How many times have you seen an ad or direct mail piece for a physician conference at some far-off location and thought, "That would be a nice getaway." Or maybe you’ve seen conferences as an opportunity to obtain CME credits, increase your knowledge base and network with colleagues. But have you ever thought of a national conference as a possible gateway to a new life and new opportunities? You should, because many of your fellow physicians have already made this discovery.
If you are a physician looking for a change, attend conferences prepared to know what information to gather and which questions to ask as you make your way from booth to booth.
Depending on the conference you attend, you’ll most likely meet individuals representing large hospital companies, individual facilities, online career services, recruitment firms, and/or locum tenens organizations. Each of these groups can offer information and assistance in your search for an ideal job.
Savvy exhibitors with current openings will not only have general information about their organization and what they can provide but also specific information about available positions.
National conferences are large and tend to be fast-paced and busy, so be prepared to collect information relevant to your needs and expectations. By collecting information from the booths, you have the option to either return to your hotel room to absorb the content when you have more time or to review it once you have returned home.
Prepare a list of questions to ask representatives from each company. Asking a question not only allows you the opportunity to find a position that might be a perfect fit, but it also positions you as a more memorable candidate for the recruiter.
Though questions will differ from physician to physician, the advice remains the same: Make sure to have your questions written down, and don’t hesitate to take notes.
Your questions may range from work-related questions, such as "How many nights each month would I be expected to take call?" or "How fast do you think my practice will grow?" to questions regarding aspects outside the job, such as "What are the school systems like in the area?" or "What are some outside activities offered in and around the location?" The representatives at each booth are excited to talk with you and should have all this information and more to provide.
Even if the conference is in a resort setting, you still need to present yourself in a favorable professional light. This setting could potentially offer the first impression with someone who could offer you a unique career move, so it’s important to pay attention to your appearance.
The exhibitors are not expecting suits and ties - especially if the conference is in a tropical location. But they will take notice if your attire and overall appearance is less than neat. Face-to-face interaction and building relationships are important benefits of talking to recruiters and/or representatives at each meeting.
This might seem a little basic, but it’s also important to make sure you are comfortable and organized as you make the rounds, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and have some type of bag or satchel handy. Not only will you want to collect information from each booth, but you will also want to carry and hand out business cards and a CV or two. It’s not necessary to have your CV with you, but it never hurts to have one on hand for an opportunity that is particularly attractive.
This initial face-to-face meeting is an opportunity for the organization to make an impression on you, too.
Take note of how excited the recruiter is about his or her organization. If a recruiter isn’t passionate about the same things you are - things like patient care and commitment to quality - then the opportunity might not be right for you.
If you are really serious about searching for opportunities at a conference, check the pre-event materials provided to see if a career center will be available. These centers offer a single location to research the most up-to-date opportunities. Some centers even feature representatives from different companies who are available to speak in detail about their opportunities.
Following the event, be sure to follow up with those you met and who offered opportunities that interest you. Remember that even though physicians are in high demand, the opportunities you are interested in may be of interest to many others, as well. By following up and showing your interest, you can take the lead in securing that position.
If you don’t land that dream position at first, keep the lines of communication open. Let the recruiters know exactly what you are looking for. Eventually, the right fit will present itself.
National conferences could be a starting point in your quest for your dream job. And it doesn’t hurt that they are most often held in some of the top tourist spots in the world!
Margaret Lokey is a conference and media planner in the physician recruitment department of Community Health Systems Professional Services Corporation.
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