Nonclinical Job Warning Signs

September 5, 2020

Creating criteria by which you judge an opportunity goes beyond looking at the surface and includes watching for warning signs of predatory organizations.

As interest in non-clinical jobs is growing among physicians, it is important that doctors exercise caution when examining opportunities. There are a number of dubious prospects that you may encounter as you consider potential nonclinical jobs and side projects. The outcomes of getting entangled with questionable groups can include wasting your time, providing work without receiving adequate payment, giving personal information to malicious entities, compromising your professional reputation, and risking your medical license.

As you embark on a job search that’s not traditional, it’s vital to be selective and to carefully vet your options. Too many physicians want to be seen as a strong candidate for what looks like a great project, but don’t necessarily pay enough attention to scrutinizing the job carefully. Creating criteria by which you judge an opportunity goes beyond looking at the surface and includes watching for warning signs of predatory organizations.

Requesting Extensive Samples

Sometimes job interviews involve a test of your capability to handle the tasks you will need to tackle if you take on the position. Specialized nonclinical work can include creating guidelines or reviewing cases for utilization determinations, and not every doctor is right for the job. So, the interview process might include reviewing portions of a clinical case and giving an idea of your determination or providing a sample of your writing.

But if your interview requires creating a time consuming and extensive sample of your work or thoroughly reviewing cases, there is a chance that you are dealing with a company that is trying to acquire your work for free. There is a reasonable and considerate way for a company to test your skills, and that shouldn’t involve asking you to spend hours on assigned sample work that the company can profit from instead of forthrightly paying someone to produce it.

Exclusive Opportunities

Certainly, sometimes doctors can get a little competitive when it comes to non-clinical projects. And you might not want to tell everyone about nonclinical options that you are in the process of considering.

However, if you are told that you have access to an amazing prospect and asked not to talk about it with other physicians, someone might be up to no good. Organizations can take advantage of the much talked about physician enthusiasm for non-clinical opportunities— but keeping things “on the down low” can be a strategy for tricking people.

Networking is beneficial, and doctors who are taking on non-traditional projects can often provide a helpful, non-threatening sounding board for each other. But even if you are somewhat of a private person who doesn’t discuss details with other people, it’s important that you are not being prevented from doing so.

Surfing for Information

Some non-clinical job applications may involve vague offers to serve on an expert panel or provide your guidance as a leader in the field. But many of these offers are open to physicians who are not established leaders or highly sought-after experts. That should serve as a warning sign.

Keep in mind that a nonspecific expert panel that is open to just about any doctor who signs up is unlikely to be a real opportunity for a job. These types of offers notoriously involve filling out your contact information (or more)—and the collected lists might end up getting sold to companies that aim to send targeted advertising to physicians.

Michelle Mudge-Riley, DO, a seasoned nonclinical career coach warns doctors not to give a license number, DEA number, access to social media accounts or other personal information during a job search.

“To get paid, all you really need is to fill out a W9,” she explains.

Ground Floor Ownership

New companies can revolutionize medicine. And there are so many problems in health care that need to be solved. But when a physician is offered a chance to get in on the ground floor of a brand-new company for no compelling reason—a request for financial payment is likely to follow.

Dr. Mudge-Riley says that the title of a physician comes with high respect and prestige, and she explains that companies or individuals seek out physicians to lend credibility to a project—and unfortunately, this includes some projects that may not be legitimate or that may be malicious.

Doctors need to follow the adage “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” If you had a great idea and a business plan, would you just recruit people without a track record to partner with you? Chances are, no one else would give you ownership of their idea either.

Nonclinical opportunities can be strong sources of additional income and great experiences for doctors who seek leadership roles and promotions. But physicians need to be careful not to be too trusting. As a physician, you shouldn’t discount your own experience and value. This means carefully evaluating all opportunities and being ready to walk away if something just doesn’t feel right.