50 Nonclinical Careers – Meet the Author!


Today we have a special guest, Dr. Sylvie Stacy, founder of Look For Zebras and author of the newly released, 50 Nonclinical Careers for Physicians. Look For Zebras is a website that offers information about nonclinical jobs and job listings as well as a weekly newsletter. 

Read on to learn more about Dr. Stacy and her new book!

Q: Can you tell us a little about where your career has taken you so far?

My first job after my Preventative Medicine residency was as Corporate Medical Director for a correctional healthcare provider. This was partly clinical, though the majority of my time was spent on administrative responsibilities, including clinical oversight of the company’s contracted facilities, utilization management, policy development, provider education, and some clinical informatics. Since then, I’ve moved to a similar organization, but in a role in which I have more of a focus on utilization management. I’ve done medical writing on a freelance or part-time basis since residency. I continue to do part-time contracted clinical work, as well.

Q: How did you get the idea for Look For Zebras?

Through my own pursuit of fulfillment in my career, I’ve realized that there is a huge amount of opportunity for physicians both within and outside of patient care. Medical training only touches on the breadth of ways in which we can use our medical degrees. 

I started Look for Zebras to arm other medical professionals with the knowledge needed to be proactive in their careers.

Medical students are often told, “When you hear hoof beats, look for horses, not for zebras,” meaning you shouldn’t chase rare diagnoses in your workups. 

But the opposite is true of our careers in medicine. “Hoof beats” in our careers can be opportunities for jobs, side gigs, networking, or any other professional activity. The “zebras” are those rare opportunities that are a perfect fit for our interests, that will help us achieve our professional goals, and that compensate well.

Q: What type of content do you find your readers like the most?

The two most popular topics are non-clinical careers and anything about ways to earn more income.

I’ve seen so much interest in information on non-clinical careers that I recently published the book 50 Nonclinical Careers for Physicians. It describes 50 different jobs across ten sectors in which physicians can use their medical experience and knowledge outside of a conventional patient care setting.

Q: What have you learned about physicians in transition as creator of Look For Zebras?

I’ve learned that there’s a general lack of awareness of all the unconventional jobs that physicians are a great fit for. I completely understand why this is. There is a dearth of accessible, quality information about nonclinical careers. And it’s not a topic that we’re taught in medical training. 

Additionally, I’ve learned that, while many physicians realize they want to make a transition, many don’t immediately see how their experience is fitting for various nonclinical jobs.

Both of these are what motivated me to write the book.

Q: Do you have one or two pearls of wisdom for physicians considering leaving medicine?

Spend time doing two things. First, if you haven’t already, think about your long-term career goals and what truly makes you happy. It’s probably not just a high salary! 

Second, educate yourself about the options. It’s not enough to submit a generic resume to the first nonclinical job posting you come across that looks interesting. Be selective in what you apply for and be able to articulate why it’s a great position for you.

Q: What do you think is one of the bigger misconceptions about nonclinical jobs? 

The main myths about nonclinical medicine that I repeatedly come across are:

  • We have a moral or ethical obligation to spend our entire careers treating patients.
  • You need to have a ton of experience to land a good nonclinical job.
  • Nonclinical physicians are responsible for the physician shortage our health care system is facing.

I go into detail about why these (and others) are misconceptions in my book because, if you believe any of these, it will interfere with having a successful transition.

Q: Besides the blog and the book, what other services do you offer physicians?

I released the book at the same time as an online quiz: What nonclinical career is right for you? It asks readers a series of questions about their preferences and situations to identify a nonclinical job that may suit them well.

One issue that many physicians face when considering nonclinical jobs is picking a specific job area to pursue. Even though the book goes into a lot of detail, I didn’t want readers to feel overwhelmed by the number of options. The results of the quiz can give readers a place to start.

Other Look for Zebras resources include a job board of nonclinical and otherwise unconventional jobs, a weekly newsletter of opportunities – The Stampede, and a few free downloads such as a resume template and contract review checklist.

Q: What are the most fun and the most challenging parts of producing Look For Zebras?

As I work to grow readership, it’s fun to see an article really take off and see the site’s visitor numbers and email list subscribers grow.

One of the main challenges is that having a successful job board requires interests from a completely separate group of people – that is, employers and recruiters. It’s not easy to appeal to two different audiences as once. This is an aspect I’m working hard at.

Q: What is the most common question physicians ask you about nonclinical careers?

They ask how and where to find jobs and consulting work. Many of them have an atypical factor that somehow makes their pursuit of a fulfilling career challenging. For example, they’re an international medical grad and haven’t been able to land a residency, or they’ve taken years off from practicing medicine to raise a kid, they’ve lost their license. 

Everyone’s situation is unique and, while readers find the Look for Zebras blog helpful, they really want individualized information, as well. I’m thinking hard about ways that Look for Zebras can offer more personal services to readers.

Q: Where can people find your book?

Get your hot-off-the-press copy of 50 Nonclinical Careers for Physicians right here!

We’ve needed a book like this for a long time and Sylvie Stacy did a fantastic job. Run, don’t walk, to get your copy.


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  1. Dr.Sadaf Salahuddin on May 28, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    It’s a great website, i have been following it from a few months, quite informative, but what it lacks is to recommend resources for global audiences, I mean IMGs. I would to request for suggesting options that are open for doctors to work from anywhere in the world….it would be a great help indeed, especially for female doctors with young children

    • Heather Fork on May 28, 2020 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks so much for reading the blog Dr. Sadaf. I will see if Dr. Stacy would like to respond to this. I do hear from a good number of IMGs who are seeking work in the US and I know it is hard to find information and navigate the job-search process. Thank you for your feedback!

  2. Mental Health Arena on June 5, 2020 at 2:52 am

    This is a wonderful blog post so far. I can’t even leave without dropping a relevant comment to this post cause it’s a nice blog post the writer did a great job on this post cause the post is very relevant especially the topic that says; 50 Nonclinical Careers.
    I will be coming back to check on your new post and bookmark your blog as well.
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After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

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Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

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When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

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I had been a practicing Internist for 20 years when I reached a point when I needed to make a serious change in my career path. While I enjoyed seeing patients, I was not satisfied with my life-work balance. My job was taking me away from my family and left me little time and energy to do other things that are important and meaningful to me. I came across Dr. Fork's podcast; The Doctor's Crossing Carpe Diem Podcast, it is such an informative and enjoyable podcast for any physician who wants to do more with their career and life in general. Then I had the pleasure to get career coaching from Heather, it was truly an amazing experience. Heather has broad knowledge of all the different career paths that are available for physicians, she is so insightful and very easy to talk to. She helped me clarify my goals, examine my own mindset and definition of success. Together we developed a clear plan and actionable steps to reach these goals. I eventually made a career transition to a remote non-clinical position that allows me to do meaningful work which aligns with my personal and professional goals and priorities. 

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I am deeply grateful that I can continue my work in the emergency department and serve my community as a physician as well as a coach. Working with Heather was a transformative gift that enabled me to rediscover my true self, find clarity in my life's purpose, and unlock my full potential. Through her guidance, I not only reignited the powerful, confident, and bold version of myself I had lost sight of but also realized the boundless possibilities that lay ahead.

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