Brian Zachariah, MD recently discussed the many and varied non-clinical career opportunities available to physicians at medical boards. Dr. Zachariah will be speaking at the SEAK National Non Clinical Careers Conference to be held on October 25-26, 2014 in Chicago, IL.

Q. Dr. Zachariah, what do you like best about working in your current position?

Much like my clinical career in Emergency Medicine, I’m drawn to the endless variety in my current position as well. I deal with a wide variety of licensing, regulatory and policy issues. Unfortunately, the spectrum of physicians who violate the Medical Practice Act and thus face discipline is very wide as well. I also interface regularly with those who license physicians in other states and with those who license and regulate other professions in Illinois as well as with local, state and federal law enforcement officials, the media, elected officials, etc.

 Q. How do physicians working with medical boards make a positive impact on the lives of patients?

Like physicians in most administrative positions, those of us who are on or work with medical boards impact the lives of patients on a system-wide basis rather than one patient at a time. Our charge is to protect the public and we do that by defining and assuring quality care for the citizens in our state.

Q. What skill sets do physicians need to succeed in careers with medical boards?

Good communication skills are crucial. A large part of my job is explaining to the board members, many of whom are public members (i.e. non-physicians), why a given physician’s actions did or did not violate the Medical Practice Act. Research skills and the ability to educate oneself are important too as I have to keep up to date on new developments in medicine and evolving medical and legal standards. I often have to educate myself on a drug or procedure that was outside of my realm as an Emergency Physician so that I can explain it to the board members – both physicians and non-physicians. Finally a broad base of knowledge is very helpful too. My emergency medicine training helps there as I was exposed to a wide variety of clinical entities during my years in traditional practice. However, it also helps to be somewhat versed in hospital policies and procedures, law, business, politics and policy, etc.

Q. What are some of the most challenging issues physicians working with medical boards face?

One of the biggest challenges is understanding your role in the process. Many physicians are used to being in charge and even if they work in teams they are used to being the team captain. When they write an order in a patient’s chart it’s carried out. I advise, support and to some extent guide the medical board and the rest of our regulatory agency (at least in terms of medical issues) but it takes many different people working together to actually change a rule or discipline a physician. Even then we are limited by statute and rules as to what actions we can take and often limited by budgets and manpower as to how far and fast we can move. Whether board member or staff member no one physician can act alone; although together we can significantly improve the quality of healthcare delivery in our state.

Non-Clinical Opportunities for Physicians with Medical Boards

Brian Zachariah, MD, MBA

Dr. Zachariah will explain why it is important to be open-minded in your career search. He will discuss the many non-clinical opportunities for physicians in medical regulation including with medical boards, the office of inspector general, and  the attorney general etc. These positions include: executive director, CMO/medical director, part-time positions, consultants, and ad hoc positions. Dr. Zachariah will discuss the pay structure, hiring process, degrees/credentials, how to land your first position, and the keys to success at your non-clinical position.

Brian Zachariah, MD, MBA is the Chief Medical Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the state agency which licenses and regulates over 45,000 physicians and Physician Assistants in Illinois. Prior to assuming that position in 2011, Dr. Zachariah spent over twenty years in the clinical and administrative practice of Emergency Medicine including at some of the nation’s busiest and best known academic medical centers. He has authored over two dozen peer reviewed manuscripts and several book chapters and is a frequent speaker to both medical and lay audiences. Dr. Zachariah attended the 2009 SEAK Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians Conference.