The Research Interview

Networking, Networking, Networking… you know this is the mantra of practicing physicians searching for their transition to a nonclinical career. But, how do you network? Certainly, you speak with people you know, you attend conferences and other events centered on the business or industry you want to enter, and you seek out thought leaders in those industries. That last one can seem like the most difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. In a previous article I wrote about the Informational Interview and I referenced a variation of that as the Research Interview.

A research interview is just that… you are interviewing a knowledgeable person, likely an industry leader in order to 1) produce a research document or 2) a monograph on a particular topic. Whether you decide on statistical research or more of an opinion piece is up to you and may be better determined by the industry and career focus you have selected. For example, as ACO’s grow and expand as major players in the healthcare market, you might envision yourself as an ACO CEO. In that case developing an article on the pros and cons, values and challenges of physician leadership in the ACO environment, could be an easy pitch to many healthcare magazines as well as a very plausible pitch to a health system CEO tasked with the challenge of starting or running an ACO in his/her system. However, if you wanted to work more at the operational levels of an ACO, you might want to construct a statistical research approach centering on what is perceived as the best ACO specialty composition, what types of savings organizations anticipate via the ACO model, population management objectives and other elements lending themselves to a quantifiable metric.

The catch, so to speak, is that you actually need to have identified, if not confirmed avenues for publication and use of what you produce. That too, is an easy pitch to just about any physician or healthcare publication. You just call, have an outline of what you plan to produce and ask if they would be interested in reading/reviewing for publication once you finish.

Now, back to process. In either case, you have the basis for a very thorough discussion with a leader in the industry you want to enter. But, better yet, you have a reason to speak with them again, and perhaps again and again. And, beyond that, not only requesting, but expecting to have them refer you to others in their organization or in complimentary organizations is a given. After all, you are conducting research and you need to speak with many people to establish a credible piece of work.

That will take you through production, so to speak. However, at each juncture, each interview, your last question is, “would you like to see the results when I’m finished?” Expect an affirmative response and inform them that you would be happy to not only provide them with your finished material, but you’d be happy to present it to their team and others as they may request. Now, you’re the expert. Stop and consider… as you first walked through that executive’s door, you were the unknown, seeking information, and hoping to expand your knowledge. When you walk through that same door with your finished work, you are now the expert, there to educate and inform – positioning yourself as someone they may want on their team.  Good job!