Physician Job Search Tips: Six Red Flags To Watch Out For During the Interview

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Dr. T shook the hospital administrator’s hand at the end of the interview. It went well, she thought. She spoke eloquently, gave thorough answers, and asked good questions too. However, something felt off. Her interviewer revealed that the opening was a result of a physician departure – after only six months in the job.

She’d been assured the situation was unusual, however, when she asked about the longest-tenured physician in the department, her interviewer had appeared almost embarrassed to admit the most senior member had been there just three years. It was a little concerning, and yet, the location and compensation were exactly what she was hoping for coming out of residency. And, the people she met spoke positively about the organization, giving her the impression that she would fit well with the organizational culture. Still, she said thank you once more and left the office, trying to shake off the nagging feeling in her stomach.

Should Dr. T take the job? Possibly. After all, what is a red flag to one candidate may look like an opportunity to another. However, if she’s working with a good physician recruitment firm, her recruiter will advise her to explore that nagging feeling. Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for the turnover in the department, but she should seek to find out more through a series of open-ended questions before accepting an offer and signing a contract.

Most assume the high demand for physicians gives them the upper hand in the physician job market, and in some circumstances, it does. However, all too often, physicians excitedly accept positions without taking time to fully understand the red flags indicating the position may not be an ideal fit for their unique professional and personal goals.

As a result, approximately half of physicians coming out of residency spend less than five years in their first job, and half of those walk away in just two years. These physicians either change their minds about what they wanted, find themselves in a job that didn’t turn out as expected, or simply realize that they aren’t a match with the culture. While the former scenario is tougher to plan for, the latter two can often be avoided if physician candidates pay attention to the following red flags during the physician interview process.

1. High Turnover

If no one in the department or at the practice has been in the job for more than a few years, you need to find out why. High turnover may be a sign of a less-than-ideal work environment possibly due to weaknesses in the culture, little work-life balance, or a poor compensation model. Ask questions of other physicians in the group. Be direct about your desire to understand the limited tenure. Perhaps the productivity model was restructured in a way that benefited newer physicians, and the older physicians chose to leave rather than adapt. Maybe the environment in the department was toxic, and the newer physicians are a result of hospital leadership hitting the reset button. There could be several reasonable explanations for the limited tenure. Ask enough questions to fully understand.

2. Negativity

How do the interviewers talk about other physicians in the group? What is their tone when referring to office support staff and the patient population? While every practice or department will have its issues, if your interviewer overtly complains about colleagues or discusses challenges in a way that places the blame on other physicians (past or current), you should take pause.

3. Productivity Imbalances

For most physicians, some part of their compensation is based on productivity, so what does productivity look like in the practice or group you are considering? Dr. Eve Shvidler, writing for KevinMD, says that if one or two physicians stand out as top producers in a large practice, it could be a sign that new patients and referrals aren’t distributed fairly.

4. Insufficient Technology

Does the group own or have access to the latest technology? The American Medical Association emphasizes the importance of technology in measuring and improving quality and cost performance. From Electronic Medical Record systems to telehealth tech to IT support, if your employer cannot provide access, it could be that much harder for you to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

5. Unclear Terms

Whatever the issue at hand – from on-call coverage to partner buy-in terms to the non-compete clause – if the terms in the contract are unclear (or not addressed), you should be concerned that the gray area does not benefit you. Keep asking questions until you have a clear understanding of the contract. A reputable physician recruitment firm can assist you.

6. Vague Answers

Many of the red flags we’ve listed here aren’t necessarily signs to stop the process altogether, however, they do indicate that you should ask more questions. In some cases, there will be extenuating circumstances to consider or some other explanation you can accept. However, if your questions are consistently passed over, or you receive vague answers, it may be time to pursue other opportunities that more closely align with your goals.

While some of these red flags are more obvious than others, in most cases, physicians will sense something is off, even if they can’t pinpoint exactly which “flag” it is. In our opening scenario, Dr. T knew the answers she received regarding department turnover weren’t ideal, but instead of exploring the issue with others in the department, she waived away the feeling of uncertainty and focused on the positives.

However, if she was working with a good physician recruitment firm, her recruiter would make sure she had all the facts before making a decision. One of the most important objectives of a physician recruiter is to facilitate a long-term, cultural match between a candidate and an employer, so recruiters will be eager to help you find the right fit.

A physician recruiter can make all the difference in your physician job search. Top physician recruitment firms like Jackson Physician Search not only have access to physician jobs nationwide, but they also have inside information on the employers they work with, so they can help you find answers while guiding you through the physician interview process. Contact us today or search open physician jobs now.

The Right Recruiter Can Make Your Physician Job Search Stress-Free

Partnering with a well-respected and well-connected physician recruiter can increase your exposure and guide you through the entire process…

Completing Your Medical Residency in 2022? It’s Time to Start Your Physician Job Search.

While we hope you celebrate your upcoming completion of medical residency, now is the time to start your physician job search…

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Completing Your Medical Residency in 2022? It’s Time to Start Your Physician Job Search.

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Disney’s iconic 1987 Super Bowl campaign, “What are you going to do next? I’m going to Disney World!” is forever etched into pop culture. It represents a well-deserved celebration of victory that could only come after a lifetime of hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice. While your training as a physician is obviously different than that of a pro-football player, there’s no doubt it required the same level of dedication, talent, and heart. And, while we hope you can celebrate your upcoming completion of medical residency with a getaway, now is the time to start your physician job search.

The Physician Job Market is Bright

MGMA recently asked healthcare administrators about their plans to hire for new physician positions in 2021. An overwhelming 72% confirmed that they do, in fact, plan to hire. Of those, the specialties that are most in-demand include: Family Medicine, OB/GYN, Orthopedics, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics. Considering how the pandemic affected the physician job market over the past year, this is welcomed news for residents starting their first job search.

Another factor contributing to a bustling job market includes the projected wave of upcoming physician retirements, including those that were expedited by the pandemic. The AAMC noted last year that more than two out of five physicians are approaching age 65 within the next decade and will soon leave their profession behind. With the strain of the pandemic, MGMA also polled healthcare practices to learn how many had experienced an unexpected retirement this past year. Results showed that 28% reported losing a doctor to an unplanned retirement, with nearly half of those related to the pandemic. Retirements are creating additional vacancies that residents will have access to.

Late in 2020, Jackson Physician Search surveyed physicians and found 54% said COVID-19 changed their employment plans. Of those, more than half are seriously considering leaving their current employer for another. In addition to physician burnout and low engagement contributing to this potential increase in physician turnover, some have discovered that their job didn’t turn out to be what they imagined.

Avoid the Curse of the First Job

Estimates show that more than half of new physicians leave their first job within five years, and more than half of that group walk away within two years. Those who wait to start their job search too often find that the best positions go quickly, and they’re left to accept jobs that aren’t the right clinical or cultural fit for them.

Getting ahead of the physician job search curve will position you to secure a fulfilling practice opportunity, one where you fit, will succeed, and will want to stay. Ideally, you should start your search 12 (or more) months before your training is complete. It may seem like an eternity, but this timeline is typical:

  • Months 1-3: Review the overwhelming information available, talk to recruiters, network with colleagues and mentors, apply to jobs, and settle on a handful of opportunities and locations to explore.
  • Months 4-5: Participate in on-site physician interviews and possible second interviews to meet the hiring physician, prospective colleagues, practice or hospital administrators, and human resources staff. Take ample time to conduct a community tour as well.
  • Months 6-8: Receive, consider, and negotiate offer letters and preliminary contracts. Whether it’s a large health system with layers of bureaucracy, or a small practice with fewer resources to keep the process moving, it can take considerable time to finalize the employment contract.
  • Months 9-12+: Several months are often required to get through the licensing and credentialing process. This timeline varies widely depending on the state, hiring entity, and practice site, but it’s not uncommon to push back a start date because of holdups in licensing and credentialing. If you’re relocating for your position, you’ll need time to move as well.

Friendly Reminder: This Isn’t Real Estate and Location Isn’t Everything

One common mistake that newly trained doctors make is to focus their job search on a particular location. Interestingly, more than 55% of residents practice medicine in the same state in which they completed their training according to the AAMC. In some cases, physicians insist on a certain location to be near family and the community where they grew up, rather than focusing on finding the practice setting and culture that offers the best fit.

That narrow of an approach could force you into a job you don’t love. We surveyed physicians and found that when “location” was the top priority in their first job search, they were more likely to leave within five years than those applicants who had chosen “quality” as the top priority. And, who knows? A rural practice opportunity could be the perfect fit for you.

Finding Physician Jobs

In our digital world, there are a myriad of tools available to help you find job opportunities for which you’d like to apply. Let’s explore.

Leverage Social Media

  • Doximity – If you only passively use physician-centric sites like Doximity, it is time to increase your activity. Reach out to colleagues and ask them to provide recommendations. Take advantage of everything that is available on the site, including the careers section and job board.
  • LinkedIn – While not dedicated to physicians, LinkedIn is a site for professionals, including executives, administrators, and others who can aid in your job search. There are also more than 2,000+ “groups” dedicated to physicians and various medical specialties. Find a few that relate to your specialty and start making connections. Many positions are also posted on LinkedIn, so be sure to check the job board.

Visit Online Job Boards

Make it a habit to check online job boards for the latest postings and set up alerts to be notified when something relevant is posted, including:

Network, Network, Network

  • Update your social media pages and post relevant content frequently.
  • Join your medical association chapters at the state and local level and attend networking events and conferences.
  • Subscribe to industry trade journals and take advantage of publishing opportunities.
  • Watch for networking and social events hosted by hospitals and healthcare organizations.
  • Attend career fairs sponsored by associations and healthcare systems.
  • Inform your personal and professional network that you are actively searching, as an unlikely connection is often the key to a new opportunity.

The Right Recruiter Can Make Your Physician Job Search Stress-Free

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Know the Three P’s of Preparing for a Successful Physician Job Search

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Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

The Right Recruiter Can Make Your Physician Job Search Stress-Free

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The results of our recent Physician Retention Survey show that 54% of physicians are planning to make an employment change due to COVID-19. Of those, 50% are considering leaving their current employer to work for another. Whether they’re looking to advance their career, relocate to a new part of the country, want to make more money, or are simply unhappy in their current role, they face the daunting task of launching a physician job search. If this sounds like you, partnering with a well-respected and well-connected physician recruiter can increase your exposure and guide you through the entire process.

Recognizing a Great Physician Recruiter

Finding a trusted recruitment partner can take much of the stress out of a job search for you and your family, but how do you distinguish between a good one and a great one? For starters, great physician recruiters will take the time to build a relationship with you, so that they can accurately represent you with employers while also looking out for your best interests. They’ll want to have a phone conversation with you to find out what you’re specifically looking for in your next job opportunity, including your career goals, location preferences, and personal and professional interests. They’ll also be concerned with meeting the needs of your family and will encourage you to engage them in the process.

Once there’s interest in a position, top-notch physician recruiters will help you prepare for the interview, assist the organization in customizing the community tour, and even guide you through the job offer process. Having the right ally on your side can make all the difference in finding a role and a community that is a long-term fit for you and your family.

What Each Kind of Recruiter Can Do for You

Understanding the differences between the various types of recruiters can help you set realistic expectations. Healthcare administrators and physician recruiters have been diligent in trying to navigate the physician shortage, so you are likely receiving numerous job opportunities every month. How do you distinguish who’s who?

In-house Recruiters

In-house recruiters only represent the facility or healthcare system where they work. Because of this, they have extensive knowledge about the practice setting and the medical community. One potential drawback is that they are recruiting for a specific employer and will not be able to help you consider other practice opportunities.

Retained Recruiters

Hospitals, healthcare systems, and medical practices often engage a retained recruitment firm like Jackson Physician Search to help fill a physician vacancy. Depending on the size of the firm, these recruiters will have access to a wide range of practice opportunities – in multiple specialties – across the nation. These recruiters often visit the facility and have extensive knowledge about the culture, position, and the community. A retained firm adds the extra benefit of being able to help you consider opportunities from multiple facilities, and they’ll stay with you throughout the entire process.

Contingent Recruiters

Contingent recruiters, depending on size, also have access to multiple opportunities. However, they don’t usually visit the facility or the community, putting them at a disadvantage in terms of the inside knowledge they can share with candidates. They also typically don’t stay involved in the interview or contract process.

8 Benefits of Working with a Retained Physician Recruiter

Physicians often favor retained recruiters because of the personal relationships they develop and the wide array of job opportunities they have available. Here are the biggest advantages such a recruiter can offer you:

  1. Nationwide Reach. No matter where you’d like to practice, a recruitment partner can open up doors to opportunities across town or across the country.
  2. Candid Feedback. A physician recruiter can help you set realistic expectations for your job search, such as how well suited you are for a particular position and what you can do to increase your chances of landing an interview and receiving an offer.
  3. Market Dynamics. Recruiters have a pulse on the market and can tell you how competitive it is based on specialty and region, information that can help you set realistic expectations and empower you during negotiations.
  4. Income Expectations. Who doesn’t want to maximize their compensation? Fortunately, recruiters have access to a variety of compensation data sources, making them an excellent resource.
  5. “Insider” Information. Recruiters often have access to information that is rarely mentioned in a job ad, such as patient populations and local provider competition. They also know how long the position has been vacant, how many candidates are interviewing, when the employer plans to make a hiring decision – details that can help candidates assess how much weight to put on one opportunity over another.
  6. Access to Unadvertised Jobs. A recruitment professional will already have established relationships with administrators and in-house recruiters. They may even know about job opportunities before they’ve been made public.
  7. Interview Tips to Make a Great First Impression. Matchmakers by nature, recruiters aim to facilitate a long-term fit between physicians and healthcare organizations. They will often help you prepare for each phase of the interview process, so that you make a winning first impression.
  8. Help Navigating a Job Offer. When you receive a job offer, recruiters can you navigate this phase of the job search process, so that you can successfully negotiate the best contract possible.

Communication is Key

There’s no doubt that physician recruiters can save you an immense amount of time and effort when you’re evaluating potential job opportunities. But the only way they can ensure the jobs presented to you are a great fit for you and your family is if you’re both on the same page. Be transparent with your recruiter every step of the way. If you have reservations about a position, ask questions – they’re a safe resource.

The physician job search process can feel time-consuming and slow at times, but like most things that truly matter in life, you’ll get as much out of it as you’re willing to put in. Though it can be a challenge to commit the time, the benefits are well worth it—and may pay handsomely for many years to come.

Whether it’s your first job or the last before you retire, it will be something you’ll always remember, so it’s important to make sure it’s the right one for you. We’re here to help. As a national leader in physician recruitment, our expert recruiters will be with you every step of the way. We’re recruiting for hundreds of positions, across all specialties. Search open physician jobs now.

A Checklist to Getting the Most from a Physician Recruiter

  • Establish Trust. Be open and honest with recruiters, as it ensures they understand your requirements.
  • Be Responsive. Your recruiter is working hard to find you the best opportunity, so it is important to stay in touch and respond promptly. Respectful communication is key. Remember, employers are likely to get their first impression of you from the physician recruiter. Also, be prepared to act fast if the right job comes along.
  • Use Recruiters as a Resource. When you are working with an experienced recruiter, they will have access to information that can help you make informed decisions about your career path. Never hesitate to ask tough questions about the work environment or reasons for a vacancy.
  • Commit to Your Search. Always respectfully consider opportunities that are presented to you. Never use a new job offer as a bargaining chip with your current employer.
  • Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin by Working with Multiple Firms. Choose recruitment firms that have a large number of jobs for which they’re recruiting and isolate your job search to them. They’ll be in the best position to help you find a position that meets all your needs.
  • Tell Physician Recruiters if You’ve Taken Another Job. If you’re no longer considering new opportunities, be sure to send a short email or call any physician recruiters with whom you’re working so they don’t present your candidacy.

 

[Infographic Guide] Four Steps to Advance Your Physician Career

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Know the Three P’s of Preparing for a Successful Physician Job Search

Launching a search for a new position is an exciting time for physicians. Before you get started, keep reading to learn the three P’s of preparing for a successful job search…

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

Know the Three P’s of Preparing for a Successful Physician Job Search

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Launching a search for a new position is an exciting time for physicians. If you’re just completing your residency or fellowship training and this is your first physician job search, it’s a pivotal moment in your new career. And, even if you’re a more experienced physician, brushing up on your job searching skills can only help you to secure a position that best meets your career and lifestyle goals. Before you get started on your search, keep reading to learn the three P’s of preparing for a successful job search.

1. Priorities: Make Time to Define Them

Your Role

Before initiating your job search, it is important to have the end goal in sight. Knowing your priorities allows you to identify roles that offer you the best opportunity to reach your professional goals. Ask yourself:

  • Do I want to stay long-term in a patient-facing role?
  • Do I want to pursue a leadership position?
  • Do I envision starting my own practice?
  • Do I want to join a medical group or hospital as an employed physician?
  • Does teaching the next generation of physicians in an academic center sound appealing?
  • Do I strive to become a physician-researcher working on clinical research trials?

Family and Lifestyle

Deciding where to practice is a family affair. Often, physicians’ spouses or partners have a fulfilling career, making it important to consider their professional opportunities in various cities and towns. Education and proximity to family members is also a very important aspect for most physicians, especially those who have young families.

Do you have a hobby or passion that is more accessible in certain parts of the country? If you’re an avid skier, living near the mountains will likely suit you best. If long walks on the beach sound more like your style, then consider positions along America’s coasts. The moral of the story is before setting out on your job search journey, dig a little deeper into what matters the most to you and your family. But do try to consider a wide variety of locations. After all, there are hidden gems all over the U.S.

Urban Versus Rural

Another factor to consider is whether you see yourself in an urban or rural environment. Are you tired of being embroiled in the daily struggle of dealing with traffic, noise, crowds, and a higher cost of living? While there are many benefits to practicing in larger cities, there are just as many in rural areas.

Choosing to plant roots in a smaller community may make it easier to develop a more manageable work/life balance. Getting outside the hustle and bustle can also provide ample opportunities for relaxing, exploring nature, hiking, camping, and fishing just to name a few.

Success Story: Physician Finds Her “Why” in Rural Healthcare

2. Professional Network: Tap Into This Invaluable Resource

When you decide it is time to explore new career options, it is wise to include others in the process. Having a professional network is important, and for physicians, resources can be found in many places.

For starters, you are probably already a member of Doximity, the physician-centric social network that boasts over 80% of U.S. doctors as verified members. If you choose to become a member of a social networking site, like Doximity or even LinkedIn, you’ll want to get the most benefit from it. Actively participating in groups that relate to your interests or specialty is a sure way to quickly build up a network of colleagues who may be able to help you in a job search.

College professors, mentors, program directors, and others can contribute to your efforts in finding a new career opportunity. However, remember that networking is a two-way street, and you should be prepared to answer the call when one of your contacts is in a similar situation.

3. Position Your Digital Brand

Your physician brand is how you market yourself to potential employers and how you are perceived by colleagues, industry partners, and even patients.  When defining who you are as a doctor, think about all of these “customers” and how your unique attributes could appeal to each group.

Start with a brand self-assessment. Note things you are passionate about, such as family, hobbies, charities, and causes. You also want to identify the attributes and accomplishments that set you apart from others in your specialty. Think about patient engagement, leadership skills, communication and collaboration skills, and memberships and associations.

Once your brand is defined, you have to sell it. Just as patients go online to find a new doctor, it’s wise for you to focus on building your digital brand. If you are on Doximity and LinkedIn, consider creating a blog and publishing timely articles about your specialty.

Be strategic, however, as your profile for these different sites should not paint two contrasting pictures of the same person. Any online activities should serve to clearly support your physician brand. Another effective idea is to create a YouTube channel and post short, visual snippets demonstrating your skills, interests, and abilities. Video is a great medium to highlight your personality, which directly translates to your “bedside manner.”

Preparing for Success: Checklist

Priorities

Professional Network

  • Reach out to a mentor or trusted colleague for advice.
  • Think about who you know that can help you get a foot in the door.
  • Identify physician recruitment firms and visit their job boards.
  • Attend physician career fairs and connect with recruiters.

Position Your Digital Brand

  • Reflect on the things that shape you and that you are most passionate about. Consider this.
  • The results of your self-assessment are the components of your brand.
  • Work on your digital footprint. Post a blog article or video to show off your personality and skills.

If you are a new physician or find you’re ready for a new job opportunity, Jackson Physician Search has an experienced team of recruitment professionals who can help you find the practice setting that is right for you. Contact us today and learn about the difference we can make in your job search. You can also search jobs now.

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Jackson Physician Search Helped a Physician Find Fulfillment in Rural Healthcare

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A Hematologist, Dr. B, was working in academia at a university in Ohio. Between the clinic and the classroom, her schedule was packed. The time she did spend at home with her young children was often spent writing or reviewing papers. She was regularly published in medical journals and was on track for a full professorship, but at what cost to her family? At what cost to her mental health?

It wasn’t only her young children that caused Dr. B’s search for a better balance. Her parents, who lived in Pittsburgh, visited often, but their ability to make multiple trips each year would diminish with age. And what would happen when they eventually needed her help? How could she care for them while living so far away?

All of this was on Dr. B’s mind when she saw an email about a physician job opening from Senior Director of Recruiting Sally Ann Patton. The Medical Director opportunity appealed to Dr. B’s need for challenge and growth, and the location was ideal in proximity to her parents.

The Pursuit of Work-life Balance

Dr. B reached out to Sally Ann, who immediately recognized that Dr. B. was more than qualified. However, Sally Ann wondered if this highly lauded physician from the world of academia was serious about a position with a rural hospital. While the “Medical Director” title carried some prestige, there would be no publications or accolades in the role. The focus would be largely clinical. While there would be some management responsibilities and the potential to serve as a mentor, would this be enough to satisfy a physician like Dr. B?

Although Sally Ann had some initial reservations, the more she learned about Dr. B’s present situation and her desire for a better quality of life, the more Sally Ann began to see how it might work out to be the perfect fit.

Negotiating the Physician Contract

During the on-site interview and community tour, the hospital leadership and staff adored Dr. B and did their best to make her feel at home. She enjoyed her visit, and after spending a few days in the community, seeing several neighborhoods and schools, she began to picture a life there.

Imagining herself in the job was one thing, signing a physician contract was another. Dr. B pushed back on the facility’s first offer, and Sally Ann and her contact at the facility went back and forth on several rounds of negotiations. In the meantime, the hospital was acquired by a nearby university system. This complicated the contract’s progress, but Sally Ann thought the facility’s new ties to an academic institution would make the job even more appealing to Dr. B.

As contract negotiations continued, the hospital’s medical director officially resigned, making leadership at the facility even more motivated to come to an agreement. Dr. B’s motivation was intensifying as well. That fall, her mom suffered a health scare, shining a light on one of the primary reasons Dr. B wanted to relocate – to be available for her parents.

Identify the “Why” and Keep Coming Back to It

The story demonstrates the importance of understanding the reason “why” a physician candidate is considering a switch to rural medicine. Is it the slower pace of life? Leadership opportunities? More meaningful work?

Dr. B’s reasons were clear from that first conversation with Sally Ann. However, she needed reminders along the way. “I just kept bringing her back to her why,” Sally Ann explains. “When the logistics seemed complicated or the contract still wasn’t right, I’d say, ‘Remember why you are doing this. For your kids. For your parents. For your peace of mind.’ She needed to focus on that to keep moving forward.”

A Win-win for the Community, and Dr. B

Throughout the process, Sally Ann was never entirely sure it would work out, until one day in late December, it finally did. “In the end, she got nearly everything she asked for,” explains Sally Ann. “She is earning far more than they initially offered, and with the new ties to an academic institution, she could easily get back on track for a professorship, if that’s what she eventually wants.”

With the contract signed by all parties, Sally Ann felt tremendous satisfaction. “It was an especially fulfilling placement for me,” she said. “The community desperately needs good physicians, and now, they are getting one of the best.”

“It’s just like it says in our mission,” Sally Ann continues, “We strive ‘to improve the lives of everyone we touch,’ and I really felt that with this placement. Not only will Dr. B’s life improve, but she will have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in that community.”

If you are looking for a better work/life balance or are ready to take the next step in your physician career, our team of recruitment experts is here to help. Get started now and search our 500+ physician job openings.

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Five Mistakes to Avoid During Your Next Physician Contract Negotiation

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In the first installment of our three-part series on physician contracts, we outlined six of the components that make up an employment agreement. In the second installment, we highlighted aspects that are often negotiable and shared pro tips for doing it successfully. In this final installment, we will discuss five mistakes that physicians can quite easily avoid during a physician contract negotiation.

Mistake #1: Fly Solo

Your physician contract will probably contain more foreign words than the Histology text you learned in medical school. To be prepared for your contract negotiation, don’t fly solo. Rather, seek experienced counsel. While it is advisable to consult a lawyer with experience in the healthcare industry, at a minimum, have a physician mentor or an experienced colleague help walk you through the details.

Mistake #2: Not Knowing What is Most Important to You

What is most important to you is going to be different from that of other physicians who are negotiating and signing their employment contracts. The key is to have already determined which aspects of your agreement will have the greatest impact on your happiness. Even though it seems counter-intuitive to a newer physician who is saddled with enormous student loan debt, try not to make salary the most important factor. Other clauses might carry more weight in ensuring your success. Each clause of the contract has a role in advancing your career goals, well-being, and lifestyle. When you make it all about salary, you end up ignoring or discounting other things that matter in the long run.

Mistake #3: Ignore the Details

Don’t fall into the trap of ignoring or glossing over even the simplest of contractual clauses. For example, they want you to start on a specific date after ending your current commitment. So, everything works, right? Maybe. But what if you need a few extra days to pack up your things, tie up loose ends, and move 380 miles to the new place? Make sure your start date works for what you have to accomplish before starting the new role. You may even want to build in a little time for a family vacation. Another seemingly simple clause that can trip you up is the duration of the contract. Does it automatically renew year over year, or is it a fixed length? Some contracts may be written to be indefinite, which can cost you money if it isn’t revisited at some point.

Mistake #4: Gloss Over Job Expectations

You are being hired to be an XYZ physician. It’s not more complicated than that, right? If that is your mindset, it might get you into trouble. Your employment contract should clearly spell out your areas of responsibility. The language should expressly state your clinical expectations and the non-clinical expectations, such as medical records, phone calls, and administrative tasks. You should also understand what is expected of you in terms of training others, serving on boards, and even participating in research. Avoid agreeing to responsibilities that are described with vague statements, such as “will perform other duties as assigned.”

Mistake #5: Assume You Will Never Resign

For the millions of people who have read and now practice Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the second habit speaks to envisioning the results of what you hope to achieve. When negotiating a physician contract, the end is just as important as everything in the middle. Unfortunately, it is mistakenly overlooked by many physicians. For example, when starting a new job, you aren’t naturally inclined to think about termination clauses. But, detailing how much notice you have to provide your employer before leaving, or they, before terminating you, should be considered. As a newly employed physician, you should have protections in place regarding the amount of notice you will receive before being terminated without cause. Other clauses that get overlooked concern how you may be impacted if the organization merges or is acquired by new ownership. In some cases, your contract continues uninterrupted under the new structure, but in others, it is terminated upon an ownership change. This scenario results in you having to find new employment or negotiating a new contract.  None of this is meant to throw cold water on the excitement of a new job but is common enough to warrant your attention.

Negotiating your next physician contract is a microcosm of your whole career. A successful negotiation and career require honest, open, and transparent communication. The foundation of any strong working relationship is your ability to communicate, and it all starts with your contract negotiation. As long as you are prepared and have a trusted confidant, this process should be smooth and stress-free. Having a positive experience will lay the groundwork for a long and productive career.

If you are a new physician or find you’re ready for a new job opportunity, Jackson Physician Search has an experienced team of recruitment professionals who can help you find the practice setting that is right for you. Contact us today and learn about the difference we can make in your job search.

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Physician Contracts: Always Negotiate These Six Parts

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Physician Contracts: Always Negotiate These Six Parts

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In the first installment of our three-part series on physician contracts, we outlined six of the components that make up an employment agreement. For this article, we will highlight things that are negotiable and share tips for doing it successfully. The final installment will shed light on common mistakes to avoid.

If you are a new physician, the most important thing you should know about your physician contract is that it is negotiable. Even if it is your very first contract, you should not accept it “as is” without asking clarifying questions or improving it to better suit your needs.

What Parts of a Physician Contract are Negotiable?

Let’s begin by outlining which aspects of a physician contract are typically negotiable. Caveat: Due to specific rules and policies, some healthcare organizations are unable to negotiate certain clauses within your agreement.

1. Bonuses

One thing that surprises most young physicians is the variety of bonuses that can be included in the employment agreement. And the good news is that most of them are negotiable. If you are going to be moving across the state or even across the country for this new job, it is logical to seek some form of relocation bonus. Another popular bonus that may or may not be included is a signing bonus. In a competitive market, you may be offered a bonus just for signing on the dotted line.

Pro tip: There is usually fine print attached to bonuses. Identify and understand any clauses that require you to pay back monies if you leave within a specific time frame.

2. On-call Hours

New physicians are pre-conditioned to expect that they will be saddled with the least desirable schedule, and terms that require you to work weekends and holidays. On-call terms can quickly become the difference between loving your job and hating it if there is no equity in how the most junior physicians are scheduled. While it is normal to expect weekend and holiday hours, there is no reason for you to be the only one working them. Call schedules are typically negotiable so only agree to something that seems fair and shares the burden.

Pro tip: Make sure the on-call schedule is clearly defined. Never agree to nebulous clauses that state “hours specified by employer” or you may find yourself working every weekend and holiday for the duration of your contract.

3. Benefits

If this is your first-ever contract, standard benefits may not be as important to you as they will be after having a few years under your belt. But they should be. Consider that things such as health insurance, vacation time, professional development time, termination clauses, and a host of other benefits are important at all stages of your career. These “so-called” standard benefits are typically all negotiable, so if anything is missing or lacking, you know who is to blame.

Pro tip: Figure out which benefits are the most important to you prior to entering any contract negotiations. If you have an idea of what you are looking for, you can be prepared to ask for it.

4. Path to Advance

Career advancement clauses can vary depending on the practice setting, but it is something even new physicians should consider. If you are joining a practice, it would be helpful to understand how they view your path to partnership. While they may be hesitant to spell it out for a new physician, at a minimum, you should clearly understand what is required to earn partnership status and how to get there.

Pro tip: This is one of the more tricky aspects of contract negotiations. Your employer may be hesitant to provide concrete language. Still, you should never agree to open-ended language that does not contain some aspect of enforceable, achievable direction.

5. Non-compete Clauses

When you first join an organization, the last thing you are thinking about is what happens when you leave. Depending on the state, contracts can contain a clause that prohibits you from practicing for a competitor within a certain distance and timeframe. Typical non-compete clauses are two years and a distance of 20 miles.

Pro tip: In large metros, a twenty-mile non-compete radius may result in a 90-minute commute to and from the office every day. Consider negotiating a shorter distance by adding a year to the term.

6. Tail Insurance

Another aspect of a contract that new physicians overlook because it deals with leaving a practice, is malpractice tail insurance. This type of malpractice insurance covers you against any claim that arises after you have left a position.

Pro tip: Tail insurance is easy to overlook on your first contract, don’t. Tail insurance can be very expensive if you try and purchase it on your own and may end up causing you to stay in a place where you are unhappy.

If you are a physician who is starting out or ready for a new opportunity, Jackson Physician Search has an experienced team of recruitment professionals who can help you find the practice setting that is right for you. Contact us today and learn about the difference we can make in your job search.

 

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Receive a Job Offer? Focus on These Six Aspects of the Physician Contract

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It is always exciting to receive a new job offer as a physician. It is also the time when you are presented with the all-important physician contract. To help you navigate and understand your physician contract, we are publishing a three-part series on the subject. This first installment will provide you with an overview of the components included within a typical physician contract. The second installment will alert you to the process of negotiating an agreement, and the third installment will shed light on common mistakes to avoid.

Because you went to medical school—not law school—you may wish to have a lawyer review the employment contract before you sign on the dotted line. Especially during the early years of your career, it is vital to ensure your interests are protected.

Components of a Physician Contract

All of the clauses included in the physician contract presented to you are there for a reason. Most employers have developed a “standard” contract that they use as a base for the initial offer to you. Let’s review.

1. Salary

If you are being honest with yourself, you will probably admit that salary is the first thing you think about when considering your physician contract. While important, it is not the only factor that you need to consider. But, since it is on top of your mind, we will review it first.

Your salary can include many variables, some of which is predicated on your specialty and geographic location. It can be a straight salary or a combination of performance and productivity-based incentives, and even mathematical formulas called Relative Value Units. RVUs account for your time, skill-level, effort, and other factors in providing a medical service to the patient. The various methods of deriving a physician’s salary all have their pros and cons, so it is essential to do your homework. When looking at the salary listed in your employment contract, make sure it is clearly outlined.

2. Benefits

One of the factors contributing to the overall value of your physician contract is the benefits package. This will include the obvious things like your vacation time, but also others that are not so obvious. Your benefits should describe whether or not your employer is providing malpractice and liability insurance, continuing education programs, relocation funds, and even time to pursue research opportunities. Depending on your family situation, understanding your health benefits package and whether they are offering retirement fund matching is critical. For many physicians, as they move on in their career, employment benefits often become a more important part of their contract than base salary.

3.  Term Length and Termination

Obviously, it is important to know when the contract starts, but more importantly, the length of the agreement. A typical time frame will be three years, but that varies depending on the practice setting and location. Some contracts, called evergreens, remain open-ended and are automatically renewed year after year. Within the term length clause, there should be language that describes mechanisms for terminating the agreement. Particularly, “termination for cause” should be articulated so you understand what reasons or occurrences would lead to a potential termination.

4. Covenants

While the contractual language that outlines restrictive covenants won’t be found in fine print, it will likely be spelled out in language that may be difficult to understand. Hence, this section is one you definitely want your attorney to review. Restrictive covenants typically spell out the terms that apply when or if you leave your position. This language may include non-compete clauses that restrict you from practicing in the same geographic location for a period of time. Going into a new job opportunity, when both sides are feeling positive about this new relationship, these types of clauses may seem unnecessary. But as we mentioned earlier, everything in your contract is there for a reason. The key is to understand the length of time the clause remains active, specific distances, and other factors that will impact what you can and can’t do without having to relocate.

5. Bonuses

Bonuses are typically included as part of your compensation language. But since they come in such great variety, they deserve to be considered independently. Bonuses that are available for you to earn or be given up front should be clearly identified in your contract. An extremely popular recruitment tool has been student loan forgiveness bonuses. These typically come with strings attached, such as staying in your position for a number of years. Similar to student loan forgiveness, because of the high cost of physician vacancies, many contracts now include retention bonuses to entice a physician to stay in a position for a pre-determined time. Other bonuses, such as those based on achieving quality targets, require you to clearly understand what is expected of you to earn them.

6. Career Advancement Opportunities

Depending on the practice setting or your specialty, your employment contract may spell out opportunities for you to advance your career or even gain ownership rights upon the completion of your initial term of employment. If you are interested in pursuing physician leadership opportunities, your contract may include language that helps you move in that direction. Typically, this will require achieving specific criteria over the life of your contract.

In our next installment, we will discuss how to negotiate your physician contract. Jackson Physician Search has decades of recruitment experience and offers a calculator on physician compensation. For personalized information about what we can do for your career, contact us today.

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Physician Retirement: 6 Considerations Before You Hang Up Your White Coat

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Are you ready to retire from your career as a physician, or is it on the horizon? Before you hang up your white coat for good, there are some important considerations that deserve attention.

While more than two of five physicians are projected to be on the cusp of retirement in the next 10 years according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the added strain of COVID-19 has some physicians considering an early retirement. Whether you’ve expedited your physician retirement timeline or not, let’s review the six things you should do to prepare for a smooth transition.

1. Is Burnout Driving Your Physician Retirement Timeline?

If so, you’re not alone. A recent Medscape survey uncovered that 42% of physicians report being burned out. Many of these doctors whose long-term stress has led to emotional and physical exhaustion, lack of professional fulfillment, and dwindling feelings of accomplishment are seriously considering leaving medicine altogether. Of those who responded to the survey, 55% said they were overwhelmed with too many bureaucratic tasks and working excessively long hours. If burnout is behind your decision to retire now versus later, consider approaching your healthcare administration about working fewer hours. Jackson Physician Search conducted a survey on retirement and found that nearly 28% of physicians planned to work part-time or elsewhere upon retiring from their current position. Your current employer may entertain other options including a part-time schedule or taking on telemedicine hours.

2. What Will You Do with All Your Newfound Free Time?

The pandemic has many physicians working the volume of hours that resemble the old days of residency. But even prior to the pandemic, doctors worked an average of 50 or more hours per week. When you’re used to that kind of pace, suddenly having all of that time at your disposal can be a bit unsettling. Make a plan for developing new hobbies and other interests, network with physicians who are also making the transition, or consider ways in which you would enjoy giving back to the medical field.

3. Is Your Financial House in Order?

Prior to 2020, you were probably ecstatic with your retirement account’s financial performance and the unprecedented market gains we were experiencing. Now, like many of us, those financial gains likely took a noticeable hit. Many physicians subscribe to a financial plan called FIRE or Financial Independence, Retire Early. Working toward FIRE means that you have a plan to leverage your high demand, high salary career toward the ability to retire when you want. Even if you haven’t subscribed to the principles of FIRE, it is important to discuss your options with a financial advisor.

4. Will You Maintain Your License to Practice Medicine?

Even if you plan to fully retire, you should still consider maintaining your medical license. While it varies by state, allowing your license to lapse can take up to six months or more to renew if the need arises. During the early days of the pandemic, some physicians felt called to come out of retirement to help. Since the future can be so wildly unpredictable, many physicians plan to keep their license and board certifications active for up to five years.

5. Have You Reviewed the Legal Considerations of Retirement?

Unlike some occupations where a person retires after a long productive career and can generally walk away unencumbered, that’s often not the case for physicians. Here are a few that you should address early:

Employment Contracts. In most cases, you will have an employment contract that contains stipulations about leaving the hospital or practice. Review the agreements or consult your lawyer to ensure you understand all aspects of your pending retirement.

Patient Records. Depending on your particular practice setting, how you handle patient records will vary. If you own your own practice and plan to shut it down entirely, you should consult your state medical board regarding records retention and accessibility of patient information. In other settings, the records question can usually be handled by your employer.

Notifications. Multiple notifications need to occur, including your patients, state licensing board, professional associations, and employer. We will cover employer notifications in more detail below, but the others are also worthy of consideration.

  • Patient notification – While it is likely that your state will have specific requirements, providing your patients with at least a 60-day notification is often standard. Where practical, and with higher-risk patients, notification by certified mail with a return receipt is the safest course of action.
  • State licensing board – Before retirement, it is vital that physicians contact the state licensing board, state medical society, and the American Medical Association. Depending on the state, you may be able to maintain an active license with certain restrictions at a reduced cost.
  • Professional associations – Over the years, you have likely participated in various professional associations, specialty boards, and other types of medical societies. Each organization has different policies, but it is a good practice to reach out to them with notification.

6. When Will You Notify Your Employer?

This can be a tricky area for physicians who want to provide plenty of notice but are unsure how much is necessary. In the aforementioned Jackson Physician Search retirement survey, 80% of physician respondents stated that it was their responsibility to initiate the retirement discussion with their employer. The caveat is that only 52% of them feel comfortable discussing the subject with their administrators. On the other side, 37% of administrators thought it was their responsibility to initiate retirement discussions, but 74% said they were very comfortable having that conversation. Depending on your specialty, it can take up to a year to fill a physician vacancy. That may shed some light on why 50% of administrators responded that the ideal notification timeframe is one to three years, while 40% of physicians stated that six months or less was sufficient.

Retirement is a highly personal decision and rarely an easy one to make. After a long and successful career, you deserve a smooth transition that allows you to pursue new goals and interests. As you prepare, here’s a helpful physician retirement checklist made available by TheDoctorsCompany.

If you’re interested in alternative practice arrangements, click here to review jobs for which we are currently recruiting. Some offer part-time schedules. Or, visit www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com to connect with a recruiter.

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The Five Most Important Components of Your Physician CV

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Whether you are actively seeking a new physician job opportunity or simply keeping your eyes open if the right one comes along, never under-estimate the importance of your physician CV or curriculum vitae. In fact, it may be the most important factor to get you out from the screening pile and into the initial phone interview.

Often, when an exciting job opportunity crops up unexpectedly, you are left scrambling to update your physician CV or physician resume. Don’t fall into that trap, because it may lead to sloppiness. Below are the essential components and tips to make sure your CV gets noticed.

The Five Most Critical Elements of Your Physician CV

Your CV serves as an introduction to who you are, how you got there, and what you have been doing. And, it should flow accordingly.

  1. Contact Information. At the top in big, bold letters, include your name, address, phone number, and email address. This information is important, so make sure it stands out from the page.
  2. Education and Qualifications. This section is where you highlight how you got to where you are today. Include your years of study and where it occurred. Start with the most recent and work backward chronologically. Include special qualifications or distinctions you may have earned during your studies.
  3. Employment History. Next, explain how you have been using your education. Include dates and relevant places of employment. Unless it directly ties to the job you are interested in, there is no need to mention your years as a server while you worked your way through medical school.
  4. Clinical Experience. Here, you will want to add the clinical experiences you have had. Include dates and locations, and briefly state the knowledge you have gained.
  5. Certifications and Licensure. This is an opportunity to share classes, workshops, and other continuing education that led to certification. Identify your licensure followed by any certifications earned in chronological order.

“I have often seen clients turn away candidates due to sloppy, inconsistent, and incomplete work on their CV. Address any significant gaps in training/work if appropriate, include relevant dates of employment, spell/grammar/format check, and keep it pertinent.” – Tara Osseck, Regional Vice President of Recruiting

Nice to Haves

Other sections you can add, include:

  • Honors and awards
  • Personal interests (as a means to provide insight into you as a person)
  • Published articles
  • Teaching experience

The Do’s and Don’ts

There are many potential pitfalls and potholes that can get in the way of landing your perfect physician job. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to your physician CV.

Always Do These Things

  • Be Grammatically Correct. Proofread your CV to make sure you catch any potential spelling or grammatical errors. Taking the time to create a clean, accurate CV shows a level of detail that is vital to being a successful physician. Having a friend or relative proof your CV is highly recommended.
  • Be Concise. Another common mistake is thinking that volume equals impressive. In many cases, the individual reviewing your CV will never make it past the third page. By keeping your information brief and relevant, you are maintaining the reader’s interest.
  • Be Yourself. Find ways to demonstrate your personality. When hiring, administrators are looking for qualified candidates who are also a good fit for their organizational culture. For example, sharing details about charitable work provides them with a glimpse of you, the person, not just the physician.

Avoid These Pitfalls

  • Each job opportunity is unique, which means your CV should not be a boilerplate for every position that shows up in your email. Avoid sending off the same CV for every physician vacancy. Instead, find ways to tailor your information to the position and remove information that isn’t relevant.
  • We have already mentioned brevity, and one way to do that is to avoid listing every single article you have ever published. While it is important to highlight your credentials, it is also possible to take it too far. A better idea is to create a personal web page with all of the details you want to share, and simply provide the link to that page. If the employer is interested, your page will be visited at the appropriate time.

Just like your eyes are the window to your soul, your CV is a window to you as a physician. Taking the time to keep your information current and accurate, while tailoring your experiences to the requirements of the job posting will go a long way to secure your place outside of the screening pile, or worse, the circular file.

Jackson Physician Search has a team of healthcare industry professionals who can help guide you toward finding the perfect job opportunity. Our physician recruitment team has a nationwide network and unique industry insights to help you discover your next career opportunity. Contact our team today and learn how we can make a difference in your career.

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