special for our listeners, Dr. Jurica is offering 20% off of any course using the coupon code: “TWENTYOFF”
Dr. Jurica completed a master’s degree in public health while in practice, and certification as a physician executive (CPE) through the American Association for Physician Leadership. He left his CMO position to partner in an urgent care start-up in 2014, where he continues to serve as owner and medical director.
In 2017, John started producing the weekly Physician Nonclinical Careers Podcast, where he presents interviews with physician entrepreneurs, medical directors, hospital executives, managers, coaches and other experts in physician career transition. His podcast was listed as a Feedspot Top 20 Physicians Podcasts You Must Follow in 2020 and 2021.
In 2018, he created the Nonclinical Career Academy (nonclincalcareeracademy.com), an online educational platform with individual courses and a membership site designed to help physicians accelerate their career pivots.
Dr. Jurica and Dr. Tom Davis recently launched NewScript, an online community of healthcare professionals, career transition mentors, and wellness specialists helping each other live a better life. It is a private, uncensored, and ad-free space that incorporates a forum, daily posts, mentorship programs, online courses, livestream events and interviews with clinicians who have transitioned to a nontraditional career.
You can connect with Dr. Jurica at the Nonclinical Physicians website: https://nonclinicalphysicians.com
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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran
Please enjoy the full transcript below
Dr. John: It’s a two and half page sheet with the 70 non clinical jobs that I’m aware of. There’s actually more than 70 but it has a resource for each. So, if you haven’t had your mind blown yet about what’s out there, that’s the easiest thing to do.
Jen: Hello, everyone. We’re so excited you’re here with us today. I’m Dr. Jen Barna with DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast brought to you by DocWorking THRIVE. Please check us out at docworking.com for more information on how you can subscribe today.
And now, on today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about physicians and nonclinical careers. I’m so excited to be joined by Dr. John Jurica, host of Physician Nonclinical Careers Podcast, a family practice physician with multiple nonclinical career tracks in his own journey. Welcome, John, to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
Dr. John: Good morning. I’m very happy to be here. It’s great fun. I’ve been waiting for this for a little while.
Jen: Terrific. Well, I’m so honored to have you here. I love your podcast, I love the concept of exploring nonclinical careers and exploring side careers as a physician. So, I’m very excited to hear your perspective, and I’d love it if you could start out and just tell us a little bit about your journey, and how you came to where you are today.
Dr. John: Okay. Let me try and keep it as brief as I can, because I started practicing in 1986. So, it’s been a little while ago. I’m trained as a family physician. I joined a small group and I enjoyed every aspect of it but I became interested in some side gigs. It was as a moonlighting thing initially, but over the years, I started getting involved with hospital committees, I was paid as a physician advisor and a medical director for a couple of things. Then, there was a push and pull in a way, because I started to get a little burned out. We started having issues with Medicare regulations and I had several lawsuits that luckily, I was dropped from.
All these things hit me and I decided that I really wanted to look at doing something besides clinical medicine. Over time, I phased into VP MA for hospital, and then the Chief Medical Officer and at the time was senior VP. So, I was part of the senior executive management team. Did that for 14 years and then I decided I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. So, I left that job and opened an urgent care center with a bunch of investors and I’ve been doing that for seven years. I’m the medical director and a minority shareholder in that. Along the way, I started a couple of blogs and then a podcast. I got interested in nonclinical careers not only for myself, but for others, and that’s basically where I am today.
Jen: Wow. You’ve had a very interesting trajectory and I would love to know more about each of those steps. For example, you’ve mentioned becoming the Chief Medical Officer. For our listeners who are early in their careers and who may be interested in moving into that type of leadership position, I’m curious if you can tell us a little bit about that experience, and then you also mentioned some issues with burnout that led you to explore nonclinical careers. So, I would love to talk with you more about that as well.
Dr. John: Okay. Let me tell you some of the steps I went through, what kind of path I followed. It’s not necessarily the only path, but early on, I got involved in a lot of things. I went to lots of different committee meetings and even I went to department meetings that I wasn’t a member of. I go to the pediatrics department, ER department to learn. I got involved early in providing CME and I became the Chair of the CME committee. I ended up becoming a surveyor for the State Medical Society for CME and then the ACCME, ultimately. I was a joiner, and I wanted to learn, and so I would get exposed to these different things. Because I spent a lot of time in the hospital, I got to know the department chairs and the department managers. The nurse managers for quality improvement in the pharmacy. I went to the pharmacy and therapeutics committee meetings as well. So, that gave me an exposure and an understanding of what went on in the hospital. The ideal situation for a hospitalist these days. I was in family medicine, but at the time, the hospitalist movement hadn’t even started. Now, it’s obviously a big deal.
So, I had the interest, I had the exposure, and I had opportunities, where they needed someone to do a job like a physician advisor for utilization management. I would do that part time, an hour a day, make a little extra money, and wouldn’t have to see as many patients. Then, I decided to get involved in occupational medicine as another way to moonlight for the hospital that I was already working for. Lo and behold, they needed a medical director. Then, I could do some of the management of that service line, get paid for that as well as seeing patients while doing my primary care practice. Ultimately, the burnout started to phase in where I was starting to really hate some of my patients. One skill I never learned was how to fire patients. I had a partner that could fire patients and he was always a lot happier than I was, because I had these patients who were coming in every week, every two weeks. Ultimately, I said, ” I just want to move into something that doesn’t involve direct patient care so much.”
What I learned from that is just getting involved learning skills, becoming chair of committees, you’ll learn how to manage a team, you learn how to manage a meeting. Then along the way, I also got a Master’s in Public Health for the [unintelligible [00:05:22] med side of things but that provided me also some management teaching. I joined the APL, which is the American Association for Physician Leadership, which is an awesome organization that teaches physicians how to be leaders and how to be managers. I just gradually shifted my time, more and more administrative and less and less clinical. So, I stopped seeing patients completely for about four years.
Jen: I love what you said there, John, about how important it is to serve on all of the committees that you served on early on, because sometimes that can feel time that’s not well spent when you’re asked to be on a lot of committees, and of course, when you’re in that phase of your career, you’re not getting paid to be on those committees. At least, my experience has been that your list of patients that you’re scheduled to see that day doesn’t change because you have committee meetings. So, it’s really added on and it can lengthen your day. Of course, it is important as well to be able to set boundaries and be able to decide for yourself which things you want to serve on.
But you bring up a great point that if ultimately moving toward administrative work, a leadership position such as a Chief Medical Officer, all of that service that you do through those committees and through other organizations in the medical arena, wherever you are in your state, for example, that really ultimately adds up. Should you ever choose to pursue a leadership position within your own institution or outside of your institution, keeping track of all of that service really can serve you well. So, I just appreciate you going through that with us, because it makes a lot of sense when we hear you say it.
Dr. John: Let me comment on a couple things here that you’ve pointed out and just to focus on. You’re better off becoming the chair of one or two committees than to be a member of 5 or 10, because a member of a committee really doesn’t do anything except vote on things. You don’t learn unless you’re the chairman in some of these meetings. There’s also volunteer things outside the hospital. I was on the hospital board for several years before I was actually employed by the hospital, because they needed physicians on the board that were interested. I’ve served on the board of hospice, which is an awesome place to learn about finances, planning, and project planning, and all that. The other thing you said is really important is keeping track of the accomplishments as you go, what you actually did, because eventually that’s going to be on your LinkedIn profile is going to be on your resume. So, awesome advice.
Jen: Well, I appreciate hearing it from you as well, because I didn’t necessarily do that myself in terms of tracking all of that. I think it’s also a great idea and goes along with tracking to give yourself credit for all of that work, acknowledge it, and celebrate it in your own way. You mentioned some feelings of burnout that led you in the direction of exploring these nonclinical options, and then ultimately, you took a break, you said for four years, from working directly with patients, but then you came back around to working with patients. Is that correct and I’m curious what led you there?
Dr. John: I had no intention of doing that. Once I stopped seeing patients in the hospital setting, I was moving forward as a CMO and very busy. The job was a very good job. It paid well and it was fun. But I started to get this feeling like I want to do something and slow down as an approach to retirement. You can’t really slow down as a Chief Medical Officer and if I had stayed on, I’d maybe even become the CEO or something. That’s a full-time job. As I was approaching the slowdown period that was in medical practice, you can slow down. Again, with the entrepreneurial bent that I have, I said, “Okay.”
Someone actually reached out to me on LinkedIn, asked me to be a Medical Director for this new Urgent Care Center and invest in it. I looked it over, and did my due diligence, and I thought, “Okay, this will be good.” It wasn’t easy. I would not recommend that. I would recommend someone continue to see patients part time if they have any inkling that they’re going to go back in the practice. But I did take my boards, again, the head was just about a year overdue. Luckily, I was still licensed, but I had to reapply for my DEA. It’s possible that if you find yourself in this situation after three or four years, you won’t be able to get malpractice insurance. Luckily, I could overcome all those issues and I did.
I did focus on urgent care. Urgent care is a very narrow part of family medicine. It’s not as difficult to learn those skills back or refresh yourself as, let’s say, going back into a subspecialty or something if you haven’t done a procedure or seeing patients in for years to be very difficult.
Jen: Well, it’s great to hear that it is actually possible to come back because that is one of the concerns that we have in our careers, is that if we do step away, it can be really difficult to come back. So, I’m glad to hear that success story of having accomplished that. You mentioned your entrepreneurial spirit and interest, when did that begin and when did you notice that for the first time?
Dr. John: I’ve always had that. It’s part of the reason I did the side gigs and the side hustles. I remember doing different strange things, like trying to sell online knickknacks or something back when I was in my 20s and 30s.
Jen: Me too.
Dr. John: My wife actually started a business 11 years ago with my help. She has a home helpers’ franchise. Again, that reignited my interest in doing something entrepreneurial. But it’s in the family and half of my siblings own their own businesses.
Jen: Terrific. I love hearing stories of people that have always had that and in retrospect see that coming along. You’ve really put that to use and you’ve turned it into a podcast. When did you first get the idea for the Physician Nonclinical Careers Podcast?
Dr. John: Let’s see, it was about five years ago, more or less. I was writing a blog about contracting for physicians as employees, because I did a lot of that as a CMO. Then, that morphed into a different blog where I was focusing on my experiences as Chief Medical Officer. As I was looking around, I knew there were lots of other jobs in the hospital health system environment. Jobs [unintelligible 00:11:12] jobs here and there, and I wanted to learn about them. At the time, I was listening to podcasts. I really enjoyed listening. As I was working in the urgent care, I had a 90-minute drive one way, which is crazy. I was listening to a lot of podcasts. I thought, “Well, I’d like to do a podcast.” I thought, “Well, what’s the best way to learn about nonclinical careers?” Well, I’ll just interview a bunch of people that are doing nonclinical careers and do a podcast at the same time, there must be some interest. That’s how I got started.
Jen: Yes. What has your experience been in podcasting? Has it been as you expected it would be?
Dr. John: I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s been rewarding. I really like it. Technology has become so simple that to produce a podcast 10 years ago, it would have been a nightmare. You would have to host it yourself. Now, you’ve got places where you just put it on a hosting site. It takes a lot of steps to put together and a lot of planning to put together a podcast. But what I’ve learned about it and what I’ve learned to like more about it is, in spite of myself being an introvert, podcasting is the best way to network. I have so many colleagues and friends that I consider now to be close friends. Dozens and dozens of people like you, who are doing podcasting or other things, taught me about their nonclinical career, their coaching experiences, or their consulting experiences. I’m just almost overwhelmed by the people I’ve met and what I’ve learned in the last four years on this podcast that I’m doing.
Jen: Yes, it is phenomenal in that way. Likewise, I find the same thing. Another person that I know and you know is Bradley Block of another physician podcast. When I was speaking with him, I asked him the same question, or similar question anyway, which is, “If you’re a physician who’s considering starting a podcast, would you consider that to be a side hustle that is potentially income producing?” What’s been your experience there?
Dr. John: Okay. The way I look at a podcast is, number one, for many of us, it starts as a hobby. A podcast is a platform that should be and can be used to promote your business. Most people, the podcast is not the business, unless you’re Joe Rogan or Tim Ferriss, or someone like that who makes a lot of money on their podcast. Usually, I look at a podcast as being a way to meet people to do the interviews, to build an audience that I can address through email, and sell courses to, coaching to, or other things. So, it’s part of a business, but most of the time, it is not a business in and of itself. Although I have a sponsor for my podcasts, I make some money on the podcast directly.
Jen: Terrific. Now, speaking of having a business, you also have Nonclinical Careers Academy, which is a business that your listeners, I’m sure, are very interested in. Can you tell me a little bit about what that is and how people can access that?
Dr. John: Yes. The genesis of that was about three years ago, I wanted to share what I’ve been learning, what I knew already about being, let’s say, an executive in a hospital and that kind of thing, and teach physicians, because it seems there’s a lot of physicians who really become interested, but they don’t even know where to start. It’s a common question, “Where do I start?” And then, “Well, okay, once I start, then what do I do?” Again, the technology, it’s so easy to create a video course or an online course of some sort and post it. You’ve got platforms now. I just signed up at teachable. So, I’m going to create this academy.
Basically, I have lectures there, some solo, individual lectures, and some actual courses. For example, I have a course in there on how to become a medical science liaison, and I have courses on how to become a physician executive. It’s just a place where it’s easy to access for physicians. They can purchase individual courses if they have particular topics they’re interested in. We can engage in their comments. Basically, anybody that’s in the academy can ask me questions. I pretty much provide free coaching in the sense that I’ll answer their questions and help hold their hand through the process. But most of the physicians come in and it actually has an option for a membership site where it’s less costly. You just pay monthly for as long as you need it, and they’ll come in for six months or so and take whatever courses they want to do. I usually add a new course or two every quarter. There’s 23 or 24 courses and lessons there. It’s just there as a resource for physicians who don’t want to necessarily listen to a lot of podcasts, do a lot of research, or read a lot of books and go and learn in the academy.
Jen: Well, time is always our biggest limiting factor. So, it sounds phenomenal to be able to go there and just immediately choose what you’re most interested in learning about and focus on that. Hats off to you. It sounds like a fantastic resource. With your knowledge, for the podcast, I think you’re around 230 episodes in. Is that correct?
Dr. John: Yeah. I’m in about 230 episodes, but I do a lot of solo episodes, too, and some of my guests come back for repeat appearances, but I’ve probably got about 140 or 150 interviews. That’s a number of people that I’ve talked to that are doing mostly non clinical or nontraditional jobs. I do talk to people that invest in real estate, do locum tenens, do DPC, or the nontraditional ways of practicing as well.
Jen: Based on your experience and based on the knowledge you’ve accumulated from speaking with all of these people, what would you say to a physician who’s interested in possibly pursuing a nonclinical career? What would you say are the top three best options?
Dr. John: Well, I could look at that in different ways, but let me look at it this way. What are the three that I hear about most commonly as a good entry-level, starting job for somebody? The ones I’m going to mention are actually all full time, which I do recommend if you can do something part time, or do a pivot, or a pilot, or something, do that. But the ones that I see people going into because they’re really frustrated or they’re really unfulfilled in their practices, utilization management, which can be done for an insurance company, it can be done for a hospital, it can be done for a third-party company, it can be done remotely, it can be done on site, it’s very flexible. Almost any practitioner, any specialty can do that. That’s a common one. It’s very popular.
The second, I would say, is a medical science liaison. I had never heard that term until about four years ago. I guess what I’m saying indirectly is pharma is the other area, but of the pharma jobs that are out there, which there are thousands of jobs and dozens of different jobs within pharma, the MSL seems to be one that’s attractive, because anybody can get into it, including physicians who are not licensed or haven’t done a residency, because it’s really based on your medical and scientific background.
The third one would be some form of medical writing. Because you can do that as a freelancer, as an employee. You can become an editor. You can do it all different ways. So, those three, I guess, are the ones that come into my head. UM, medical writing, and some job in pharma, probably MSL.
Jen: Would you say for those three that the compensation is comparable to what you may make as a clinician?
Dr. John: Yes, it usually is. It’s close, especially if you consider the time, the hours, the [unintelligible 00:18:33], the liability costs, and the fact you don’t need insurance, etc. Some of those vary at the start. Especially if you don’t have the residency, it might be $150, $170, but pretty much going to be around $200 equal to and above what you would make as either a primary care doctor. Now, there are some specialists to go, let’s say into UM or benefits management, and they get paid very well, because if you’re a radiologist and you’re doing radiology UM reviews, you’re going to be making good money, less than you would as an interventional radiologist, but still decent money and your lifestyles can be 1,000% better.
Jen: Fantastic. Now, you and I are both, I think, interested in the concept of financial independence, and certainly, as entrepreneurs, I think we’re universally interested in that. I think that’s part of the motivation. I’m really also curious about the concept of side gigs versus full time non clinical work. What’s your opinion, how do you differentiate between those, and do you talk about side gigs on your podcast?
Dr. John: Yeah, all the time. I’ve interviewed many people who are doing side gigs that have blown my mind in some ways. One of the things I’ve observed, for example, is there are people who are very busy as clinicians. They’re not necessarily burnt out, but they’re somehow unfulfilled. They will take on a side gig. It could be a hobby. It could be something that they did when they were younger, and now, they’re bringing it back. I had one orthopedic surgeon working full time, who became a partner in an investment firm part time. He was happier doing that, even though he was super busy. Now, I think he has a risk of becoming burnt out but he’s actually more fulfilled and happy, because he does both. He has the ability to cut back on his clinical and do the side gig more. There’s many things like that. Small businesses becoming a consultant, becoming a coach. Again, these things you can do full time or part time. Yeah, I think there’s a lot to be said for that, and also, that thing is, again, if you want to do it full time, it’s good to be able to do it part time for a while first.
Jen: I agree completely, and I think it definitely brings up the point that everything is not black and white. I think as physicians, we tend to think of it that way, and when you get in that position of feeling some burnout, it can feel like your only choice is to stay or go. In reality, there is a lot in between that you can explore and working with coaches has really been a mind shift for me, and I’m hoping that other people will see that as giving them that potential ability to reflect with a coach and see things from a different perspective. It can open up doors so that you can see what’s in front of you that maybe you just hadn’t recognized was there before, and that includes not only side gigs as a way of doing something that you enjoy on the side, but also a way of improving your income and giving you an option if you ever want to partially step out or eventually, completely step out, it just opens up the options for you.
I love talking about this with you. I definitely hope that you’ll be someone who is a repeat guest on our podcast, and I really appreciate you coming here today. This is Dr. John Jurica, of Physician Nonclinical Physician Podcast and owner of Nonclinical Career Academy. One other thing, Dr. Jurica. What ways can people get in touch with you and if you don’t mind, just telling me also quickly about your new project that you’ve just launched?
Dr. John: Oh, boy. There’s so many different things that I could talk about because over the years, I’ve just accumulated these things, but let me start with the most recent. A partner and I, Tom Davis of Tom Davis Consulting, he’s pretty well known in the nonclinical career fields. He teaches telemedicine. We started something called NewScript. You can find it at newscript.app, A-P-P. It’s basically an app on your phone, and it’s all about nonclinical careers, but it includes any kind of licensed healthcare professionals. It’s not just physicians. But most of the people there now are physicians. We’ve been open for about a month, and we’ve got around 300 members now. We want to grow it. It’s an alternative to a Facebook group, because there’s no ads, it’s confidential. But again, we’re opening this up to everyone who’s in the healthcare team that has had burnout or wants to try new things. So, that’s newscript.app. That’s one thing.
Everything for me is found at nonclinicalphysicians.com. Rather than just go and look around my website, which is boring in a way, but that’s where my podcasts are. But if you go to nonclinical physicians.com/70jobs, 7-0-J-O-B-S, I think people like to look at that, because it’s a two-and-a-half-page sheet with the 70 non-clinical jobs that I’m aware of. There’s actually more than 70, but it has a resource for each. If you haven’t had your mind blown yet about what’s out there, that’s the easiest thing to do. Get that download, look at it, see what kind of resources might lead you to that job or if you want to learn more. That’s probably the easiest way to get into my world, because you’ll probably start getting my daily emails. You can imagine, daily emails, that sounds bad, but it’s actually very good.
Jen: Terrific. That sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to see that list and explore that as well. So, thank you so much for providing that to our listeners. If someone is interested in Nonclinical Career Academy in terms of subscribing or purchasing that, is that also on the same site?
Dr. John: Yes, you can find it there, but you can go directly to nonclinicalcareeracademy.com. Just by virtue of listening today, if you do see something that you want to enroll in, when you go to register, you can do the TWENTYOFF coupon code, that’s TWENTYOFF, just for listening to this podcast episode and you get 20% off of whatever it is you decide to purchase of anything.
Jen: Thank you. We will reference that in the show notes and we’ll put some links there. For anyone, who’s listening, who’s interested, you’ll be able to just click right through from our show notes. Thank you again Dr. John Jurica for coming on to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
Dr. John: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks a lot, Jen.
Jill: As a doctor, you’ve probably spent a lot of time comparing yourself to other physicians and you might even have that imposter syndrome broken record playing round and round in your head. It’s not very helpful. What you need is an experienced coach, one who works with physicians to help them build confidence from the inside out. Doctors who were coached report feeling more competent, which lowers their stress and helps them feel more at ease. That ultimately serves patients, because what patient doesn’t want to have a doctor that feels calm and confident.
Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you for being here. Please check us out at docworking.com and please don’t forget to like and subscribe. Thank you for listening.