Can you think of a person in your life—or perhaps several—without whom you wouldn’t be where you are today? Someone who encouraged you in residency, pushed you in medical school, or told you years ago that you had what it took? Maybe it was a family member, a friend or a mentor.
In the same way that other people helped you get to your current state, the best way to make it to your future goals—whether that’s your first practice or the next point in your career—is by enlisting the help of others. Think of yourself as building a job-search team: Which people should you draft?
Everyone’s team will look different to some extent—it will vary according to your personal contacts and the professional networking you have already begun. But for many, the most important job-search teammates include your residency mentors and colleagues, in-house recruiters, your realtor, your spouse and local physicians.
Let’s take a look at how each of these players contributes to your physician job search.
1. Mentors and colleagues from training
Your colleagues and mentors from residency and fellowship are well-suited to join your job-search team because they have already been with you in the trenches. They know your interests, they know the field, and they can connect with you all of their own personal connections.
To start, make sure you’re taking advantage of any job-search training or prep that your program already offers, and try to facilitate conversations with colleagues and program directors about your post-residency job-search plans.
During his family medicine residency at Baptist Health in Madisonville, Kentucky, Zeeshan Javaid, M.D., gleaned a lot of advice from both program leaders and colleagues. His program director held one-hour directive sessions every month, covering topics like how to search for jobs, what to look for in a contract, how to determine where you wanted to live and how to interview. The program director also provided information about opening your own practice, including its pros and cons.
Similarly, Allen Kamrava, M.D., a colorectal surgeon in Beverly Hills, California, received support from his fellowship program during his first job search. Though Kamrava now works in solo practice, the chairman of his fellowship department at the University of Pennsylvania made a great effort to help Kamrava find a job early on by speaking on his behalf to find out who was hiring.
“To have someone with his stature speak on my behalf was important, and he helped me find my first position with a wonderful recommendation after completing one year of fellowship training,” says Kamrava.
Residency and fellowship colleagues are also some of your best potential job-search teammates because they are often job-seeking at the same time as you.
“Although it sounds like it’s competition, it’s not,” says Kamrava. “Others may know about opportunities through their searches that can help you and [may be able to] put you in touch with a job they didn’t take.
Javaid, too, received support from his colleagues. Six of his fellow residents were conducting job searches at the same time he was. They all shared their information and experiences so that others could see what kind of offers were coming in.
His friends in urgent care also provided good advice, even discussing what types of stipulations and financial offers were in their contracts. “We would discuss overtime and moonlighting policies at the hospital [or] clinic,” he says. “Some places don’t offer moonlighting . . . [and] if it’s not in your contract, you can’t modify it.”
2. In-house recruiters
Another important member of your job-search team is the in-house recruiter for any position you’re interested in. In-house recruiters, also known as staff physician recruiters, are employed directly by hiring organizations to fill physician opportunities. (They differ from third-party staffing agencies or headhunters in this regard.) Nearly every physician job in the country is represented by an in-house recruiter.
There are multiple ways to get in touch with these recruiters. One quick way is to fill out a profile on PracticeLink.com. This way, in-house recruiters can contact you directly, and you can reach out directly to them by using the contact information on any job posting, or applying through the site.
Another way to get in touch is through the PracticeLink Employer Directory. (Access it by clicking “View All Employers by State” on the PracticeLink.com homepage.) From there, you can click to any employer’s PracticeLink page and find an in-house recruiter’s contact information. (You can also see which specialties that employer is seeking.)
Even if a recruiter isn’t hiring for your specialty, you can ask if they can put you in contact with someone who is. In-house recruiters, networkers by nature, are often aware of the opportunities of other recruiters and can connect you with excellent job leads.
Once you find an opportunity you’re interested in, the in-house recruiter for that organization will be one of your best allies. He or she will be responsible for communicating with you, providing abundant information about the opportunity, and even lining up interviews and site visits if you progress in the hiring process.
Make the most of your relationship with in-house recruiters by asking as many questions as possible.
“Unfortunately, some physicians hoping to find a job that matches their objectives don’t ask the right questions, which leads to an unhappy and wrong placement,” says Rhonda B. Creger, DASPR, manager of physician recruitment for Genesis HealthCare System in Zanesville, Ohio. “They don’t ask important questions such as: ‘Is there enough clinical staff to support me?’ ‘How often will I receive feedback?’ ‘Is this a growth position, or is this job available because a physician left?’ ‘What can you tell me about the community?’
“Often physicians don’t understand how important it is to understand the practice support system in place to help the candidate achieve satisfaction in the placement,” she says.
Javaid, who is now practicing at Novant Health UVA Health System Urgent Care and Occupational Medicine in Centreville, Virginia, has had two jobs since he graduated from residency and used PracticeLink to find both of them.
After completing his profile and searching for jobs, he started receiving calls from in-house recruiters. Kirsten Quinlan, physician recruiter for Novant Health, helped him lock down his current job.
“She gave me important information about the company,” says Javaid. “The hospitals were nearby and had a good reputation among other hospitals and clinics in the area. She told me how the company was growing and made an offer that was more attractive than other offers I was receiving.” As an added bonus, the hospital was located near his mother and brothers in an area he wanted to live in.
3. A realtor
Though an in-house recruiter can help you nail down the right opportunity, any physician who is relocating for a job will also need a teammate to help him or her secure the right home. For this reason, a realtor makes a strong addition to your job-search team.
Some hospitals even have working relationships with realtors. Creger, for instance, works with Tamara Porter, a realtor with McCollister & Associates, also in Zanesville. For the past 10 years, Porter has been called upon to help physicians and spouses feel Zanesville is a great place to live and put down roots. After all, it is important for a physician not only to like the hospital but also to feel comfortable in the community.
“It is important to find out what is important to the couple and the type of dwelling they want,” Porter says. “Some want to rent, while others want to buy a home. If they don’t have children, I need to find out what they like to do for hobbies. If they do have children, it’s important to find the right school district for them, as well as the activities they want for their children,” she says. Your realtor will be well-equipped to answer your relocation questions and help you determine if a community is right for you.
4. Your spouse
Your assessment of a community isn’t the only one that matters, however. Your spouse will likely be committing to make any move that you do, after all. For this reason, he or she is also an indispensable member of your job-search team and can be a great help in evaluating potential communities and neighborhoods.
“My wife wanted a large city that had good restaurants, and she had to be close to family. That would be important to her, especially when we had a baby,” says Javaid. “Because I spend most of my time on the job, she is meeting the neighbors and becoming part of the community.”
Chan Badger, M.D., a family medicine physician, and his wife Jenny lived in the mountains of North Carolina before they relocated to Greensboro for him to take a job with Novant Health. He’d decided he wanted better work-life balance than his last job afforded, a practice where he wasn’t on call 24 hours a day.
“I never thought we’d relocate till an opportunity presented itself with Novant,” says Jenny. “Because our two children are involved in activities and school functions, my husband wanted to be able to watch them participate. He felt the job opportunity in Greensboro, North Carolina, would allow him to spend more time with his family.” Since both parents were the product of public education, they also wanted excellent public schools and to put down roots in their new community.
Ken Dunham, M.D., a psychiatrist with Novant Health in Winston -Salem, North Carolina, echoes this sentiment. As part of his job search, he had to find out what was important to his wife. “Looking at every job opportunity, I had to rate the pros and cons of schools for the children, how far away would we be from the family and what specific geographic region my wife wanted to live in,” says Dunham.
5. Local physicians
In addition to looking for a community that would please his wife, Dunham carefully analyzed each potential job opportunity. Once he knew there would be a job interview, Dunham called the practice administrator to get more information. “I would ask them about the position, how it is supported, turnovers, staffing questions and financial questions,” he says.
In addition to his own investigation, Dunham depended upon references from other physicians in the area. These physicians could tell him their thoughts if they knew the medical group.
“Most of us are connected online in some way such as through Facebook,” he says. “They could tell me that I shouldn’t work there, especially if their information didn’t match what the practice administrator said.”
In Dunham’s opinion, it is also important to speak with every physician in the practice you’re considering—whether on the phone, in person or both. Being prevented from speaking with any physician could be a red flag. He advises physicians to ask questions such as “How happy are you with the practice?” “Do you feel you can trust the administration?” “How long have you been here?” and “Is this a growth position?”
If the opportunity is a replacement of a previous physician, find out why that physician left. You should be able to get your questions answered in 30 minutes to an hour with each physician.
If this is a health care system position, talk with one of the executives—the CEO, president or vice president—to get a feel for the system. Questions could include: “What are the challenges?” “Where do you see the practice heading?”
Dunham was extremely careful as he narrowed down his job opportunities to two or three potential positions. He also checked the contract to make sure what was said during the interview process had actually translated to paper.
Javaid, too, spoke with higher-ups in Novant before he committed to the job. In particular, the Northern Virginia physician leader for Novant Health UVA played an important role in the process. Javaid spoke with him three times and met him twice before accepting the job offer. “Besides being helpful, he was easy to reach,” Javaid says. After he started in the role, their relationship continued. “He truly was informative and truthful about everything I asked.”
That connection Javaid made with a colleague has continued to benefit him in his current role, and you may have the same experience. The connections you foster in your job search may help you land more than just your next practice—they may continue to benefit you in your career for years to come.