Physician salaries can be impressive. But MDs also can carry remarkable debt after so many years of training.

Before making the leap from a well-paying clinical career into a nonclinical position, MDs need to lay out a clear financial plan that takes into account new income expectations and realities.

“Work out a plan and then start putting the plan in place before leaving your income producing career completely,” advises Dr. Bob Uslander, a 20-year emergency physician and founder of Doctors On Purpose, an organization that works with physicians on career satisfaction. “Things take time to develop, so have patience. Don’t put too much financial pressure on yourself, or else you’ll find yourself in a state of desperation where decisions are not well considered.”

And while the pressures from family and society to stay on the traditional path earning a solid doctor salary can be tremendous, for many MDs wanting to transition to that “something else,” it comes down to money, plain and simple.

MD pay is hard to beat

“Honestly, the only real pressures I’ve felt have been financial,” says Dr. Uslander. “I have an obligation to provide for my family, which I take very seriously, of course. Fortunately, my family has never had outrageous needs, so we’ve had a bit more flexibility than some other doctors I know. My wife has been incredibly supportive in allowing me to explore my interests and search for the ways to contribute that feel authentic to me.”

According to numbers from the Medical Group Management Association’s Physician Compensation and Production Survey, family practitioners made on average $189,402 in 2010, while specialties like radiology drew a median compensation of about $471,253 per year. Keep in mind that physician salaries vary by a host of factors such as geographic region, experience, and hours worked.

Top nonclinical salaries for MDs to consider

What can doctors expect to earn when they leave the clinic life behind them? AllHealthcare takes a look at health careers that are designated as nonclinical and ranks the Top 10 in terms of salary. These are jobs that merge physician’s medical knowledge with business acumen.

AllHealthcare’s Top 10 Highest Paying Nonclinical Careers:

1. Healthcare Administrator
2. Health Educator
3. Medical Social Worker
4. Mental Health Counselor
5. Medical Equipment Preparer
6. Athletic Trainer
7. Rehabilitation Counselor
8. Medical Records and Health Information Technician
9. Medical Secretary
10. Medical Transcriptionist

And while it’s hard to pin down numbers, as KevinMD reports, you can find some figures at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are some of the top nonclinical average salaries for physicians:

Healthcare executive, $137,800
Medical software executive, $220,980
Hospital chief executives, $189,440
Hospital operations managers, $111,150

Read more on nonclinical physician careers:

Back: Jobs doctors can transition into

More: Nonclinical careers offer MDs rewarding options

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More: Nonclinical career changes

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