Physician at a desk, looking at a computer with a checklist
Physician at a desk, looking at a computer with a checklist

5 steps for navigating site visits

Jackie Farley

Table of Contents

You may have reached the point in your physician job search where you are being invited on and going on site visits. Before you start packing, spend time organizing a plan and follow these steps when navigating site visits:

Step one: Define your main element

What is the most important factor when looking for your new job? If you want to relocate closer to family and friends, location would be most important. Or, if you are more concerned about working in a specific area of medicine than a specific area of the country, then your main priority is your specialty. Perhaps finding a job that offers a good work/life balance is your biggest consideration.

Step two: Decide on a ‘short list’

Once you’ve decided on what is most important to your physician job search, it’s time to decide how many site visits you’re willing – and want – to make.

While it’s exciting to be invited to spend a day or two with a potential employer, it can also be stressful and tiring to take the time off if you’re a resident or fellow. So, you may want to narrow down your options, especially if travel is involved.

How long your short list is will likely depend on your goals and what you have decided to prioritize. Ask key questions so you have an idea about things like group size, call sharing, administrative duties and management structure. By the end of the second interview, compensation should have been addressed as well, which can often be a deciding factor.

According to Robert Dolansky, D.O., MBA, family medicine physician and chief of urgent care and occupational medicine at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Allentown, Pennsylvania, “by the time you are asked to visit, you should already have had both a phone interview with a recruiter and some type of video interview. Salary and compensation typically should be brought up by the end of the second one.” If not, he recommends asking for at least a general idea before planning the site visit. “If it’s not in the range that you know you need, there’s no sense proceeding.”

If there appear to be red flags in any of these areas in the first or second interview, a site visit may not be beneficial for you or the hiring organization.

Step three: Do some homework

Evaluate how much you know about the job. Make sure you are aware of the organization’s needs and expectations and find out what their mission statement is.

Newton Wiggins, M.D., a cardiologist with The Chattanooga Heart Institute at Memorial in Tennessee and chair-elect of the Early Career Professional Council of the American College of Cardiology said, “I think the number-one thing you want to understand is the job expectations. What is the employer looking for? And is that something you’re interested in doing?”

Once you’ve established that, consider what assets you can bring to the organization and be prepared to talk about any special skills you have to offer.

It helps to who you’ll meet, including their titles and what their job entails. Don’t be afraid to read their bios. This not only helps you speak with them knowledgeably, but it will also help you know to whom to direct your questions to get the most accurate answers.

Step four: Dress for the job you want

When you arrive on site, be sure you look as professional as you sound. Wear business attire for the site visit and pack something appropriate to wear to an upscale restaurant unless the recruiter advises you otherwise. If the recruiter specifies you will be attending a different type of event and you are unsure of what to wear, it’s OK to ask. A good rule of thumb is to be overdressed, but NOT underdressed.

Step five: Do some interviewing of your own

You know you can expect your potential employers to be assessing your behavior during your visit. They may ask you how you would handle different situations or scenarios to get a better sense of your personality and how you would fit into the current dynamic. But keep in mind you are interviewing them as well.

This is the time to ask about the details such as equipment, resources, clinic operations, workflow, support staff, educational materials, CMA scheduling and the EMR system. Ask about open and recently vacated positions because that could be a potential indicator of hidden issues.

Try to observe the interactions between the staff and see if you can get a sense of the work culture. You want to learn as much as you can so you have a good idea of the ins and outs of the job.

Jennifer Hauler, D.O., MBA,  a family and emergency medicine physician and chief operating officer of Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio has a little trick to get an accurate read on an organization’s culture. “Anybody can be a visitor walking into a hospital, right? So maybe you show up a few minutes early or stay a few minutes after the interview. Walk down to the cafeteria and have a bottle of water or sit in the main lobby and watch people passing by. There are public spaces where you can get a feel for some things.

At the end of your site visit, you may find that some of the most important questions you ask may be the ones you ask yourself. Do the employees seem comfortable with one another? Do they seem stressed or relaxed? How do they work together as a team? And, possibly the most important question of all: Is this organization a place I can thrive in?


For more tips on site visits and resources on your physician job search, visit


Jackie Farley

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