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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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…

Physician Contracts: Always Negotiate These Six Parts

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 questions…

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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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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…

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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

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

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Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

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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[Infographic Guide] Four Steps to Advance Your Physician Career

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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.

 

4 Steps to Advance Your Physician Career:

1. Build Your Professional Network

  • Join associations like the American Medical Association or the Medical Group Management Association
  • Get involved by actively networking at conferences and serving on committees within your facility and professional associations
  • Develop relationships with physician recruiters

2. Boost Your Digital Footprint

  • Keep your social media profiles up to date
  • Check the privacy settings on your accounts
  • Don’t rely on a single source for your online professional presence

3. Seek Professional Publication

  • Be original
  • Be cost-conscious
  • Be a rule follower
  • Be persistent

4. Serve Your Community

  • Volunteer for local causes in your community and within the healthcare industry
  • Consider medical mission trips
  • Mentor medical students, residents, and newer physicians

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Physician Giving a Lecture

A Physician’s Career Can Take Many Paths

Through the year 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects physician employment to increase by 13%, with rural and underserved population centers even higher….

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

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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.

During the on-site physician interview, both you and your new employer were evaluating cultural fit. Being aligned with the mission and values is a key driver of your happiness within the role, and the facility’s chances of achieving long-term physician retention.

Even with a strong culture fit, newly hired physicians still must identify key relationship dynamics among staff, colleagues and the leadership team. It can be stressful to navigate the internal politics that are unique to every organization. A recent study by a talent management software provider suggested that 53% of employees say they felt on-the-job pressure to get involved in workplace politics simply in order to get ahead – which can be a huge drain of emotional energy, if not managed effectively.

And in the search for a positive work-life balance – which is often a big reason physicians change jobs in the first place – finding some tools to get off to a great start in a new career setting is important.

Maximize the Benefits of Onboarding

The onboarding process is fundamentally important to your long-term success, as it covers everything from settling in a new community, becoming integrated in the facility, invested in the culture, and learning the unique processes of a new care setting.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, the two primary goals of an employee’s first day on the job should be setting expectations, in addition to getting to know the team, as quickly as possible.

Communication is critical, so it’s a good idea to ask for a schedule of your first week before arriving, which will give you a good idea of who you’ll be meeting with – and allow you time to do a bit of research on the key players.

And keep that communication front and center as you begin to learn the workings of your new care environment – speak with your key staff, colleagues and leadership as much as you can. A lunch or dinner with staff is also a great way to get to understand the realities and responsibilities of a new role, so if they haven’t been scheduled already, consider extending an invitation. It’s an easy way to feel more welcomed within the organization, and you can also learn more about the cultural norms of the facility, in a less formal setting.

Finally, be open about any shortcomings in the orientation process, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Then, take it one step further and consider how professional coaching could help you assimilate quicker and, ultimately, further your career.

Professional Coaching Helps You See What You Can’t

Many doctors are finding that professional, specialized coaching can be a lifesaver when it comes to more seamlessly integrating into a new position and maximizing their career potential. As well-intentioned as physicians are, they are still human. And, even the most enlightened have blind spots that inhibit their ability to build and maintain strong working relationships.

Much like the mentor arrangements many physicians find in medical school, a professional coach can help smooth the adjustment into a new role. In a healthcare setting, coaching can also help create better boundaries that may contribute to a healthy work-life balance, as well as help establish professional habits that will turn a new job into a long and satisfying part of your medical career.

Let’s review five important benefits of professional coaching and why it’s a wise investment in your future.

  1. Reduces Physician Burnout

According to a 2019 Mayo Clinic study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, physicians who received six sessions of professional on-the-job coaching had a considerable reduction in emotional exhaustion and the various symptoms associated with physician burnout. They also expressed significant improvements in their overall quality of life, and their ability to remain resilient in the face of stress.

As the study notes, one-on-one coaching can help complement traditional healthcare workplace mentoring and peer support systems by building motivation, self-awareness and the proactive ability to take effective action to resolve issues and solve problems – by accessing their strengths and skills to better handle work-related stress.

A Duke University study on coaching’s benefits also suggests that coaching can help build emotional intelligence in even high-level professionals: “…It allowed many [physicians] to become more compassionate with themselves when they were not able to accomplish what they would like. …Coaching helped them become more flexible with and tolerant of the daily challenges that came their way.”

  1. Eases the Transition to a New Position

Dr. Les Schwab is an internist with Atrius Health, and also serves as the Harnisch Scholar at the Institute of Coaching. He told the American Medical Association that physician coaching can be important at any stage of a medical career, but especially helpful when transitioning to a new role.

“Wherever you’re at, you’re on some rung of your developmental ladder, and you’re reaching for the next one,” he said. “Whether it’s the guy struggling to get his charts done, the midcareer doctor learning to revitalize his work, or the division chief learning to be an effective leader – all have new challenges to master. Coaching [aims to help] you reach wherever your attainment needs to take you.”

  1. Creates Space for Self-Reflection to Keep Career Goals on Track

And physician-specific coaching really can pay off. Cardiologist Toniya Singh, MBBS, FACC, a partner at St. Louis Heart and Vascular, told the American College of Cardiology how a professional coach helped her adapt to a potentially stressful new role as chief of staff at a hospital.

“[Coaching] helps to keep me on track and ensure I am making the progress that I want,” Singh said. “Every month, I am forced to stop and think about my priorities, and how I am going to address them with my coach. The fact that I am spending time clarifying these problems is perhaps just as valuable as the coaching itself. It is helpful for all physicians to get an outside perspective on self-confidence, work challenges and more.”

Diane Scott, a certified professional coach with three decades of healthcare experience, says, “coaching increases a physician’s capacity as a leader, which contributes to improved patient satisfaction ratings, deeper levels of engagement, and growth for the organization as a whole.”

  1. Drives Improved Patient Satisfaction, Minimizes Malpractice Risks

Physician coaching has also been shown to increase patient satisfaction scores and improve adherence and outcomes, as well as bettering staff relationships and even cutting down on malpractice costs. Dr. Dean Dalili, president of hospital medicine for Envision Healthcare, says a coaching program in his facility led to a 91% retention rate for specialists, with improved performance and patient scores across the board.

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public health worker, admits he was initially reluctant about the idea of personal coaching, but explains in a New Yorker article that like a top athlete or performer, the one-on-one direction and goal-setting helped him reach his personal best.

That personal insight and goal setting can help make the difference in creating a positive and healthy relationship with both management and nursing staff. Perhaps now more than ever, the healthcare workplace is a high-pressure environment, and coaching can help in fostering a culture that promotes engagement, fairness, respect and communication.

  1. Promotes Culture Assimilation

A LinkedIn study suggested that 70% of professionals would not choose to take a job with an organization if it meant dealing with challenging workplace culture; your role in the first days and weeks of your new position is to help make sure you fit – and thrive – in a new job, so you can provide the best care possible to your patients.

A job change is never easy, but getting off on the right foot can be a great way to make that big move the best move you’ve made so far in your career.

Jackson Physician Search has nationwide reach and a team of recruitment professionals with decades of healthcare industry experience. Search our open positions today and take the next step in finding a role that meets your career and lifestyle needs.

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Primary Care Slated for Potential Boost in 2021 Physician Compensation

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The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has proven to be the ultimate test of the strength and resilience of the American healthcare system, and the backbone of highly skilled physicians and clinicians upon which it is based. And when it comes to physician compensation, the challenges created by the pandemic may have many physicians wondering what to expect in 2021, when the global and local impact of the pandemic hopefully begins to wane. The social distancing, quarantining and telehealth precautions and procedures adopted almost instantaneously, nationwide, in March of 2020, meant that elective surgeries came to a standstill and office visits dwindled to a trickle.

As a result, American healthcare systems saw furloughs, layoffs and staff reductions to an extent we couldn’t have predicted. According to the American Hospital Association, health systems and facilities in the U.S. lost more than $200 billion in the first quarter of 2020; MGMA research suggests that physician-practice income fell by as much as 55%, as clinics closed or patients chose to delay their visits.

The pandemic has surfaced questions about the efficacy of some of the existing compensation models and their ability to react to major systemic disruptions, while still providing physicians with the income they have come to depend on.

Major Issues in Primary Care

Primary care providers – family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and OB/GYN – were hit hard by 2020’s first round of clinic closures and service disruptions, especially those operating on a fee-for-service schedule.

A study conducted by Healthaffairs.org suggests that over the course of the year, primary care practices are expected to lose almost $68,000 in gross revenue, per provider, due to pandemic issues – leading to total systemic losses of more than $15 billion. And the number could be double that, they say, if CMS policies fast-tracking payment for telemedicine are only a short-lived fix.

Adding to the issues is the reality that primary care continues to experience a shortage of qualified physicians, for a variety of reasons. Even at the medical school level, some students are actively steered away from pursuing a career in primary care as medical specialists can and do, on average, earn twice as much as their primary care counterparts. And given the huge burden created by medical student loan debt, which has come to exceed $200,000 per physician on average, the incentive to pursue primary care after medical school has dwindled considerably.

According to Kaiser Health News, of 8,116 internal medicine residency positions offered to graduates in 2019, only 41.5% were filled by American medical students – and many of those may elect to ultimately pursue a fellowship in another specialty. As a result, the American Association of Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of 21,400 to 55,200 primary care practitioners by the year 2033.

CMS Proposes Long-due Changes that Increase Reimbursement for Primary Care

One particularly bright spot has appeared that might help to ease the financial burdens and ultimately entice more physicians to choose primary care. The 2021 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Physician Fee Schedule, set to be finalized December 1 and put into effect in 2021, proposes an array of changes aimed at addressing primary care issues, including higher reimbursement rates for evaluation and management (E/M) services such as office visits and care management services, as well as a renewed emphasis on telehealth procedures.

Primary care procedures and treatments ranging from electronic home visits to outpatient or prolonged virtual office visits have all been permanently added to Medicare’s lists; rest home visits, emergency visits and even psychological testing are also covered during the duration of the Covid-19 public health emergency.

Further, streamlined EMR documentation requirements for primary care doctors also mean more face-to-face time with Medicare-covered patients, lightening the bureaucratic burden and upping patient numbers. According to the American Association of Family Physicians, the increase in total allowed charges for primary care doctors is now slated for 13%. Given that Medicare spending grew by 6.4% in 2018 to $750.2 billion and Medicaid also grew by 3.0% to $597.4 billion – some 37% of national health expenditures in the entire country – the CMS changes represent a significant reinvestment in primary care.

Admittedly, other specialty areas are less enthused by the CMS’s proposed changes in priority. In order to pay primary care providers more, cuts in payments to surgery and other specialists have been made, in an effort to maintain budget neutrality. The proposed ruling calls for a 9% cut to cardiac surgery, 7% to vascular surgery, 7% for general surgery and 6% to ophthalmology procedures, versus 2020 rates.

Organizations such as the American Medical Association are urging the CMS to treat all physicians fairly, and are upset that radiologists, pathologists and anesthesiologists could be impacted by the realignment of fees, with further delays in treatment, compounding the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Other Compensation Trends in 2021

With so many specialists facing the reality of lower incomes in 2020 as a result of lower patient volumes, both physicians and facilities have also used this year’s rollercoaster ride to reexamine the fee-for-service model. According to the National Law Review, the long-term fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to prompt a greater move toward value-based metrics as part of physician compensation.

“The new approach to physician compensation will mimic what we have seen in recent Medicare models, such as accountable care organizations. Outcomes-based, quality-based and population-based compensation arrangements will become more common,” the magazine notes.

Other Financial Benefits and Perks are on the Table

Primary care physicians looking for a new practice opportunity should also keep in mind that salary is just one component of a larger compensation package, as employers look to remain competitive and build long-term relationships to encourage physician retention.

Add-on features ranging from student loan forgiveness and housing allowances to sign-on bonuses are now part of the perks offered to help attract and retain the right physician candidates. Low-interest loans, deferred compensation, personal financial advisors or even time for sabbaticals and research projects are all on the table, as healthcare employers seek to build a happier and more productive workplace for their physician employees.

The Only Thing That is Certain is Change

 2020 has definitely been a challenging year, in so many different ways. Doctors are not only saving the world, quite literally, but many are making less money as a result of the pandemic, and working incredibly long, stressful hours. At the end of the day, you have to decide what you want for yourself and your family. Does that require a relocation to be closer to loved ones? A move away from a role as a self-employed practitioner, or decision to strike out on your own or become a medical practice partner? Reimbursement rates and compensation models will continue to change as the industry searches for a solution to the financial complexities that is healthcare.

If you’re looking for a new position, things are picking up in terms of physician recruitment after a six-month lull in the market. This means you have more access to positions that are a better fit your career, and your lifestyle. To connect with a nationally recognized physician recruitment firm, reach out to the healthcare industry professionals at Jackson Physician Search today. You can also search our open positions here.

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Take Stock of Physician Burnout, Well-being on World Mental Health Day

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World Mental Health Day falls this year on Saturday, October 10th, and organizations worldwide are raising awareness about mental illness and removing the stigma of seeking mental health treatment. World Mental Health Day was first recognized in 1992, and with the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting communities across the globe, this year’s events seem more relevant than ever.

Considering the chaos and challenges of the past eight months, a critical aspect to consider is how the pandemic has impacted the physician burnout rates, well-being, and mental health of our healthcare heroes, including physicians, nurses, and other providers serving on the frontlines.

In the United States – pre-COVID-19 – 45% of our physicians reported experiencing feelings of burnout at least weekly, and some studies show the rate is actually much higher. Also, an article reported that 20% of medical residents struggled with depression, further supporting the troubling trend of physicians having the highest rate of suicide compared to other professions. In fact, it’s estimated that 300 physicians die by suicide each year in the U.S.

Sadly, physicians rarely seek treatment, or they opt to self-medicate. A 2019 paper in Missouri Medicine, The Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association and published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information site explains that a little over 27% of medical students showed symptoms of depression but only 15.7% reached out for professional treatment.

While a mental health illness and physician burnout aren’t one in the same, both have devastating effects on physicians, their patients, and their families. And with 7.5+ million COVID cases and 210,000+ deaths to date, the lasting effects on physicians and other healthcare workers will not be known for some time. From providing care to wave upon wave of those infected, to worrying about having adequate PPE, to being concerned about exposing loved ones, physicians are at risk of experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Take Stock of Your Mental Health Through a Self-assessment

During this week leading up to World Mental Health Day, it is an important time for all physicians to do a self-assessment and seek appropriate treatment if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, suicide ideation, other stress disorders, or PTSD. Symptoms may include:

  • Recurring dreams, flashbacks, thoughts, or constant reminders of traumatic experiences.
  • Not being able to share your thoughts or feelings about the trauma, or avoiding situations that remind you of it.
  • Noticeable negative thoughts about yourself or the world around you. Feelings of irritability, hopelessness, and being emotionally numb.
  • Having feelings of detachment, memory lapses, and a lack of interest in activities you would typically enjoy.

An Ounce of Prevention May Stave Off Feelings of Depression

With so much about the COVID-19 crisis still unknown, and with no clear end in sight, physicians should continue to monitor levels of depression and stress – even if you’re currently coping well. Additionally, consider the following pro-active steps to counteract the negative impact the pandemic may have on your mental health and overall well-being.

  1. Talk about your feelings. One of the simplest, but most often ignored ways to relieve stress and anxiety is to talk about it. Whether you sit down with a mental health professional, a trusted colleague, a professional physician coach, or a loved one, speaking freely about how you are feeling can be a release from your internal struggles.
  2. Practice what you preach. In the past, how many times have you counseled a patient to find ways to get more rest, employ a healthier diet, and engage in regular physical activity? Now, more than ever, these basic coping strategies should be implemented into your daily routine as much as practical.
  3. Turn off social media. Just as you might tell your teenager to cut back on screen time, you should follow suit yourself. Today’s political and social environment means that just spending a few minutes scrolling through social media sites can be enough to raise your stress levels. If you have a few minutes of downtime, use your smartphone to read a chapter of your favorite book or listen to music.
  4. Take a break. If possible, take your scheduled vacation, even if it means a staycation. Reconnecting with loved ones and relishing in your hobbies can bring feelings of much-needed normalcy.
  5. Take solace in the importance of your work. While the past eight months may feel like more than you signed up for, you were called to medicine for a reason. Through the frustrations, challenges, and worries, the practice of medicine is a noble and worthy pursuit. Take a moment to remind yourself of the importance of your work and recognize that the sacrifices being made by yourself and your colleagues are invaluable.
  6. Finally, do not self-medicate. Trust a healthcare professional to assess your symptoms and prescribe a course of treatment. Getting past the fear of judgment or negative stigma associated with mental illness may be difficult, but it has been documented that non-depressed physicians make fewer errors – and you’ll feel better.

While World Mental Health Day is a good reminder to highlight the mental health of physicians during this pandemic and have empathy for those who are struggling, the feelings of depression, burnout, stress, and fatigue are not going to magically disappear once COVID-19 becomes a historical discussion, much like H1N1 and SARS. Physicians will be dealing with the aftereffects of this crisis well beyond, making it vitally important to take appropriate actions now. Practice self-care and also be mindful of the mental illness warning signs in your colleagues. Sometimes it takes an uncomfortable – but brave – conversation to save a life or a career.

Resources for Anonymous Help

Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you through these troubling times. Physicians can call the Physicians Support Line at (888) 409-0141 for free, anonymous counseling. Another free resource providing peer-to-peer programs designed to provide support, connection, encouragement, and skill-building to help physicians combat burnout, is PeerRxMed. Finally, physicians and others in crisis can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

If, upon reflection, you decide now is the right time to explore new career opportunities, Jackson Physician Search has a team of healthcare industry experts who can guide you every step of the way. We have the experience, network, and nationwide reach to work with you in finding a practice setting that gets you closer to achieving your career and life goals. Contact our team of physician recruitment professionals today and find out how we can make a difference for you.

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[Infographic Guide] Physician Do’s and Don’ts for the On-Site Interview and Community Tour

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Congrats! You’ve landed the coveted on-site interview and community tour. To make the most of this important part of the process, learn the Physician Do’s and Don’ts.

 

Physician Do’s and Don’ts for the On-Site Visit

5 Do’s:

  1. Do Have a Game Plan and Conduct a Background Check
  2. Do Prepare Questions
  3. Do Make the Best Impression
  4. Do Research the Community
  5. Do Establish a Strong Relationship with a Recruiter

5 Don’ts:

  1. Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Compensation
  2. Don’t Leave Your Family Out
  3. Don’t Forget to Have Fun
  4. Don’t Hesistate to Chat With a Neighbor or Someone at the Local Coffee Shop
  5. Don’t Overlook the Details

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