Alternative Careers for Doctors: 4 Intriguing Examples

Whenever I speak to doctors who are contemplating alternative careers, I recommend that they ask themselves “What would I love to be doing?” instead of wondering “What are my options?” and “Who would want me with my medical degree?”. Despite what you are made to believe in medical school, the truth is that the options are unlimited! And you don’t even need to be doing healthcare-related work (this will be covered in my “Inspiring stories” section over the coming months).

While attending a recent Diagnosis Salon “Let’s Talk About Tech” (covered in my previous blog), I spoke to several doctors with alternative careers. Their career trajectories highlighted that there are plenty of opportunities in the non-clinical world for someone with a medical background.


1. From clinical practice to advising for the government

Speaking to Dr Ron Agble, an Enforcement Director at Monitor, I was embarrassed to admit that I did not know anything about Monitor. Monitor is a governmental regulator for the health services in England. After graduating from the University of Cambridge with a medical degree, Dr Agble practised as an NHS doctor for nearly 5 years during which time he completed MSc in Health Management. He then moved into leadership and advisory roles at Delloite, the Prime Minister’s Delivery Office and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

2. Designing care that fits around people

A GP by background, Dr Rupert Dunbar-Rees MBA (Twitter: @rupsdr) is the Founder of Outcomes Based Healthcare (OBH, Twitter: @OBH_UK), an organisation supporting the adoption of outcomes based approaches to healthcare. OBH works with healthcare providers, commissioners and patients who define outcomes which matter to people, and organise processes of care around specific outcomes. Speaking to Rupert, I learnt the basics of how using big data can predict health outcomes.

Dr Nasrin Hafezparast (Twitter: @nasrinZT) has a dual background in medicine and computer science and has an experience of setting up and running two tech companies. Nasrin is interested in innovative technology solutions for healthcare. At OBH, she is developing and implementing the business strategy for predicting health outcomes with big data. Recently she spoke on TEDx stage in Tehran about the rising importance of Data Science in Medicine and why it matters that doctors treat ‘real people’ rather than patients and disease.

Full interviews with both Dr Dunbar-Rees and Dr Hafezparast will be available on soon.

3. Entrepreneurship

I had a pleasure to meet Dr Claire Novorol, a Cambridge PhD graduate and a former Clinical Genetics trainee who is now applying her expertise, passion and skills working on an exciting project through a healthcare start-up.

I was also fortunate to have a chance to speak to the charismatic host and co-founder of Diagnosis, Dr Emma Stanton (Twitter: @doctorpreneur). It would take another article to list all her amazing initiatives and roles. Instead I will just say that by being someone who believes that leadership should be at the core of being a doctor, as well as someone who challenges the status quo, she is my personal role model.

4. Paediatrician and Aviva clinical transformation lead

Just before leaving the Salon, I managed to catch up with Dr Umang Patel (Twitter: @umangpatel1). He is a practising paediatric doctor who combines clinical work with being a Clinical Transformation Lead at Aviva Health UK, the third largest provider of Private Medical Insurance in the UK. I hope to interview him soon to find out how he manages to combine these two seemingly different roles.


Both through my work as a career coach for doctors, as well as my attendance at the Diagnosis Salon, I have noticed that medics are increasingly recognising that their medical knowledge, skills and expertise can be a huge asset in non-clinical settings. Your medical degree and your job title do not define who you truly are. To feel the spark in your daily work and to create a truly fulfilling career, think laterally about your professional journey. Instead of “What if it doesn’t work out?” ask yourself “What exciting opportunities are awaiting when it all works out?”

Reconnect with what really matters to you and what you stand for. Discover your passion, talents and strengths. The last step is to find the courage to step away from the well-trodden path. Miracles happen outside of your comfort zone. Expanding horizons and meeting other inspiring individuals through attending events like the Diagnosis Salon is a practical first step.

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