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When to start the physician job search

Read PracticeLink articles by Megan Trippi
Megan Trippi

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Like many education and career paths, you may have followed a timeline to apply for undergraduate school, medical school, residency and fellowship. When looking for your practice, there is also a timeline, and it’s important to know when to start your search.

According to the first step of First Practice, you should start casually looking at job openings 12 to 24 months before your projected practice start date. This will help you get a feel for the market in your specialty and desired location.

Starting that far in advance also gives you enough time to prepare yourself; get a better idea of what you want; and consider all your options, providing ample time to apply for jobs, work with recruiters and interview. Ideally, you will have your first role out of residency secure at least six months before you complete formal training, but you may have different timelines based on your situation:

U.S. medical school graduates and primary care physicians

If you attended a U.S. medical school or are practicing primary care, you should plan to have a job set by January or February of your graduation year.

Not in primary care or international medical graduates

IMGs and those outside primary care will want to have their position secured no later than December of the year before graduation.

On a visa

If you require support or time to work on your visa, you will want to have a job confirmed by October 1 of the year prior to graduation.

Even though you are starting your search two years to a year before your desired start date, you don’t want to begin the interview process too early. Interviewing requires time away from your program, and your availability could be further in the future than the prospective employer would like.

On the other hand, recruiters don’t like when you start the job hunt too late. When you wait, you can miss opportunities with employers. If your colleagues follow the above timelines, they have already been looking at jobs, interviewing and possibly receiving offers, giving you fewer options to consider.

Specialized searches and specific location requirements might require you to start even sooner so you have time to find the right fit for you. Beginning your job search up to 24 months before the end of residency or training lets you know what’s available and how to prepare for the interview process.


For more information and advice on your job search, visit or contact our Physician Relations Team at

Read PracticeLink articles by Megan Trippi

Megan Trippi

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