Alternative Medical Careers - A Quick Guide

We often decide to study medicine from a very early age which gives us little time to think about alternative careers - if you are interested in exploring your options, here’s a list of some careers/roles you might not have considered before.

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Health Technology

This is quite a niche field however there are so many roles you can pursue within it. If you’re interested in coding, you may want a more technical role, if not, there are so many non-technical roles available too. An emerging area where clinical expertise can be very beneficial is health informatics. Check out our blog post on getting into health tech if this is something you’re considering.

Sports Medicine

Although this career does require some traditional medical training, it’s non-traditional in the sense that there are many opportunities to work outside of an NHS hospital setting. Sports medicine is a highly competitive field, especially if you want to work for big sports teams. Working in sports medicine can allow you to meet some really cool people at the top level of their sports career, but you do need to be at the top of your game to get there. Some people may not find it as exciting because athletes are generally fit - so if you are looking for interesting cases look to work in a hospital or GP.

If you’re considering this career, you could intercalate in Sports and Exercise Medicine, or consider doing a masters or other qualifications at some point in your career, to gain more specialist knowledge. You can also attend relevant events or conferences, and potentially complete research related to sports medicine.

Humanitarian Medicine

As a humanitarian doctor you would be providing care for people in crisis scenarios, for example in countries that have been affected by war, a natural disaster or an epidemic. An organisation you could work with as a humanitarian doctor is Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). You should consider learning a second language (minimum) if you don’t already speak another language, as this is really useful when working abroad and is often a requirement for various humanitarian aid jobs.

For more resources, as well as a view on the realities of working in humanitarian medicine, check out the links below:

Aesthetic Medicine

You can take extra courses to develop the skills needed to perform (non-surgical) cosmetic procedures. This is a good option for those interested in working in private clinics, and is well-suited to medics with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Links to blogs and articles:

Media and Communications

This is great for medics with more creative interests. You could try medical journalism, or create content on a range of health and wellness topics. Examples of things you could do to broaden your skill set include intercalating in Medical Journalism, submitting your own articles to publications, or copywriting for other organisations.

Links to check out:

Health Policy

If you’re interested in policy and public health, getting involved in health policy might be a good route for you. Intercalating in a social science, such as Global Health, could be useful if this is a route you are considering. You can also get involved in policy on a smaller scale through audits and quality improvement projects where possible. Additionally, you could work with charities or shadow someone in a public health role to gain experience.

Public health and health policy is such a broad area with varying roles. Check out this Careers in Public Health Guide for more information.

Medical Law and Ethics

If you have an interest in law and ethics you could consider medico-legal work with organisations such as the Medical Defence Union (MDU) or the Medical Protection Society. You could also intercalate in Medical Ethics, or complete a masters in Medical Law & Ethics, to better prepare yourself for a career in medical law. If your medical school has a medical ethics society, you should get involved.

Interesting blogs/articles to read:

Expedition or Travel Medicine

If you’re someone who loves being outdoors, expedition medicine allows you to work in a range of locations, providing care for adventure travellers. For example, you could be providing medical care for mountain climbers or scuba divers.

Useful links:

Pharmaceutical Medicine

If you’re interested in the development of medicines, you could look into a variety of areas in the pharma industry such as regulations and medical affairs, drug safety, medical marketing and clinical research. Check out the links below for more info about pharmaceutical medicine careers:

Corporate Careers

You could consider completely branching out to another field such as finance or consulting. If you’re interested in this path, you could try to complete internships during your holidays. There are also consulting internships and electives specifically available for medical students (BCG and McKinsey). Additionally, you can join finance or consulting societies at your university if available.

Further reading:


If you’re someone who wants to run a business, you could leave medicine to pursue entrepreneurship alone, or you could run a company alongside your medical career.

Check out these interviews on the Doctorpreneurs site to see examples of doctors who have founded their own companies.

If entrepreneurship is an area of interest, consider taking part in the Clinical Entrepreneurship Programme.

Working Abroad

You may still want to practise medicine traditionally but maybe in a different country or different healthcare system. If you’re considering going abroad, check out Progress with Jess’ relocation guides for more information about the steps you need to take to practise medicine outside of the UK.


In addition to the list of potential routes, here is some general advice regarding alternative medical career options:

  • Be open-minded

  • Attend events that catch your eye even if they aren’t medically related

  • Explore all your interests as much as possible - you might take steps to pursue an alternative medical career for a while and realise it’s not for you - the most important thing is realising that you can carve your own unique career path and don’t have to feel forced down a “conveyor belt” if you don’t want to.

  • Think about what your ideal career looks like, what your strengths/weaknesses are, the type of environment you would like to work in etc. to make well informed career decisions

  • Network - it’s important to speak to people who are currently in your field of interest to gain insight into the role and to get advice on the right steps to take to gain experience.

  • If you are thinking about leaving clinical medicine - don’t allow other people make you feel bad about it (at the end of the day it’s your career and your life, if you have made a well thought-out decision you should stand by it)

If you’re interested in alternative medical careers, be sure to check out our Alternative Careers Instagram Live series.

Finally, here are some links for further reading:

Written by: Honey Ajisefini (Co-Founder of The Black & Forth Platform)


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