Physician Retirement: What Leads Physicians to Retire Early Versus Late?

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For many physicians pondering retirement, age itself isn’t the number one driver of their desire to continue practicing medicine. Rather, they feel deeply drawn to care for their patients for as long as they’re willing and able, while others plan to reclaim those years “lost” to med school, residency, and fellowship by retiring as soon as possible to enjoy life. Whether or not you decide to retire early or retire late, the volume of physicians nearing this stage of life has never been higher.

According to a 2020 report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), 45% of practicing physicians are over 55. This means more than 2 of every 5 active physicians will be over 65 in the next decade. With 65 the reported median physician retirement age, this would suggest nearly half of all physicians who are currently practicing will be retired by 2030.  However, this may be a conservative estimate. According to a 2019 study published by AMA Insurance and highlighted by the American Medical Association, 30% of physicians retire between the ages of 60 and 65 and 12% retire before the age of 60. These looming retirements are one factor contributing to the much-discussed physician shortage.

You’ve heard it before, the aging Baby Boomer population combined with a significant percentage of physicians at or nearing retirement age amounts to an upcoming physician shortage of a magnitude for which no one has adequately planned. And now, COVID has introduced yet another factor likely worsening (or at least, speeding the arrival of) the shortage.

According to a 2021 Jackson Physician Search Whitepaper: On the Verge of a Physician Turnover Epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic has made half of today’s physicians reconsider their career plans. Of those, 21% of physicians are considering early retirement and another 15% are considering changing professions altogether. A March 2021 poll conducted by MGMA appears to confirm the trend. In the poll, 28% of healthcare administrators said a physician at their organization had unexpectedly retired in the past year.

The pandemic has certainly placed a strain on physicians, but it has only fanned the flames of an already significant physician burnout problem. Pre-COVID data found 44% of physicians experienced burnout, and more recent studies suggest the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. To what degree does burnout cause physicians to retire early? And what other factors contribute to early retirements? On the other hand, some physicians may have delayed retirement due to the pandemic – citing economic instability or logistical concerns. Others felt a heightened sense of obligation to their patients or to the broader community during these troubling times.

This article will explore the factors contributing to both early and late retirements and perhaps help you identify with which path you are aligned.

What Causes Physicians to Retire Early?

COVID-19

As noted above, stressful circumstances – such as a global pandemic – certainly contribute to physician retirement decisions. Beyond the stress and burnout caused by the pandemic, personal health concerns were also a common factor, especially for older physicians who were at a higher risk of severe illness and death from the new virus. In an October 2020 article, the Washington Post featured several physicians for whom this was the case. Whether driven by their own fears or the fears of loved ones, these physicians opted to retire rather than put themselves at risk.

Stress and Burnout

While these stories are not uncommon, it’s rare for a single event to evoke such a response. More often, it’s the ongoing stress experienced by physicians that drives them to retire early. In looking at the AAMC data on physician age by specialty, several of the specialties noted to have high levels of burnout, such as critical care and emergency medicine, have a lower percentage of physicians practicing over 55 (21% and 35%, respectively) compared to the average for all specialties (45%). So, one might conclude physicians working in high-stress fields are more likely to retire early.

Financial Readiness

Perhaps most importantly, physicians make retirement decisions based on their perceived financial preparedness for this next stage of life. Of course, as discussed in an article for Medical Economics, financial readiness is largely subjective – that is, the figure required to retire comfortably depends on the level of comfort one requires. Still, median physician salaries are considerably higher than the national median, so even after factoring in hefty student loan debt, some physicians will reach financial readiness at a younger age and may therefore opt to retire early.  Physicians in the highest-earning specialties may reach this stage even earlier.

Obligations

Being financially ready to retire doesn’t mean you have to retire or even want to retire. However, sometimes early retirement is forced upon you. Physicians may find themselves facing health challenges that force them into early retirement, or they may feel obliged to retire to care for a parent or spouse in poor health.

Future Plans

Some physicians retire from medicine early to pursue a “second act,” be it a new business venture, a teaching career, or non-profit work. Physicians are highly driven individuals, and once they achieve success in their given field, they may be drawn to pursue a new challenge. While the movement to achieve “financial independence and retire early” (FIRE) is not unique to physicians, it has received significant attention. An article for HCP Live outlines how the FIRE idea impacts different types of physicians.

Why Do Physicians Delay Retirement?

While there is much discussion about the impact of physicians retiring early, if the AMA Insurance report is correct, 58% of physicians will retire after 65. So, what causes physicians to extend their careers? At a high level, the answers look oddly familiar.

COVID-19

While some physicians took the pandemic as a reason to retire early, others saw it as a reason to put retirement plans on hold. Some felt a sense of obligation to patients in need, some worried about how economic instability would impact retirement funds, while others knew the logistics of selling a practice or recruiting their replacement would be next to impossible during a pandemic.

Stress

While high-stress physician jobs can certainly drive a physician into early retirement, the stress of retirement planning may cause some physicians to put off retirement indefinitely. This is especially true for physicians who own a practice and must address additional details of retirement planning such as selling their stake and transitioning long-term patients. Primary care physicians, who cultivate relationships with patients over the course of a lifetime, may find the concept of transitioning patients to a new provider particularly difficult.

Financial Readiness

The aforementioned Medical Economics article notes that while physicians’ affluence allows them to save more than the average working professional, many of them also spend more – and will likely continue to do so in retirement. Thus, the “magic number” that a physician feels he or she needs to save in order to retire comfortably will likely be relatively high, and depending on how much of their income they are able to save for retirement, it may take longer to achieve it.

Obligations

According to a systematic review of 65 retirement studies, published by Human Resources for Health, one of the primary reasons physicians delay retirement is out of concern for their patients. They may also feel a broader moral obligation to provide care to communities in crisis – either due to the global pandemic, a physician shortage, or other difficulties – leading many to work past retirement age or even come out of retirement to serve.

 Future Plans

The hardworking, high-achieving individuals who pursue physician careers don’t achieve their goals by sitting around and relaxing, and many physicians approaching retirement age have no desire to start now! They can’t imagine a future without work in some capacity. In fact, a 2019 retirement survey conducted by Jackson Physician Search, found nearly a third (28%) of respondents planned to continue working part-time post-retirement. Only 17% expected to take full retirement. As long as they are able, they will practice medicine.

Regardless of physicians’ reasons for retiring, the looming mass exodus could not come at a worse time. The most recent AAMC study on the physician shortage projects a deficit of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034. That shortage includes shortfalls of 17,800 to 48,000 primary care physicians and 21,000 to 77,100 specialists.

What does this mean for physicians approaching retirement? Are you morally obligated to keep working? Breathe easy. According to AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, the multi-pronged solution doesn’t rest on aging physicians, but rather, it starts with educating and training enough new physicians to meet the increasing demand, diversifying the physician workforce, and improving the nation’s preparedness for future public health crises.

That said, while the problem cannot be solved at an individual level, physicians who worry about boredom or losing their sense of purpose post-retirement may want to consider ways to continue to provide care in some capacity – via telemedicine or significantly scaled back hours – as long as they are willing and able. Your community will thank you. And to those who are ready to hang up the white coat for good, you too should be thanked for your service and wished well in retirement!

If you are approaching retirement and looking for a job opportunity that allows for more flexibility as you make the transition, a conversation with a Jackson Physician Search recruiter may be just what you need. Contact us today or search our open positions now.

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5 Signs It May Be Time to Look for a New Physician Job

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In a new whitepaper from Jackson Physician Search, multiple VPs of Recruitment report seeing an influx in candidates seeking new physician jobs. Some of these physicians report feeling let down by how their employers handled the early days of the pandemic, while for others, the pandemic heightened their need to be near family or to balance work with a personal life. The whitepaper explores the post-COVID physician job market in depth, but as a physician, you may be wondering, “Does this apply to me?” or “How do I know if it’s time to look for a new physician job?”

For many physicians, used to working hard and powering through challenging classes, tough rotations, and never-ending shifts, it can be hard to know if a difficult physician job is just another challenge that will get easier with time, or if perhaps, it’s time to look for a new physician job. It can be tough to know for certain, but there are several signs that indicate it’s time to move on. Keep reading to discover if anything listed here applies to you in your current physician job, and if so, it’s likely time to explore your options.

1. Stalled Goals

Physicians are known to be high achievers, and for many, the need to achieve doesn’t stop when they finally add the “MD” to their name. So, how are your professional goals progressing in your current role? Whether it’s developing a new skill, pursuing a relevant certification, or increasing your level of leadership responsibility in your practice, the goals you set for yourself shouldn’t be put on hold due to the demands of your physician job. If your current role does not allow the time and space you need to grow professionally, it may be time to consider other physician jobs.

2. Lack of Support

Physicians are heroes in their communities, but unlike comic book superheroes, they cannot do their work alone. Your physician job should come with a supportive boss and collaborative colleagues. Better yet, you should also have a mentor to regularly advise and encourage you as you pursue your goals and navigate your physician career. If you find yourself struggling to get through each day on your own, it’s time to look for physician jobs that provide more support.

3. Ongoing Burnout

A 2021 physician burnout survey by Medscape found happiness among physicians took an unsurprising plunge in 2020. Pre-pandemic, 69% of physicians said they were happy at work, but in the most recent survey, that figure shrank to 49%. When asked if they felt “burned out,” 42% of physician respondents said, “yes,” reporting the top causes of burnout as too many bureaucratic tasks, long hours, and lack of respect from admin, colleagues, or staff. The result? Physicians with low energy, feelings of negativity toward their employers, and apathy for patients. If this describes you, burnout may be the issue.

There’s a lot of talk about physician burnout and depression, though it’s important to note the difference between the two. According to the American Medical Association’s VP of Professional Satisfaction, Christine Sinksy, MD, depression is a medical condition, while burnout is a syndrome caused by external work circumstances. Changing physician jobs won’t cure clinical depression, but a new physician job can alleviate burnout.

4. Haunted by the Big Questions

Is this all there is? Am I living the life I’m meant to have? The COVID-19 pandemic had people of every profession rethinking how they spend their time, but physicians were uniquely impacted by the circumstances of 2020 and beyond. Whether you’re practicing on the front lines or via telemed, you may feel differently about your physician career than you did a year and a half ago.

A recent Jackson Physician Search White Paper explores the impact of COVID-19 on physician jobs. Through interviews with multiple physician recruiters, the report makes it apparent that physicians are shifting what they value in physician jobs. VP of Recruiting at Jackson Physician Search Carly Clem reports seeing an influx of candidates seeking physician jobs closer to where they grew up or in smaller towns with a slower pace of life. “We’re less likely to see candidates solely motivated by money,” Clem says. “Candidates have a little more perspective on what’s important.”

If you find yourself frequently asking, “Is this all there is?” or wondering if your current physician job is as good as it gets, it is time to explore your options.

5. Unsatisfactory Income

While the JPS White Paper indicates physicians care about much more than income, they still deserve to be paid what they are worth. Obviously, physician salaries vary based on specialty, location, and other factors, but if you compare your income to the latest physician compensation and find it lacking, you may find yourself feeling undervalued and resentful of your employer. Before you decide it’s time to move on, be sure to fairly evaluate apples to apples. Look at the structure of the physician compensation model as well as incentives and benefits. If, after a fair assessment, you still feel undervalued, it may be time to search for a physician job with a more competitive compensation model.

You didn’t become a physician by giving up at the first sign of difficulty, so it may go against your nature to admit your current physician job is not right for you. However, if you are experiencing the signs described here, it’s likely time to reevaluate your physician job options. An experienced recruiter from Jackson Physician Search is ready to help you identify physician jobs that match your needs. Or, download our new Physician Job Search Playbook where we outline everything you need to begin your next job search including the importance of working with physician recruiters.

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Physician Job Search Playbook

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Welcome to your physician job search. Whether this is your first job search or one of several during your career, the Physician Job Search Playbook offers a comprehensive, structured approach to ensure your next position meets your most important professional and personal priorities. Enclosed is everything you need to launch a successful search, including:

  • Preparing for Physician Job Search Success
  • Elements of a Great CV and Cover Letter
  • Working with Physician Recruiters
  • How to Conduct a Smart Job Search
  • Interviewing Best Practices
  • Maximizing the On-site Interview and Community Tour
  • Navigating the Job Offer
  • Conducting Your Own Due Diligence
  • Physician Contract Negotiations
  • Compensation Considerations

 

Jackson-Physician-Search-2021-job-search-playbook

 

Try Our Interactive Physician Salary Calculator

Today’s physician compensation models are like the healthcare industry: highly dynamic and increasingly complicated. Many doctors find it challenging to assess how the compensation package will align with their personal and professional priorities. Try our salary calculator to:

  • Easily access customized physician compensation data
  • Drill down by specialty, state, and type of location
  • Get instant results and have your report emailed to you

3 Ways JPS Recruiters Simplify Your Job Search

  • Nationwide Reach. We open doors to opportunities across town or across the country.
  • Insider Access. We have established relationships with administrators and in-house recruiters. We even know about job opportunities before they’ve been made public.
  • Save Time. We review your CV, prep you for interviews, and guide you through contract negotiation.

Parting Words of Wisdom from the Expert Recruiters at Jackson Physician Search:

  • Do your homework
  • Trust your heart
  • Include your family
  • Be a smart negotiator
  • All relationships take work
  • Every location has positives and negatives

The team of experienced physician recruiters at Jackson Physician Search wishes you the best on your physician job search journey and will be there with you every step of the way. If you’re ready to pursue a new physician job opportunity, reach out to Jackson Physician Search.

 

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Thriving in the First 90 Days: Seven Tips for Physician Job Success

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There is a lot at stake in the first 90 days of any new physician job. Not only are you taking on a new professional opportunity, but you’re also likely navigating a relocation. Uprooting your family to a new community can add a layer of stress to what otherwise is an exciting time in your physician career.

When your first day arrives, you’ll be introduced to a new workplace culture, a roster of patients, your leadership team, fellow physicians and providers, and more. To set yourself up for success in this fresh chapter of your personal and professional life, check out these seven tips every physician should put into practice in the first 90 days of a new role.

1. Maintain a Focus on Learning and Growth

Yes, you spent many years in medical school studying and working impossibly long hours throughout your residency, but you still have a great deal to learn. Approach this opportunity with the intention of absorbing as much information as possible by nurturing a growth mindset. Not only will you improve your physician skills, but you’re also more likely to experience increased motivation and a higher likelihood of enjoying your new job.

2. Develop Strategies to Help Manage Your Workload and Stave Off Feelings of Physician Burnout

Like any new job, you will be very busy in the first 90 days as you navigate everything from learning protocols and responsibilities to remembering your colleagues’ names. During this time, nothing can be more detrimental to your success and efficiency than being disorganized.

Sure, chaos at times is normal and expected, but how you handle that chaos will be what sets you apart. From day one, find ways to stay organized and efficiently manage your time. This process looks different for everyone, but a great place to start when it comes to managing your workload is to write out goals and to-do’s for yourself, categorizing them as either short-, immediate-, or long-term. By doing this, you’ll have a tangible list to tackle that you’re able to cross off as you go.

Setting goals also helps you to own your schedule, which is critical to minimizing the risk of burnout. When physicians are asked what is contributing to their chaotic schedules, many cite the amount of clerical work and documentation that they are required to perform. If you find that your day just gets away from you, document your activities for a few days. Once you have determined where the time drag is coming from, you can work on a resolution. Your career as a physician means that you are a natural problem solver, and your time is an issue to be solved, not ignored.

3. Earn the Trust of Your Patients

Don’t underestimate the power and benefit of earning the trust and respect of your patients. A key element of success in your first 90 days is laying down the groundwork to foster a healthy, beneficial rapport with the community you care for. As a physician, people are coming to you in some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. That’s why you must ensure they have a healthcare provider who will advocate for them, help reduce their anxiety, and empower them to make the best decisions regarding their health.

In doing this, you’ll reap the benefits of building an excellent reputation, earning top patient satisfaction scores, increasing patient retention, and having the ability to provide them with the best possible care.

Here are a few tips for building trust from the beginning, according to Pharmaceutical Journal’s Maria Allinson and Betty Char:

  • Demonstrate active listening without interruption to ensure patients feel their concerns are heard and considered.
  • Practice using effective communication skills – both verbal and non-verbal – so your patients feel respected and empathized with when receiving information that may be difficult to hear.
  • Identify areas where you may need additional training, and don’t be afraid to seek out guidance or advice when you don’t know an answer.
  • Act with honesty and integrity, always making decisions with the patient’s best interest in mind.

4. Build Strong Relationships With Your Colleagues

In a high-stress professional environment, the ability to trust the people you work with and having them reciprocate that trust is a vital component of succeeding in your new role. When there is mutual understanding and respect among a team, you can expect higher rates of engagement, an alignment of goals, and an increase in motivation. So, from the beginning, it is in your best interest to build a strong foundation and put forth the effort to get to know each of your new team members.

Viewing your new role as one contributing part of a greater goal helps to create a more collaborative environment where everyone feels as though their hard work matters. You must respect the idea that every team member is essential and that you can’t be successful without their collective contributions.

It is just as important to also get to know your fellow physicians and work on building those relationships, as well. You will find that you need a strong support system to get you acclimated in your first 90 days, and your physician colleagues play an essential role in that. Having others who understand what you are going through and can be relied upon is a key ingredient to your success and fulfillment as a physician.

5. Make the Most of Your Physician Orientation

According to a recent survey, one in three physicians receive no formal orientation upon joining their employer – a huge issue that unnecessarily leaves many struggling to get acclimated in the first few months of their employment, which can lead to early physician turnover. A formal orientation helps to set expectations, explain policies and procedures, and assists physicians in assimilating socially with their staff.

If your new organization offers a formal orientation, you must take advantage of every aspect of it by writing detailed notes, asking thoughtful questions, and understanding the goals you need to meet to be successful.

However, if you find yourself as the one in three with little direction at the beginning, download your own onboarding checklist and communicate with your superiors to ensure everything from credentialing to setting up patient communications is handled properly. You’ll be glad you took matters into your own hands.

6. Practice Self-care

The first 90 days of any new physician job are bound to be challenging, stressful, and overwhelming. It is of the utmost importance to practice self-care and tend to your mental health, so you can be at the top of your game to avoid burnout and create a healthy level of work/life balance.

Practicing self-care looks different for everyone, so it’s important to find ways that help you de-stress and recuperate each day. When you have downtime, seek out activities that allow your mind to focus on things other than work, such as taking an evening walk with your family, reading a book before bed instead of scrolling on your phone, or doing a guided meditation.

Another important aspect of practicing self-care is getting an ample amount of sleep each night. After enduring long hours on your feet from school and residency, you may have to re-learn how to sleep, since you’ve likely become accustomed to not getting much rest on a day-to-day basis. Try creating and sticking to a routine that ensures at least 8 hours of sleep a night.

Remember: the better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of your patients.

7. Seek Out a Mentor or Professional Coach

One of the most important things you can do in the first 90 days of your new role is finding a mentor or professional coach. Whether that is someone you formed a relationship with during your training or an experienced colleague at your new workplace, a trusted advisor can be invaluable to new physicians.

A professional coach or mentor has a leg up on things you may not know, as well as things you don’t know, you don’t know.

Having someone who understands what you are experiencing can help you overcome any anxiety you may be feeling in the beginning. A mentor can also help you develop the habits and systems you will need for long-term success. Plus, they can also be a sounding board during difficult times.

You have done an incredible amount of work to get where you are today, but it is just the beginning. The first 90 days in your new position can be used to develop the foundation that assures a long and prosperous career. Don’t underestimate the value of cultivating successful habits – without them, bad habits tend to take their place.

If you’re ready to pursue a new physician job opportunity, reach out to the physician recruitment professionals at Jackson Physician Search.

 

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[White Paper] COVID-19 Changed the Physician Job Market: What Happened and What’s Next for Physician Jobs?

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Ask how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted physicians and you’ll get as many answers as there are physicians. Each one has and continues to experience the pandemic differently, however some common themes emerge. From the battle-worn emergency medicine physicians and hospitalists who experienced COVID-19 up close in ERs and ICUs, to the primary care physicians and psychiatrists who seamlessly transitioned to telemedicine, to the surgeons who were forced to stop working altogether, physicians’ experiences with the pandemic will certainly influence how they move forward.

As we continue to recover, we asked:

  • Are physicians thinking differently about their careers because of COVID?
  • For those seeking change, what are their job prospects?
  • How did COVID impact the way healthcare organizations will now approach physician recruiting?

Physician Recruitment Continues to be as Dynamic as Ever

As the President of a national physician recruitment firm, I regularly check in with our teams of physician recruiters working all over the country to learn what’s happening in their specific markets. I recently interviewed the Regional Vice Presidents of Recruiting in each division to get their takes on how COVID is changing the physician job market.

These Jackson Physician Search VPs lead impressive teams, but they too are in the trenches, working daily with physicians and healthcare organizations in every imaginable setting—from big urban markets to some of the most rural parts of the country. After speaking with each of them at length, I can share that the news is positive for physicians seeking jobs. Physicians are in high demand, so it’s not surprising to hear that healthcare organizations are rolling out the red carpet to attract the best candidates.

Included within the paper are insights gleaned from speaking with four Regional Vice Presidents of Recruiting at Jackson Physician Search. I’ll not only share observations on the current market, but I’ll also provide actionable takeaways for both physicians seeking new opportunities and the organizations that seek to hire them.

Six Takeaways

  1. After a temporary dip, demand for physicians is once again high as patient volumes begin to return to pre-COVID levels while an increased number of physicians report they plan to retire or change jobs.
  2. More physicians than typical are leaving large metropolitan areas and considering jobs in alternative markets.
  3. Interest in telemedicine continues to increase, but its future is uncertain as post-COVID reimbursement rates are still to be determined.
  4. Heightened physician demand has yet to cause significant changes to base compensation and signing bonuses, but the lingering effects of the pandemic will likely shift other aspects of physician compensation.
  5. Virtual interviews and site visits are here to stay as both parties benefit from the convenience and time saved.
  6. Flexibility and an open mind are still critical in the physician job search for both physicians and those who seek to hire them.

Download the Paper to Get Important Insights about the Current Physician Job Market 

For more information about how your healthcare organization can use this paper to improve your physician recruitment results, contact Jackson Physician Search today. Our team is made up of healthcare industry professionals who have spent decades recruiting physicians, physician leaders, and advanced practice providers for healthcare organizations coast-to-coast.

About Jackson Physician Search

Jackson Physician Search is an established industry leader in physician recruitment and pioneered the recruitment methodologies standard in the industry today. The firm specializes in the permanent recruitment of physicians, physician leaders and advanced practice providers for hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers and medical groups across the United States. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., the company is recognized for its track record of results built on client trust and transparency of processes and fees. Jackson Physician Search is part of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies.

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Physician Compensation: Ask the Right Questions at the Right Time

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When considering a new physician job opportunity, it’s natural to be curious about the physician compensation package. With location, practicing setting, and compensation among the top concerns for many physicians, it’s tempting to ask for details early.

As a best practice, we recommend that you resist the urge to bring up the physician compensation conversation until your on-site interview, often the time when you and your potential employer have the opportunity to establish strong, mutual interest. Discussing compensation is a strong indicator that you’re interested in the position. Asking too early could leave employers feeling that compensation is your most important consideration, when in reality, finding a position that matches your personal and professional goals is priority.

Knowing what to ask regarding the compensation model is just as important as knowing when to ask. Your physician recruiter will likely give you a high-level overview of the compensation package, but compensation models can be complicated and confusing. Understanding the specific physician compensation model being used by the hiring organization will give you a much more realistic view of your total earning potential, and it will enable you to negotiate a package that is fair and aligned with your priorities.

Next time you find yourself seriously evaluating a job opportunity, consider the points below regarding physician compensation:

Structure

  • Ask how the model works. Specifically, find out what production, quality, and patient satisfaction metrics you must achieve to earn an incentive bonus.
  • Factor in the value of benefits, such as health insurance, PTO, CME allowance, disability and life insurance, retirement benefits, dues and subscriptions, licensure fees, and other reimbursable expenses.
  • Understand the payor mix, which is important if your compensation will be based on charges, collections, or revenue.
  • Malpractice insurance is expensive, so explore that topic, too. Employment agreements should state whether coverage is provided and who is paying for it.

Incentives

  • Ask about first-year incentives, such as signing bonuses, student loan repayments, and reimbursement for relocation, licensing, and board certification.
  • Find out if there are bonuses related to achieving retention milestones or if ownership shares are an option down the road.
  • You may also be compensated with an hourly or daily stipend for taking call or serving in a medical director capacity.

Transparency

  • Your prospective employer should be able to explain how the compensation models work and provide a worst and best-case scenario for your first and subsequent years.
  • It is “fair game” to ask to review the practice’s financials. You may also ask how much current physicians are making and how long it took them to ramp-up to that level.
  • To ensure clear expectations, decisions related to compensation and benefits should be written into your employment agreement.

How Location Affects Physician Compensation

Geographic region and market size significantly influence compensation and how far your income will stretch. Adjust for the cost of living in dollars and assess the location with your lifestyle expectations in mind. Work schedules, after-hours activities, vacation coverage, and weekend shifts influence work/life balance. It’s important to know what a future employer expects, and how they assist physicians in managing stress, avoiding burnout, and cultivating career satisfaction.

With all of the complicating factors contributing to compensation, physicians must do their homework to determine which opportunity offers a fair package, a satisfying work environment, a strong cultural fit with the organization, and a happy life outside of work.

Physicians who are ready to find their best, next opportunity should turn to a trusted leader in physician recruitment and placement, Jackson Physician Search. Our team of experienced healthcare industry professionals has the network and tools to help you take your physician career to the next level. Contact us today and learn how.

Reputable Physician Compensation Data Sources

Physician compensation data can be derived from various sources, some being more accurate and reliable than others. Overwhelmingly, compensation data found through MGMA is considered the “gold standard” as a data source. Many healthcare administrators utilize the information published by MGMA as their benchmark for compensation data.

It is wise to pay attention to other sources for a complete picture, including the annual surveys conducted by American Medical Group Association (AMGA). To focus on compensation for a specific metro area or location, it is helpful to cross-reference salary data found at Doximity.com. Be aware that the data found at Doximity is self-reported and may or may not include benefits. Regardless, it can be useful in determining what you might expect in an offer within specific localities.

Five Resources for Physician Salary Data

Some of the resources listed above require you to purchase the data, while others are published free of charge. Another great tool is the Jackson Physician Search Salary Calculator, found here.

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…

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

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…

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

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

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

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.

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

If you’re looking to take your career to the next level and want to be in the best position to achieve your goals, learn four helpful steps to advance your physician career…

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

By

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.

[Infographic Guide] Four Steps to Advance Your Physician Career

If you’re looking to take your career to the next level and want to be in the best position to achieve your goals, learn four helpful steps to advance your physician career…

Five Ways Professional Coaching Helps Physicians Turn New Jobs into Long-Term Success

As a physician, landing a new practice opportunity is cause for well-deserved celebration. It also signifies the beginning of a new journey – one in which you’re bound to experience some great successes, as well as a few bumps in the road…

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.