Interview Series: SEAK with James Mangraviti Jr., Esquire

I’m so happy to kick off this interview series with James Mangraviti Jr., a self-proclaimed “recovering lawyer” who is currently the principal of the expert witness program training at SEAK (Skills, Education, Achievement, Knowledge). Mr. Mangraviti has trained thousands of expert witnesses and has co-authored over 30 books on this topic. 

A little bit more about SEAK ( SEAK is an organization based out of Cape Cod, Massachusetts that is the leading provider of non-clinical careers and supplemental income for physicians. SEAK has trained over 20,000 doctors, lawyers, nurses, expert witnesses and other professionals. SEAK was one of the first sites I found and continue to follow for non-clinical careers. It is a goldmine of resources for physicians, clinical and non-clinical. In addition to expert witness training, SEAK also trains physicians on independent medical examinations, file reviews, writing, teaching, inventing, and consulting. 

You’re going to learn so much from this interview:

1. Tell me a little about yourself, your journey, and what you do?  

I help run SEAK, Inc. ( a boutique ACCME accredited continuing education firm.  We are dedicated to helping physicians supplement their income through part time gigs such as file reviews, expert witnessing, IMEs, consulting, life care planning and writing ( and also showing physicians the full time non-clinical opportunities available to them (  SEAK’s founder is Attorney Steve Babistky.  Both Steve and I are recovering lawyers who have found more fulfillment working in a non-traditional role as opposed to a law firm.  We want to help physicians achieve the work life balance and professional satisfaction that we are enjoying.

2. What was your motivation for creating the SEAK organization?  

Steve Babitsky (below) created SEAK in 1980 to help educate people and solve their problems.

 3. Why do you think more physicians are looking to transition into non-clinical roles?  

Many, many reasons.  Here are some of the top ones:  

  • Lifestyle – too much call, too many hours, too much family disruption
    • Burnout
    • Declining reimbursements, increased paperwork.     
  • Desire to make more money than clinical medicine
  • Not enjoying the practice of medicine
  • Bored with a job they have done for many years and which gets somewhat repetitive.
  • A physical disability that prevents practicing medicine
  • Ready to stop practicing medicine, but not ready to retire.

4. What do you see are the biggest challenges physicians face when transitioning into a nonclinical career? How can physicians avoid this?  

By far the biggest challenge in inertia.  

They want a change, but don’t take any concrete steps to make it happen.  

#2 is the misconception that “there is nothing out there.” What we teach at SEAK’s Non-Clinical Careers Conference is that the biggest challenge most physicians will face is deciding which of numerous possibilities to pursue.  

#3 is the misconception that they will have to move. Many of the careers discussed at SEAK’s Non-Clinical Careers Conference have positions that offer telecommuting.  

#4 is money. Most docs think they’ll lose their shirts if they give up the practice.  The reality is that non-clinical work often pays significantly more than clinical work, especially if calculated by the hour.

5. What are options for physicians who don’t go into residency and want to immediately enter a nonclinical career?  

Many and varied, although less than for practicing physicians.  Many of our faculty members have not completed their residencies.  One went on to become CEO of a huge well know biotech company. Possibilities include writing, consulting, coaching, pharma, and medical communications.

6. What are career options that are less well known that physicians can do?   

One of the things we teach at SEAK’s Annual Non-Clinical Careers conference is to NOT restrict your thinking to “traditional” non-clinical careers such as industry, administration and insurance.

There are doctors out there who are wildly successful in roles that really have little or nothing to do with medicine including politics (many doctors in Congress/Senate), novelists (Tess Gerritsen and many others), Sportscaster (Jerry Punch), Commentator (Charles Krauthammer), and Journalist (Bob Arnot, below)

7. We know that it won’t take overnight to transition into a new career, but realistically, how long should a physician plan for transitioning into a nonclinical career?  

It really depends.  Sometime it is quicker than overnight.  Each year we have many hundreds of physicians attend our Non-Clinical Careers.  

Some get jobs right there at the conference as we have recruiters in attendance.  Others transition over a period of months or years. It depends on who the doctor is and how motivated they are for a change.  Again, the biggest enemy to a successful transition is inertia. The more serious you take your transition the quicker it will go.

~End Interview~

Wow, I learned so much from Mr. Mangraviti and feel so grateful that he has shared his wisdom with me and everyone else.

The large overall message I got from this interview is DON’T RESTRICT YOURSELF! The annual Nonclinical Careers conference is coming up. Register for it ASAP because, there will be excellent learning and career opportunities available at the conference.

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