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Non-Clinical But Necessary: The Role Of The Physician Advisor


Nowadays, doctors are opting for less traditional job opportunities. Many young graduates understand that the typical long hours at the clinic aren’t working out so well for them and that it’s okay to branch out into new roles. 

But while they might not enjoy practicing medicine as a whole, they do love going through medical cases. Cue, the physician advisor. 

Physician advisorship is an interesting new profession that emerged in the heyday of hospital care rules and regulations. They help both practicing physicians and patients at the same time. And it’s not hard to see why: hospital bureaucracy has made it arduous for anyone to sort a mismanaged system out.

This is why more and more hospitals are turning to hire physician advisors, both for the security of their staff and to help streamline patient care. And because of the nature of the job, it has become a really tempting career option for many physicians wanting a change. If you have the mindset for it, that is.

So today, let’s discuss what a physician advisor actually does and why it might be your next career transition:

  • What it means to be a physician advisor
  • What do hospitals look for when hiring for the position
  • Physician advisor as an alternative career for doctors

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What Is A Physician Advisor?

The problem with defining what a physician advisor is is that it’s actually a pretty broad term with many job requirements. But the basic idea is that they work as the middle man – between the patient, the hospital, and any stakeholders or corporations.

They review initiatives and regulations behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Think of a physician advisor as a liaison, the bridge between medicine and management workings within a healthcare setting. They are employed by hospitals to help make sure that communications between patients, staff, and management happen without any issues.

Because they are licensed doctors, physician advisors can offer second opinions on treatment plans, stays, and risk assessments for more difficult cases. They often act as secondary consultants, providing a non-standard plan of action.

Other obligations of their jobs include reviewing different patient cases if they are denied by insurance, managing hospital-wide programs, and reviewing future employment by the hospital administration.

They are there to ensure smooth communications and organize everything according to regulations set by governing bodies. They are also trying to improve a set system through innovation by introducing new techniques and practices that could further streamline the hospital’s operations.

Patients, doctors, nurses, clinical and non-clinical staff, and even third-party corporations such as insurance companies and resources all depend upon the physician advisor to communicate and deal with them seamlessly.

To be a physician advisor is to become one of the most integral parts of the hospital administration, thanks to their relationship with everyone involved with said hospital. 

Sounds like a lot? That’s because it is. It’s why being a physician advisor is a proper job title now, with plenty of obligations on your plate.

Why Do Hospitals Need A Physician Advisor?

With how fast-paced the world of medicine and healthcare has become, it’s getting harder and harder to manage it all. So, a physician advisor has become necessary, helping everyone around them precisely because they aren’t just some guy with an MBA.

Physician advisors have the unique perspective of being licensed practitioners themselves. 

That means they have experience in the field they will be managing, which can translate into excellent guidance for newly hired doctors at the hospital. And because they used to work directly with patients themselves, physician advisors can also help on that front.

Hospitals depend on physician advisors because they blend their expertise in medicine with the inner workings of management and risk assessment. 

It’s why they play a key administrative role as well, finding solutions to certain policies or issues that might prove distracting from the actual goal of helping patients.

It sounds like a lot of smoothing over communications because that is essentially what it is.

Physician advisors are the voice of reason, providing a problem-solving role on the business side while still considering the betterment of other physicians and patients.

What It Takes To Become A Physician Advisor

Honestly, anyone with an M.D. degree can apply for the position of becoming a physician advisor. But what would set you apart from other applicants would be your interpersonal skills, how well you do when it comes to organizing workflow, and whether you can take on a leadership role.

A physician advisor has to have great communication skills, which means being able to talk over things with everyone, from patients to staff and even third-party providers. 

But the main reason why it’s important to be a licensed doctor if you’re applying for a physician advisor job? The medical experience. There’s a reason why most hospitals prefer hiring physicians who have previously worked in emergency medicine and internal medicine.

Their experience means they are quick on their feet and have a deep understanding of how a hospital truly operates. That kind of quick thinking and assessment is hard to come by, and it’s especially valued here.

It’s also why inpatient physicians tend to do better on the job, thanks to a core understanding of how healthcare works.

But even beyond that, a physician advisor’s medical knowledge would help them when assigning cases to hospital staff. They would also be able to see through any flaws in insurance claims, providing a second opinion if patients are denied something they genuinely need.

There is also an element of customer service here, as a physician advisor also functions as a representative for the hospital if the occasion arises. For example, if there’s a disagreement between the patient and their doctor, a physician advisor would be called in to smooth things over.

You have to be flexible but assured in the knowledge and experience you have. You also should have your speaking skills down because there is a lot of talking involved. So, if you aren’t ready to be a people person? This might not be the fit for you.

The drive to lead, motivate, and problem-solve are the base-level requirements to become a physician advisor, which will later be refined into your actual skillset. 

Why Physician Advisor Is A Great Alternative Career

Physician advisors have always existed in the hospital setting, but before, they were under the ‘medical reviewer’ umbrella, often just as a part-time occupation. Now, it’s become a full-fledged position that offers benefits, including the luxury of a simple 9-to-5.

Because, let’s face it, the reason you’d leave a clinical job behind to become a physician advisor in the first place is because you don’t want to stay in an active clinical setting anymore. And that’s perfectly fine.

At the rate the world is going, it’s no surprise that more physicians feel burnt out yearly, notably after being the first line of defense during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The worst part is that it’s likely not because they don’t want to deal with patients anymore. Instead, they want to shift to the administrative side and have more control over how patients are dealt with in the healthcare system. As a regular doctor, you can’t do much for them beyond the basics.

Listen, it’s hard being a practicing physician. For some, the reward is not worth the grueling hours. And while it does take a lot of effort and training to transition out of a clinical position into a more administrative one like a physician advisor, it’s a welcome change.

It also helps that most physician advisors earn in the six digits, making anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 per year. That’s with a relatively regular schedule that would require zero overtime or night shifts.

And open weekends! Simply unheard of in clinical medicine.

Sure, you won’t be making as much as a neurosurgeon would. But if that’s what you wanted, you probably wouldn’t be looking into changing to a non-clinical job in the first place.

But say you have an interest in upgrading patient welfare. Maybe you enjoy the business side of things and creating contacts. Or you just want to help innovate the hospital management landscape. Or maybe you just want to shift to a non-clinical job while still being in a hospital setting.

In that case? Becoming a physician advisor holds a lot of potential.

Physician Advisor: Is It For You?

A physician advisor is a mediator who helps in patient affairs and consults administration when making certain choices regarding staff and third-party clients, all the while communicating effectively with everyone. 

And that’s a tall order to fulfill. There is so much management and guidance involved, with a physician advisor being the first person the hospital will turn to when it comes to decision-making. So, it is a lot of responsibility with a lot of risk.

A good physician advisor can change how a healthcare facility functions. It’s their job to make sure the hospital is running without any hiccups. Even if it is technically a non-clinical job, there is just so much you have to be involved with that it can be overwhelming if you’re unprepared.

But it can also be very fulfilling, with you acting more as the leader and helping pave the way for a better system for everyone involved. 

So, if you’re in the mood to transition to a new job and you really love talking things out? You just might have what it takes to become a physician advisor yourself!


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