Dr. Jonathan Lee's physician job search
Dr. Jonathan Lee's physician job search

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Physician profile: Jonathan Lee, M.D.

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Private practice at the Oregon Ear, Nose and Throat Center in Medford and Ashland, Ore.


RESIDENCY: Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education, Rochester, Minn.



Lee and his wife, Denison, have a 3-year-old daughter, Elsa. He enjoys whitewater boating, Telemark skiing and playing guitar.

What’s your advice for residents who are beginning their physician job search?

Prioritize your search criteria and be thorough. If location is your highest priority, for example, look for ads in that locale, but also pull the names of doctors and practices in those areas that aren’t advertising and send them letters of inquiry and a CV. Talk to faculty and alumni of your residency
program to find positions they have heard about through the grapevine.

What surprised you about your first post-residency job?

The best leads I found came from “cold calls” to practices that hadn’t necessarily started to advertise or recruit for a new position. In many cases, they had only informally entertained the idea of adding a new partner, and they were willing to explore the idea further only after I called.

What do you wish they had taught in med school but didn’t?

Medical school and residency can prepare you with the knowledge needed to do your job, but they have a much smaller impact on how you do your job. Softer skills like the ability to communicate clearly, show compassion, feel empathy, and stay organized are primarily developed outside of medical school.

I used to work as a whitewater rafting guide, and I learned more about communication doing that than I ever learned in medical school. In practice, most patients will assume you’ve had good medical training. How well they respond to you and how much they trust you, though, will depend primarily on how well you synthesize those softer skills with your medical knowledge.

Anything particularly unique about your job search?

The decision about which practice I wanted to join was ultimately mine, but my wife was completely involved as well. To start our search, I opened a map and asked her to pick out 10 places she would want to live. We started with that, cross-referenced it with my list of desired locations and practice characteristics, and worked forward from there.

Any other advice for the physician job search?

Pick great partners who are open and willing to share their experiences because they are some of your best resources in both practice and business. I discuss cases with my partners every day, and I have learned 80 percent of what I know about the business of medicine from them as well.

There are so many different types of practice models that medical schools couldn’t usefully teach you everything you need to know about how each one operates. Your partners, however, can tell you a lot about how the business side of your particular practice works.



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