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Some physicians want to stay active in the medical profession, but they want to take a short-term or long-term break from clinical practice. Some may be burned out and frustrated with managed care and insurance issues, while others may want more flexibility or the opportunity to work from home.
Physician executive positions are among the many non-clinical options for doctors, especially those who want to stay connected to a hospital setting. But keep in mind that the job of a physician in a hospital executive role will likely pay less than what you make in clinical practice, depending on your specialty. Most healthcare executive salaries are in the low six figures, which is about equal to a family physician job.
Physician executive positions require strong interpersonal skills—you'll need to deal not only with other doctors, but with lawyers, the public, the news media and, in some cases, the corporate ownership of a hospital. It can be challenging work, but also somewhat recession-proof. There are hospitals of all sizes throughout the country, and they all need leadership.