Walk through any bookstore and you’ll come across an aisle brimming with books to make you smarter, more financially secure, and let go of any co-dependency or psychological hang-up you might be bearing. These "self-help" books are big sellers, and it’s commendable that so many people are interested in improving themselves.
Similarly, the articles in this issue of Unique Opportunities provide the tools to make any physician more appealing as a job candidate.
What do you do when your CV doesn’t reflect how truly exceptional you are? Susan Meyers discusses the many reasons why some physicians actually outshine their resumes: gaps in employment caused by illness, taking longer than the usual time to complete medical school or residency, any civil or criminal record that will show up on a background check. Handled properly - that is upfront and honestly - recruiters say that none of these things are automatic deal-breakers. What sinks a candidate is nasty surprises. If you have any rocky spots in your CV that you need to be prepared to address so potential employers can see past those blips to your true talent, then Susan Meyers’ article "But I’m Better Than That," is a must-read for you.
Therese Karsten, who has worked in the physician recruitment industry for 21 years, outlines how much wider doors will open when you have great references versus lukewarm recommendations. Be aware, however, that there is not only an etiquette to follow in requesting references, but a process that gives you the best chance for ensuring your references make you irresistible to the practice you seek to join. See "Will You Do Me the Honor?"
Finally, if you want to improve yourself from both an employability standpoint and in the eyes of some of your patients, learn to speak their language. Census data tells the story: between 2000 and 2007, the percentage of residents who speak a language other than English rose at double-digit rates. Not only does speaking the same language as patients improve the accuracy of communication and help establish a more therapeutic relationship, it’s good business - one that can be marketed in areas with large numbers of residents who speak Spanish, Italian, Arabic, etc. Marcia Layton Turner interviews several physicians in the story, "The Benefits of Being Bilingual." Didn’t take Spanish in high school or college? Not to worry - many medical schools are now offering medical Spanish, and other options such as combinations of self-guided study and immersion courses, will get you to competency in almost any language you choose.
Certainly, none of us is yet the best or the most we can be. Wherever your search for professional self-improvement takes you, I hope you’ll take us along for the ride.
- Mollie Vento Hudson, Editor