[Infographic Guide] 5 Physician Job Search Mistakes to Avoid

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After applying to medical school, residencies, and fellowships, most physician candidates are well-versed at the submission and interview process. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to make mistakes. They know better than to make the typical job search mistakes–typos on a CV, social media blunders, showing up late to an interview–but rather, it’s the less obvious mistakes that can derail them from getting the job they want, or more likely, cause them to take a job that isn’t a good fit. Keep reading to learn how to avoid these common physician job search mistakes.

 

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Physician Job Search

These common job search mistakes can keep physicians from getting the job they want, or more likely, cause them to take jobs that aren’t a good fit. Keep reading to find out how to avoid these 5 physician job search mistakes.  

Physician Job Search Mistake #1: Starting Too Late

Physicians who start their job search early will have more options than those who wait until the last minute. JPS Vice President of Recruiting Tara Osseck advises residents: 

“Allow at least one year for a physician job search.”

Allow more than one year if: 

  • You require J-1 visa support
  • A specific location is top priority
  • Your specialty is highly-recruited

 

Physician Job Search Mistake #2: Limiting Your Search

Physicians who insist on a narrow scope of practice or a specific city will limit their options and miss the chance to consider other, possibly better-suited, opportunities. Prioritize what’s most important to you but also identify areas of flexibility–and the more the better. 

Broaden what’s acceptable in terms of: 

  • Location 
  • Practice setting
  • Scope of practice
  • Type of organization

Physician Job Search Mistake #3: Ignoring Red Flags

Most physicians who regret their job choice admit, when looking back, there were a number of red flags. Not every red flag is a dealbreaker, but they do require further investigation.

Red flags to watch out for:

  • High turnover
  • Negativity
  • Productivity imbalances
  • Insufficient technology
  • Unclear terms
  • Vague answers

Physician Job Search Mistake #4: Discounting the Importance of Culture

A big paycheck is nice, but if your values don’t align with the people around you, your job satisfaction will suffer. Use the on-site interview to learn about the organization’s culture. 

In the Rural Physician Recruitment and Staffing Survey from JPS and LocumTenens.com, physicians ranked the following as the top 3 attributes in an employer’s culture:

  • 40% Physician autonomy 
  • 35% Teamwork 
  • 31% Patient-focused

Physician Job Search Mistake #5: Not Leveraging Available Resources 

The recruiters at Jackson Physician Search have valuable expertise to share about the job search process. Not only can they help you with the logistics of what to do and when, but JPS recruiters know their markets inside and out and can share insight about individual organizations. 

Leverage physician recruiters for advice on:

  • Job search timing
  • CV review
  • Compensation expectations
  • Organizational culture

Don’t make the mistake of going it alone. Reach out to the Jackson Physician Search Recruitment Team today.

How to Avoid the Top Mistakes Physicians Make in the Job Search

Whether you are finishing up residency or you are already working and evaluating new physician job opportunities, your physician job search is bound to present some challenges. Learn how to avoid the biggest mistakes physicians make.

6 Red Flags to Watch Out for During the Physician Interview

Physicians often accept positions without taking time to fully investigate the red flags warning the position may not be an ideal fit for their unique professional and personal goals. Here’s what to watch out for…

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Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

5 Things to Know About Telemedicine Jobs

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“The doctor will see you now.”

Those words, uttered by nurses in waiting rooms since the dawn of the medical practice, are spoken a bit less frequently in recent years. Increased adoption of telehealth means fewer patients are driving to a physical building and sitting in a waiting room before an appointment with a physician. Instead, they are picking up their smartphones and logging on to request an appointment, and in some cases, they are seen in a matter of minutes. Patients are thrilled with the time savings, and in many cases, they feel the experience overall is equal to or better than the experience of seeing a provider in person, but how do physicians feel about telehealth? And what do you need to know if you plan to practice telemedicine?

Patient Demand Will Drive the Need for More Telemedicine Jobs 

When physician offices shut down in response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth visits were the only option available to many patients seeking routine care. While many organizations offered telehealth appointments prior to 2020, the pandemic quickly drove adoption to 78 times the level it was prior to February 2020. The benefits of telehealth during a pandemic were obvious–diagnosis and treatment with no risk of disease transmission–but it became immediately clear that the benefits extended far beyond curbing the spread of disease. 

For patients, telehealth appointments can typically be scheduled faster than an in-person visit, they take less time out of the patient’s day, and they don’t require the patient to arrange childcare or ask for time off work. And for patients living in more remote areas, telehealth provides direct access to specialists they may have had to drive hours to see in person.    

For these reasons, telemedicine remains extremely popular with patients. In fact, more than two years after the initial spike in telehealth adoption, a study from McKinsey suggests the volume of telehealth has found a new baseline that is still 38 times what it was pre-pandemic. 

Will Patients Have Permanent Access to Telemedicine?

Despite the overwhelming popularity and undeniable benefits of telehealth, its future remains uncertain due to the still-temporary waivers allowing providers to treat patients across state lines. It’s also not clear if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will continue to reimburse telehealth appointments at the same rate as in-person visits long-term. Until Congress approves permanent policy on the topic, it may be difficult for traditional healthcare organizations to incorporate telehealth into their long-term strategic plans. 

Despite the uncertainties, patient demand for telehealth seems here to stay. In a November 2021 survey conducted by McKinsey, 55% of patients said they were more satisfied with their virtual visits than in-person appointments. According to a study by Wheel of 400 physicians and nurse practitioners, a majority of respondents expect virtual primary care visits to surpass in-person visits in the next five years. 

Physician Attitudes Split on Telemedicine Jobs

Despite the way many were forced into practicing telemedicine, some physicians felt the benefits right away and even developed a preference for it. In the aforementioned Wheel survey, two out of three respondents said they prefer virtual-only or hybrid work. In a Jackson Physician Search whitepaper exploring the impact of COVID on the physician job market, physician recruitment leaders noted an increase in physicians seeking jobs that would allow them to practice telemedicine full or part-time.  

The McKinsey study paints a slightly different picture. Its series of surveys showed shifting physician attitudes towards telehealth. In July 2020, the percentage of physicians saying telehealth visits were extremely effective was at its peak, and the figure declined with each subsequent survey, one conducted in November 2020 and the other in April 2021. The percentage of physicians recommending telehealth visits over in-person visits also declined. 

Pros and Cons of Telemedicine Jobs

An obvious “pro” for telemedicine jobs is the opportunity it provides for physicians to work from home, eliminating commutes and the other hassles of working in an office. With physician burnout an ongoing industry concern, allowing physicians more flexible hours and the chance to work from home–at least some of the time–may help them find a better work-life balance. And of course, lest we forget the original benefit of telemedicine–the reason for the rapid adoption of telehealth–there is no risk of exposure to pathogens during a telehealth appointment. It also allows patients in rural or remote areas to receive the care they need.

There are also drawbacks to telemedicine. Telehealth visits are not appropriate for many patient scenarios, and some physicians feel something gets “lost” when evaluating patients through a screen. There are liability concerns, technology issues to contend with, and for now at least, instability surrounding telehealth policy and regulations. 

Next Steps in Telemedicine Training 

As healthcare organizations continue to modify care delivery to meet patient needs, it is likely more physician jobs will include some aspect of telemedicine. Medical schools are developing curriculum to train students in telehealth, and professional organizations such as the AMA now offer resources to establish telehealth best practices. At the organizational level, telehealth training will likely become an essential part of physician onboarding

No matter which camp you are in–team telehealth or team in-person–telemedicine appears to be here to stay. Patients will increasingly expect telehealth options as part of standard care delivery, so physicians must pursue training on telehealth technology and techniques in order to competently incorporate telemedicine into their practice.  

If you are interested in incorporating telehealth into your next physician job, the Jackson Physician Search Recruitment Team would be happy to assist you in finding job opportunities that offer this benefit. Contact us today

physician job search tips

Physician Job Search Tips: What I Wish I’d Known About My First Job Search

Studies indicate half of all physicians leave their first job within three years. What can residents and fellows beginning their own job searches learn from their job search mistakes?

3 Challenges Female Physicians Face–And How to Overcome Them

Employers should take steps to better support their female physicians, but female physicians must be proactive in seeking solutions if they hope to enjoy lasting, fulfilling medical careers…

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

Physician Job Search Tips for Dual-Physician Couples

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What is it about high stress and cadavers that sparks romance for so many medical students? It’s true–many couples meet and marry in medical school or residency. In fact, a 2020 study by the American Medical Association Insurance Agency (AMAIA) found up to 40% of physicians are married to other healthcare professionals, many times, to another physician. 

Data from a recent Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com survey shows nearly one in five Millennial physicians is married to another physician. For Generation X, the percentage was 12% and for Baby Boomers, 5%. The data is clear–the number of physicians marrying physicians increases with each generation. 

Whether they meet in med school, residency, or on the job, physician couples will find both benefits and challenges in this pairing. Certainly, spouses with a shared profession will better understand the professional challenges the other faces and be more equipped to empathize with the stress, pressures, and demands of practicing medicine. That said, participants in dual-physician marriages may find it more difficult to disconnect from work since they have an ever-present colleague with whom they may be tempted to discuss cases. They may also struggle even more than most to find a manageable work-life balance.

Of course, each dual-physician marriage is unique, however, these married physicians are likely to experience similar obstacles. If you are among the increasing number of physicians married to another physician, you are likely already familiar with the following challenges. Keep reading for some simple steps to address the issues during your next physician job search.    

Married Physician Job Search Challenges

The process of applying for a residency match or first physician job is always stressful, so when you factor in the need to make a second match or find a second physician job, the pressure doubles. The realization that where one’s fate lies, so does the other’s may not set in until the application process begins, when each physician realizes they not only have to worry about their own ability to impress, they are counting on their spouse to perform well also.

An unattached physician can pursue any opportunity that feels right–major metro, rural, academic, private practice, etc. However, married physicians must also consider if their physician spouse will find an acceptable opportunity in that setting. For those searching in a major metro, the problem is less daunting, but for those who want or need to work in a rural setting, perhaps to comply with visa requirements or student loan contingencies, it can be very difficult to secure a second opportunity for a physician spouse. 

Timing presents another challenge. Oftentimes, the married physicians don’t finish their training at the same time, so they may be faced with spending a year or more in different cities. This is especially true when the physician requires a J1 visa. The requirements of the visa will not allow a physician to wait for a spouse to finish training or to secure a job in the same location, leaving the couple with difficult decisions to make. 

Married Physician Job Search Tip:

Working with a national physician recruitment firm and a well-connected physician recruiter is especially important for married physicians seeking new physician jobs. Physician recruiters often know of physician job openings before they are posted or may leverage their network to identify, or even create, an opportunity. 

For example, when Dr. S and his wife, Dr. H, were in their last year of residency in New York, Dr. S applied for a California anesthesiology job through Jackson Physician Search recruiter, Becky Casais. Becky could tell he was a great fit for the job right away, so when she presented him, she was sure to advocate for his wife, an Emergency Medicine physician. She used her connections with her client to find an opportunity with the ER group for his wife, even though they were not planning to hire anyone new. 

While each situation is different, most physician recruiters will advise prioritizing the physician with more specialization. For example, a Family Medicine physician will likely be able to find an opportunity anywhere, but his pediatric cardiologist wife will likely need to be in a major metro. Thus, the cardiologist’s needs should guide the job search. 

Double the Medical School Debt

Another potential difficulty in dual-physician marriages is the heavy student loan debt they both bring to the marriage. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average medical school graduate owes $241,600 in total student loan debt.  So, a two-physician household starts their life together with nearly half a million dollars of debt.   

Seeing as financial issues are one of the top causes of distress in marriage, carrying so much debt can be a source of stress and anxiety for dual-physician couples, even after they start earning six-figure salaries. If both partners aren’t on the same page regarding the priority of paying down the debt, problems will likely surface. 

Married Physician Job Search Tip:

Physicians married to physicians should prioritize loan repayment in job offers. Be upfront with the physician recruiter about the importance of loan assistance, and if possible, the employer may customize the physician job offer to meet your needs. 

Domestic and Dependent Care Challenges

Studies suggest work-life balance is increasingly important to physicians, and yet, a report from The Physicians Foundation found more than half of physicians work more than 50 hours per week, and more than a quarter work more than 60. When both partners have demanding, often high-stakes jobs, the division of non-professional work–childcare, housekeeping, elder care–can be especially problematic. 

Fortunately, two-physician marriages come with two physician incomes, and hiring help for domestic tasks may need to be prioritized right up there with paying off student debt. Outsourcing tasks such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, and even grocery shopping can allow both partners to enjoy their time off rather than feel they are simply changing shifts.   

Married Physician Job Search Tip:

Hiring help may only take a couple so far, and when it comes to childcare, some physicians will only want to outsource so much. For this reason, it is especially important for dual-physician couples to seek out employers that prioritize work-life balance. Physician couples should think through what that looks like to them–whether it’s a four-day workweek, no call on weekends, or more administrative support–and talk to potential employers about those specific needs.

Above all, dual physician couples should start their search even earlier–up to two years before completing their training. If already practicing, flexibility is key. It may take longer than anticipated to find the perfect pair of physician jobs.

Because the physician job search process presents additional challenges to physician couples, a good physician recruiter can advise accordingly. Reach out to the Jackson Physician Search Recruitment team today and start your physician job search. Or, download our physician job search playbook

physician job search tips

Physician Job Search Tips: What I Wish I’d Known About My First Job Search

Studies indicate half of all physicians leave their first job within three years. What can residents and fellows beginning their own job searches learn from their job search mistakes?

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Rural Practice Opportunities Offer Undeniable Benefits for New Physicians and Those Soon-to-be-Retiring

The pandemic has led many physicians to question the next chapter in their lives, and how they’d like to spend it. For some, it appears an early departure towards partial (or even full) retirement is the answer…

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

3 Challenges Female Physicians Face–And How to Overcome Them

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Dr. S pulled her car into the garage at nearly 8 pm. Her husband had relieved the nanny hours ago and likely fed the kids dinner already, but there were still school folders to go through, homework to help with, tomorrow’s lunches to make, and of course, bedtime to contend with. She wasn’t complaining–she enjoyed these tasks of motherhood–but she was just tired.  And of course, there was still charting to do once the kids were in bed. She knew her work as an oncologist was important, as was her job as a mother, but there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to actually enjoy either one. 

Dr. J tried to mask her irritation with her colleagues during their weekly meeting. As an orthopedic surgeon, she was used to being outnumbered by the men in her field, but even after more than a decade of working alongside them, she still didn’t always feel comfortable. The resentment she felt toward her male peers contributed to her discomfort, of course. She repeatedly watched them get invited to speak at conferences and win awards and promotions for which she was just as worthy. She suspected they earned more than her too, but she had no proof. She knew it was best not to dwell on it–just focus on her patients and do her job.  

Dr. B stared blankly at her patient as she considered his comment: “I just think I’d like to hear a male doctor’s opinion, if you don’t mind.” Well, actually she did mind. In fact, she minded a little more each time she heard it–or some variation of the same comment. Hadn’t she gone to medical school just as long as her male peers? Hadn’t she studied just as hard? Worked as many hours in residency? But Dr. B didn’t say any of that. Instead, she left the room and moved onto her next patient. 

Dr. S, Dr. J, and Dr. B are not alone in the challenges they face as female physicians. But for now, they are resolved to keep doing the work despite the difficulties. However, an increasing number of their female peers are not. They are cutting their hours, leaving their jobs, or sometimes leaving the profession altogether. Employers should take steps to better support their female physicians, but female physicians must be proactive in seeking solutions if they hope to enjoy lasting, fulfilling medical careers.

Female Physicians Most Likely to Cut Hours or Leave

According to a recent article from Harvard Business Review, women make up one-third of the physician population, and they outnumber male students in medical school. While female representation is increasing in medicine, the authors suggest women physicians are cutting their hours and leaving the profession in concerning numbers. If the trend continues, the already dire physician shortage will get significantly worse.

So why are women leaving?  What specific challenges are making it so difficult for women to practice medicine? And how can female physicians overcome these challenges? 

The Ever-Elusive Work-Life Balance 

Work-life balance is increasingly important to both genders, and yet, it may be more out of reach for women than men. Physician-focused studies indicate the bulk of the non-professional work at home still falls to women. As a result, female physicians experience more work-family conflict than their male counterparts.

In a small study of how physician parents coped with work-family conflict during the pandemic, the researchers found women were significantly more likely to be responsible for childcare or schooling and household tasks. They were also more likely than men to work primarily from home during the pandemic or to reduce their work hours. Women also reported more depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Of course, the pandemic only magnified a pre-existing problem. Multiple pre-COVID studies point to the difference in time spent on household tasks reported by men and women. A 2019 study published in the National Academy of Medicine found fully employed female physicians spend 8.5 hours per week on childcare and other domestic activities, including caring for elderly parents. Female physicians whose spouses are also fully employed spend an additional 2 hours per day on domestic work. This is three times the amount of time reported by male physicians whose spouses also work. 

How to improve work-life balance?

With so much attention on the importance of work-life balance, many employers are willing to find ways to improve in this area for their physicians, however, they may not know what changes would be most helpful. Now is the time to ask for what you need. Whether it’s a four-day work week, job sharing, reduced call, more administrative support, or incorporating telehealth appointments, your employer is likely willing to try and accommodate you if it means you will stay. That said, if your employer is unable or unwilling to work with you, it may be time to look for a new physician job.  

Fewer Rewards for Female Physicians

A December 2021 study published in Health Affairs found a persistent 25% pay gap between male and female physicians resulted in a $2 million dollar difference in earnings over the course of a medical career. If this pay gap alone wasn’t discouraging, female physicians also feel less involved with decision-making than their male peers. Additionally, women receive fewer awards, are invited to speak less often, and hold fewer leadership roles. Studies suggest the COVID-19 pandemic worsened these disparities.

Women are underrepresented, underpaid, and often disrespected by patients and staff who still don’t think “physician” when they see a woman. According to an article for the AMA, 70% of women physicians reported some form of gender discrimination. Is it any wonder they are leaving their jobs at higher rates than their male colleagues? 

How to achieve equity?

As we indicated earlier, smart employers are more focused than ever on retaining the physicians they have, so now is the time to ask for what you deserve in terms of both compensation and opportunity. These conversations can be tough to navigate, so it’s important to also seek out a seasoned female physician mentor or professional coach for advice. She can also work with you to identify a path to achieving your goals–from speaking engagements to leadership positions to a seat on the board.

Practicing Medicine Takes a Greater Toll on Women

There’s no doubt, that practicing medicine today is not easy for anyone. However, studies indicate the job may take a greater toll on women. Women often spend more time with patients, more time charting, and may experience more empathy for patients than their male peers. While some studies suggest these qualities may result in better outcomes, they can also take a greater toll and lead to higher rates of burnout. 

The previously mentioned article for Harvard Business Review uses the results of a Press Ganey physician engagement study to further explore the experience of female physicians. Women gave lower ratings than men when asked about their staff support, time for patient care, involvement with decision-making, and job stress. Women also reported having more difficulty decompressing when not at work. All of these indicators explain why many female physicians would not choose the career again nor would they recommend it to a prospective medical school student.

How to reduce the pain of practicing medicine?

The solution here ties back to the former points. A flexible schedule and increased administrative support would give physicians more time to decompress and recover from the toll of treating patients. Likewise, a female physician mentor may be helpful in setting an example and advising on how to manage patients in a more sustainable way. 

All of these solutions rely on female physicians finding employers that recognize the unique challenges women face and being willing to make adjustments to overcome them. Female physicians should seek out employers that offer flexibility, transparent compensation models, administrative support, and ideally, have women in leadership positions. 

Women in medicine face multiple challenges, but employers should be more open than ever to making adjustments that will improve retention rates. So think through what you need, and ask for it! Of course, if your employer is unwilling or unable to adapt, it may be time to look for a new physician job. Contact a Jackson Physician Search Recruitment Consultant to discuss your physician job options or start a physician job search now. 

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

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…

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Rural Practice Opportunities Offer Undeniable Benefits for New Physicians and Those Soon-to-be-Retiring

The pandemic has led many physicians to question the next chapter in their lives, and how they’d like to spend it. For some, it appears an early departure towards partial (or even full) retirement is the answer…

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

3 Things to Consider Before Physician Retirement

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Are you one of the many physicians expected to retire soon? According to a 2021 report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), more than two of every five physicians will reach age 65 within 10 years. But of course, retirement isn’t driven by age alone; factors such as physician burnout and decreasing physician job satisfaction are likely to increase an already high volume of physician retirements projected in the coming years.  

Recent data from a Jackson Physician Search and MGMA study supports the claim. In the survey, 43% of physicians said, over the past year, they had considered taking an early retirement and an October 2021 MGMA STAT poll found one in three medical practices saw a physician leave or retire early in 2021 due to burnout

Physicians certainly have reason to feel burned out. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians were dealing with long hours, administrative burdens, lack of autonomy, and productivity pressures. Like so many things, COVID-19 only intensified these existing problems. However, if burnout is the problem, is retirement really the solution? For some, the answer may be “yes,” but before you make this life-changing decision, you may want to ask yourself the following questions and consider a few physician retirement alternatives.  

If My Work Circumstances Improved, Would I Still Want to Retire?

Many of the headlines about physician retirement aren’t focused on an aging physician workforce, but rather, how the stress of COVID-19 and other forces have increased physician burnout, resulting in an unexpected spike in retirements. Is burnout at the root of your retirement plans? If so, would you reconsider if your circumstances improved? 

Consider Dr. J, an Emergency Medicine physician who spent his career working at a Manhattan hospital. He always felt his intense personality was well-suited to the high-stress job, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought the stress to a level even he found impossible to manage. Nevertheless, he powers through each day, triaging patients. Now, at just 54, he is considering retirement. Even if the worst of the pandemic is over, the way he feels about the job and the whole organization has changed. He has given everything to his work, and now, he simply has nothing left to give. 

It’s understandable that Dr. J would feel this way. However, he may be making a decision based on the extreme circumstances of the past two years. Before he ends his career early, it is worth exploring the question, “If my circumstances improved, would I still want to retire?”

Dr. J may feel he’s been through too much to continue with his current employer. Retirement seems like the most logical option. After all, he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and thanks to smart financial planning, it’s a viable option. On the other hand, perhaps Dr. J simply needs time to recover from the trauma he’s endured in recent years. Instead of retirement, his employer may be willing to offer a sabbatical to give him time to rest and reflect on the positive aspects of practicing medicine. Management may also be open to making changes that would improve physician job satisfaction in the department and improve physician retention. 

If your current circumstances are unlikely to improve, it may be time to look for a new physician job–perhaps in a rural location. According to a Rural Physician Recruitment study from Jackson Physician Search and Locum Tenens, “improved work-life balance” is the most common reason rural physicians say they decided to practice rural medicine. Rural physicians are also more likely to say their organization is “patient-focused.” The autonomy, flexibility, and slower pace of life reported by many rural physicians could be exactly what you need to renew your love for practicing medicine.

Alternative #1: Change Your Circumstances / New Physician Job

Approach your manager to discuss your feelings of burnout and propose options for improving current circumstances. If they are unable or unwilling to make changes, you may want to connect with a physician recruiter to learn about other physician jobs that might rekindle your desire to practice. 

Would My Employer Support a Partial Retirement or Other Alternatives to Full Retirement?

According to a 2019 JPS retirement study, only 17% of physicians surveyed said they planned to take a full retirement, and nearly a third said they intended to continue working part-time. In the same study, administrators estimated 40% of their retiring physicians wanted to take full retirement. This indicates a disconnect between what physicians want and what their employers expect. However, in light of the physician shortage, most employers would be happy to take whatever level of work they can get from their physicians. This may be especially true in rural areas.    

Consider Dr. G, a Family Medicine physician who has spent the last 20 years working in a rural hospital treating patients of all ages and ailments. He moved his family to the small community when his kids were young, but now, they’ve grown up and started their careers in bigger cities. As he nears retirement age, he and his wife discuss their plans to travel more and perhaps move to be nearer the kids. He knows it’s time to stop working so much, but is he ready to stop working altogether?

For Dr. G, a partial retirement seems like the ideal option, one that his employer may indeed be willing to entertain. Whether it means simply cutting his hours, job sharing, or adopting telemedicine, Dr. G should initiate a discussion with his employer to discuss how those options might work for them. 

Alternative #2: Part-time Physician Job

Don’t be afraid to approach your employer about your desire to work less. They will likely be happy to hear you want to keep working in some capacity. Start the conversation early and keep an open mind as you discuss your options. If your current employer can’t provide what you need, enlist a national physician recruitment firm to help in your part-time physician job search. 

What Will I Do With My Time Post-Retirement?

Physicians spend countless hours training to practice medicine, and once certified, they often devote 50-60+ hours per week to the job. If anyone has earned the right to put their feet up and relax in retirement, it’s physicians. And yet, this hard-working, high-achieving group often has a difficult time coming to a full stop after devoting so much time and energy to their work for so long. 

Consider Dr. L, as Chief of Surgery at a busy suburban hospital, she can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t working towards a goal–first medical school, then residency and fellowship, her first job, and then slowly climbing the ladder to her current position. She had achieved success at every step of her plan, and the next step, thanks to savvy financial planning, was retirement at 60. By retiring relatively early, Dr. L intends to really enjoy her retirement, but will she succeed with this plan too?

Though Dr. L may not admit it–she may not even be aware of it–it’s likely she holds some unconscious fears about what exactly “enjoying retirement” will look like for her. Before making the decision, she should think through exactly what she will do with her time post-retirement. Perhaps she has a plan for a “second act,” a business venture, teaching opportunity, or non-profit work. However, she might also consider keeping her license active so she can pursue locum tenens assignments or even medical mission work–abroad or in one of the many healthcare deserts across the US. 

Alternative #3: Locum Tenens 

Make sure you know what you need to do to keep your license active in the first years of full retirement. If or when the initial excitement of retirement wanes, you may want to explore locum tenens jobs through our sister company LocumTenens.com

Retirement is a big decision and it’s never too early to start planning. Whether you’ve been dreaming about your retirement for years or you are just starting to think through the idea, a Jackson Physician Search Recruitment Consultant can help you understand your options as you transition to retirement. Contact us today.

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

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…

New Physician works in rural practice opportunity

Rural Practice Opportunities Offer Undeniable Benefits for New Physicians and Those Soon-to-be-Retiring

The pandemic has led many physicians to question the next chapter in their lives, and how they’d like to spend it. For some, it appears an early departure towards partial (or even full) retirement is the answer…

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

Physician Compensation 101: What Residency Didn’t Teach You

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Show me the money. While most physicians don’t go into medicine solely for the high compensation, the six-figure income doesn’t exactly hurt. That said, physician compensation can range significantly depending on a number of factors. A physician’s specialty obviously impacts income, as does geographical location, but what many residents don’t know is how the different types of physician compensation models can also influence income.

Residents spend years learning their profession, but when it comes to getting paid, many have no idea what to expect. Sure, they may have seen average salaries referenced online or heard their attendings talk about what they earn, but as for what part of the compensation is guaranteed versus what is based on production or a percentage of profits–these details aren’t typically shared.

The complexities of physician compensation models could be covered by a semester-long class in medical school. Instead, it is often left to physician recruiters to explain the various nuances of how a physician gets paid–perhaps while presenting a resident with their first offer of employment!

So, in an effort to introduce the concepts earlier in the physician job search process, we present to you this primer on the two primary physician compensation models.

Hospital Employed Physician Compensation Model

According to a 2021 report from consulting firm Avalere Health, 69% of working physicians are employed by hospitals or other corporate entities, a figure accelerating significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These physicians, when first hired by a large healthcare organization or hospital group, typically receive a guaranteed base salary for a set time period (one or two years) and then, presumably after the physician has established enough patients to be productive, compensation shifts to a productivity-based model.

Productivity is measured using wRVUs (work Relative Value Units) which are accrued for every exam or procedure a physician performs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services assign an RVU for each Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code. The more complex the procedure, the greater the corresponding wRVU.

Accrued wRVUs are multiplied by an established dollar amount to calculate how much a physician earns. Some compensation plans offer a sliding scale to incent physicians to accrue more RVUs, that is, to be more productive. For example, the first 4,000 wRVUs are paid at a conversion factor of $40 per RVU, and then, the next 4,001-8,000 wRVUs are paid at $42 per wRVU. The amount employers will pay per wRVU varies, however, Medicare sets the amount they will reimburse per total RVU (total RVU takes into consideration an organization’s expenses and insurance), which is typically lower than what is billed to private insurance. For 2022, the Medicare rate per total RVU is $33.59.

Are you starting to see why a course in med school might be necessary to fully understand physician compensation models? In lieu of that, you can find further details in this Definitive Guide to Physician RVU Compensation from the advisory group Physicians Thrive.

As most physicians are employed by large health systems or hospital groups, it is worth digging into the nuances of wRVU compensation models, but at a high level, here is what you need to know.

Pros

  • The salary guarantee offers stability for new physicians and alleviates the pressure to ramp up in an unreasonable amount of time.
  • Productivity-based compensation gives physicians a sense of control over their income. The harder they work, the more income they will receive.
  • RVU compensation is typically not impacted by how much or how little the organization is able to collect from patients or their insurance companies. The payer mix also does not impact the physician’s income.

Cons

  • wRVUs do not account for time spent on administrative work, meetings, mentoring other physicians, and other tasks without a CPT code.
  • RVU-based compensation can create a culture of competition that prevents physicians from collaborating and supporting each other.
  • Productivity-based physician compensation puts a physician’s focus on the quantity of procedures rather than the quality of care. Some reports suggest this type of compensation is at odds with the movement toward Value Based Care.

Questions to Ask

Is the salary guarantee a minimum base or is it also a cap? That is to say, if a physician exceeds wRVU expectations during the guarantee period, can they receive more than the base salary?

How many wRVUs do most physicians in this practice produce? How does the productivity of physicians here compare to national norms?  

Is there a cap on RVU bonuses? 

Private Practice Physician Compensation Model

“While the percentage of physicians in private practice is waning, it is still an attractive option for many residents, especially those with an interest in business or those who simply want more autonomy in their work,” says Director of Recruiting Katie Moeller. Like hospital-employed physicians, physicians hired by a private practice may also receive a salary guarantee, but the expectation is that the physician will eventually become a partner whose income will be largely tied to the performance of the overall practice. For this reason, physicians want to be sure they are joining a practice that is financially viable.

Private practices, like any business, calculate profitability by deducting expenses from revenue. Profits are then distributed among the partners, perhaps with some percentage paid as bonuses to non-partner physicians.

When interviewing for private practice physician jobs, physicians should look beyond the initial salary offered and focus on the specifics of the track to partnership and the details of how the practice is run, including its expenses. The efficiency of the practice has a direct impact on how much the partners earn, so it is important to ask questions.

Pros

  • Physicians in private practice have a clear view of the factors contributing to their income, that is, the revenue and expenses of the practice. Once a partner, the physician will have some role in influencing those factors in order to increase income.
  • Unlimited income potential. Employed physicians are limited to the hospital’s bonus structure, but as a practice owner, you have the ability to grow your business to the level you need to achieve the income you want.

Cons

  • Research shows that Medicare reimburses physician services billed by hospitals at a higher rate than those billed by independent practices. This is one of many reasons hospitals can afford to pay higher starting salaries.
  • Because Medicare reimburses at a lower rate than private insurers, the practice’s patient mix will impact its profits, and thus, partner income.
  • Practicing medicine is already a stressful job. Physician partners in private practice have the added stress of running a business.

Questions to Ask

As noted, physician compensation will be tied to how well the practice performs, so ask enough questions to gain a full understanding.

How busy is the practice? What is the patient mix?

How effective is the billing department in collecting payment?

What are the overhead costs? How are staff levels determined? What salaries are given to administrators? 

What can I expect to earn as a partner? Are there any opportunities for ancillary income, such as investing in an outpatient surgery center, real estate, or imaging? Is there a “buy-in” cost associated with becoming a partner?

Do all physician owners hold equal shares in the business?

Is there an accelerated track to partnership? 

Are the partners currently considering selling to a hospital or corporate entity? 

Why You Should Do Further Research on Physician Compensation Models 

As residents and fellows enter the physician job search, it is important to have an understanding of physician compensation models. You have invested considerably in training to become a physician, and now that your training is complete, you are more than ready to reap the rewards. However, it can be difficult to weigh employment offers if you don’t have a clear understanding of how physicians are compensated beyond those first years when a minimum is likely guaranteed.

A good physician recruiter has invaluable insight to share with you regarding physician compensation. Physician recruitment firms often have access to proprietary data about physician compensation, bonuses, production, benefits, and time off. They can help you interpret this data to better understand what you can expect depending on your specialty, location, and other circumstances. Physician recruiters can also share what trends they are seeing in the market that may not yet appear in the data.

A physician recruiter can provide a wealth of information to better set your expectations in the beginning and more effectively negotiate your physician contract as your search comes to a close. The more information you have, the more confident you will feel when ultimately making your decision.

If you are embarking on a physician job search, the team at Jackson Physician Search is eager to share our insight with you and ensure you are set up for success. Search physician jobs now or contact us today.

How to Avoid the Top Physician Job Search Mistakes

Physicians make several common mistakes in the job search that can keep them from getting the job they want, or more likely, cause them to take jobs that aren’t a good fit. Find out how to avoid these common physician job search mistakes…

physician job search tips

Physician Job Search Tips: What I Wish I’d Known Before My First Job Search

Studies indicate half of all physicians leave their first job within three years. What can residents and fellows beginning their own physician job searches learn from the job search mistakes of others?

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Physician Job Search Tips: What I Wish I’d Known About My First Job Search

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When Dr. S began his first physician job search, he and his wife knew they wanted to find a position near their families in the Midwest. While searching online, he saw a Primary Care job posting in St. Louis and reached out to the listed contact, Tara Osseck, VP of Recruitment at Jackson Physician Search. 

Tara knew from her first conversation with Dr. S, that he was a great fit for her client, and from what he told her about his priorities, her client would be an ideal employer for him too. But of course, Dr. S had options, and after on-site interviews with multiple organizations, he ultimately went with the organization that made the highest offer. 

Six months later, he reached out to Tara again. He needed help finding a new position.

Dr. S is not the only one. Studies indicate half of all physicians leave their first job within three years. So, what went wrong for Dr. S? And what can residents and fellows beginning their own job searches learn from his mistakes — as well as the job search mistakes of countless other new physicians? 

Start Earlier Than You Think 

Tara Osseck, Regional VP of Recruitment at Jackson Physician Search, cannot stress enough the importance of allowing adequate time for a physician job search. Doctors are in demand, it’s true, but this doesn’t mean the job you want will just be waiting for you at the exact moment you want it. 

“Allow yourself time to pre-assess the market and create a timeline for your search,” Tara says. “I’m always happy to talk to residents and fellows and help them understand what lies ahead. There is a lot to navigate.”

How much time is adequate? The answer varies depending on the specialty and subspecialty, but typically, residents and fellows should begin at least one year prior to finishing training. For those really high-demand specialties, two years is not unreasonable. Some organizations will sign new hires more than a year in advance of their start date.

“I’ve spoken to some very strong candidates who will be finishing in the next few months, but they didn’t make job searching a priority, so they’ve missed out,” says Tara. “Most organizations with a medical staffing plan have already hired from the 2022 class of residents. They are looking ahead to who they need to sign for 2023.” 

There are other reasons to start early as well. Visa candidates must meet rigorous, federally imposed deadlines that, if not attended to, can derail a job search and leave those candidates scrambling.

“We work with a lot of candidates who require J-1 visa waiver support,” says Tara. “I hate to see them settling for a job just so they can get their paperwork filed on time.”  

Define and Prioritize Your Needs

What is most important to you in your first physician job? Compensation, location, scope of practice, work-life balance? Probably, all of the above! Of course, it’s rare to find everything you want in one perfect job. Tara counsels all physicians to prioritize and know what you are willing to compromise on — and what you are not.  

Consider the importance of each of these five areas:

1. Compensation

After years of earning a resident’s salary, physicians may be tempted to simply follow the money, but Tara urges them to look at the whole package. 

“So often they see a big, guaranteed salary or loan forgiveness, and they’re asking, ‘Where do I sign?’” Tara says. “I help them evaluate the whole package by asking ‘What happens after the salary guarantee runs out?’ ‘Are the productivity targets realistic?’ ‘How long do I have to stay if I accept loan forgiveness?’ ‘What if my productivity isn’t matching my guarantee — do I have to pay it back?’”

If the compensation package seems too good to be true, it probably is. Physicians should have some knowledge about the types of physician compensation models and understand the expectations tied to any offer they are considering. Some physicians will quickly discover the trade-off isn’t worth it.

Such was the case for the aforementioned Dr. S. After interviewing with several health systems in a major Midwest Metro, he accepted the highest offer. The money was nice, but he felt like a cog in the wheel of a giant healthcare machine. He learned the hard way that money doesn’t guarantee professional happiness.

2. Location, Location, Location

So, you’ve always dreamed of living in Chicago, or maybe you want to move back to the city where you grew up. It’s normal to have a preferred location, but Tara cautions to keep an open mind.   

“For most physicians, location is the biggest driver of their job search,” she says. “They are so focused on a specific city, but they’ll often find the market is saturated, so their earning potential is not what they hoped.”

Organizations in major metros typically receive more interest in their physician job openings than those in less desirable cities or rural areas. As a result, their offers don’t have to be as competitive as you’ll find elsewhere. Additionally, it may be harder to grow a patient base in a city with 100 other physicians in your same specialty, so the earning potential is not as high. For some physicians, this trade-off is worth it to live in their preferred city. The rest, however, should place a lower priority on location to keep their options open.

3. Scope of Practice

What do you actually want to do day-to-day? A physician’s scope of practice can vary greatly, depending on a number of factors, so it’s important to find an opportunity that aligns with the procedures and services you hope to perform. That said, this too, is an area to keep an open mind. While the recent trend has physicians narrowing their field of specialization, most organizations are seeking physicians who can do it all. 

“The biggest need right now is for physicians who can be flexible and provide a wide scope of practice,” says JPS Director of Recruiting, Katie Moeller. “Sometimes a subspecialization can actually make a candidate less attractive.”

This obviously doesn’t mean your training is worthless, but it does mean you may need to broaden what you are willing to do in order to have more employment options. 

4. Culture

What is most important to you in an organization’s culture? In the recent Rural Physician Recruitment and Staffing Survey from Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com, physicians ranked “physician autonomy” as the most important attribute in an employer, followed by “teamwork” and “patient-focused.” Evaluating these qualities during the physician interview process can be difficult, but good physician recruiters will likely have insight to share about the major employers in their regions.

Once again, the experience of Dr. S provides a learning opportunity. After interviewing with Tara’s client, Dr. S said he felt a good connection with everyone he met and could genuinely see himself working there. Tara was not surprised; based on what he had told her about his values, she was certain her client would be a good fit. She knew from placing other physicians with them, that they treated their physicians with respect and valued their input. However, Dr. S accepted a higher offer from an organization that did not have the same reputation, and of course, we know it did not turn out well.    

5. Work-Life Balance

How much do you want to work? Some physicians are motivated by a productivity-based compensation model and are eager to work as much as possible to maximize their financial success. Others may feel they’ve paid their dues in residency and are ready for a more normal schedule. There are physician jobs for both, but it’s important to know which type aligns with your goals.

“I recently worked with an ENT who responded to my job posting largely because it required minimal call,” Tara says. “He had young kids and felt his schedule as a resident had caused him to miss out on so much. He wanted a job that would allow him to be home at a reasonable time and fully focus on his family. That was his top priority.”

A healthy work-life balance looks different for every physician, but it’s important to know what type of hours will be expected of you in any job you are considering and make sure it aligns with what is best for you and your family. 

Take Advantage of the Resources Available to You

The physician recruiters at Jackson Physician Search have valuable expertise to share about the physician job search process and are more than willing to educate and guide you through it. Not only can they help you with the logistics of what to do and when, but JPS recruiters know their markets inside and out and can offer valuable insight about individual organizations.   

Of course, candidates don’t always follow the advice of recruiters, and many times, they suffer for it. Dr. S surely did, but fortunately, Tara was eventually able to help him secure another interview with her client.   

“I told him he had to trust me this time,” Tara says. “And I needed to know he was serious. He assured me that he would do everything he could to make it work.”

Dr. S was true to his word. He followed Tara’s advice to the letter and soon had another offer from the employer he had originally turned down. This time he happily accepted and continues to thrive with his new organization.  

Of course, not every physician job search mistake can be corrected so easily. So, start your physician job search right with the help of Jackson Physician Search. Contact a Jackson Physician Search recruiter today or download the Physician Job Search Playbook.

How to Avoid the Top Physician Job Search Mistakes

Physicians make several common mistakes in the job search that can keep them from getting the job they want, or more likely, cause them to take jobs that aren’t a good fit. Find out how to avoid these common physician job search mistakes…

physician fellowship

4 Questions to Ask Before You Pursue a Physician Fellowship

An increasing number of physicians finishing residencies are opting to pursue a physician fellowship, allowing them to further specialize their training. However, as we dive deeper into a critical physician shortage, will subspecialization be an asset or a detriment?

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4 Questions to Ask Before You Pursue a Physician Fellowship

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After four years of medical school and three or more years of residency, most physicians are eager to begin practicing. More specifically, they are eager to earn the compensation of a fully trained, practicing physician. However, an increasing number of physicians finishing residencies are opting to pursue a physician fellowship, allowing them to further specialize their training.

According to data from the National Resident Matching Program, 2021 saw more fellowship programs, applications, and appointments than any year since 1993, when the Specialties Matching Services began recording the data. There has been a steady increase since 2001, however, as we dive deeper into a critical physician shortage, will subspecialization be an asset or a detriment?

For some physicians, a fellowship is a non-negotiable requirement of the specialty they have chosen to pursue. However, for others, a fellowship is a way to acquire additional training in a specific area of the field in which they are already trained to practice. It is these physicians who, as they enter their last year of residency, often reach out to the physician recruiters at Jackson Physician Search to gauge their employment options while they consider the pros and cons of extending their training with a physician fellowship.

To help them evaluate the ROI on such an important decision, the physician recruiters at JPS advise them to consider the following four questions.

Will This Fellowship Make Me More Employable?

Jackson Physician Search works with organizations all over the country that are seeking physicians to meet the community demand in their area. As a result, our physician recruiters have a clear view of which types of physicians are most in demand. It obviously varies by location, but as we dive deeper into a physician shortage, more organizations are seeking physicians who can take on a broad case mix and perform a wider range of services.

“The biggest need right now is for physicians who can be flexible and provide a wide scope of practice,” says Director of Recruiting, Katie Moeller. “Sometimes a subspecialization can actually make a candidate less attractive.”

As an example, consider a Family Medicine resident who has spent an additional year training in a Sports Medicine fellowship. Perhaps they are hoping to work primarily with athletes or even find employment with a professional sports team. The reality is, these jobs are few and far between, so this physician has essentially limited their employment options. Even if they are willing to work in a broader practice setting, the fellowship may signal to an employer that the candidate’s ultimate goal is to focus on sports as much as possible, and therefore, perhaps not the best long-term fit.

“I would never say, ‘Don’t pursue a fellowship,’” Katie continues, “But physicians need to do some research and be clear about how it may impact their employability and, of course, their income.”

Will This Fellowship Increase My Income Potential?

There’s no doubt, certain specialties earn significantly higher compensation than others. The latest compensation data from Doximity shows specialized surgeons, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, oncologists etc. can earn two to three times as much as their primary care or general surgery counterparts. Obviously, the opportunity cost of those additional 3+ years of training is more than covered by the high compensation commanded by those specialties.

On the other hand, some fellowships provide a subspecialization that is not as likely to increase income. Consider an internal medicine resident applying to a one-year geriatrics fellowship. The resident knows the population is aging and demand for geriatric medicine will be high. She thinks it is likely to increase her attractiveness as a candidate, but will it increase her income?

The Doximity report indicates geriatrics commands an average compensation slightly below that of an internist or family medicine physician. Looking at this hypothetical situation solely through the lens of income maximization, the physician has sacrificed a year in which they could have earned the compensation of a practicing internist in exchange for training in a field that, on average, pays slightly less than general internal medicine.

Do I Feel Called to Pursue This Type of Medicine?

Income and employability aside, many physicians truly feel called to pursue a specific type of medicine that requires one or more fellowships. If a Pediatric resident who survived childhood cancer feels called to spend their career working with other children fighting cancer, they should certainly pursue a pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship.

Though not always so personal, many medical students and residents feel drawn to pursue a certain scope of practice. This feeling is not to be ignored; however, it shouldn’t trump all other considerations. Physicians should seek advice from a mentor in the field to learn more about the reality of practicing in whatever specialty or subspecialty they are considering. They should also consult with a physician recruiter regarding their job prospects and the types of settings and locations available to those trained in that subspecialization.

Can I Become an Expert in This Area While on the Job?

As discussed, some specialties require a lengthy fellowship, however, if the goal is merely to learn more about a specific area of interest, it may be wiser to find a mentor or practice setting that will allow you to continue your training while on the job. In the case of the internist considering geriatrics, they might be better served finding a practice with a significant population of geriatric patients. In the physician interview process, he should make his interest in this subspecialty known and inquire about finding a mentor within the practice. Similarly, a family medicine resident who wants to incorporate obstetrics into their practice doesn’t always need a fellowship. Rather, they could accept a job with a practice that employs experienced OBGYNs or FM-OBs who are willing (or even eager) to be mentors. By pursuing on-the-job training, these physicians can earn full compensation right out of residency even as they continue their training on a specific area of interest.

Exploring these four questions, and researching to find answers where applicable, can help residents make an informed decision about fellowships. Other points to consider are your personal needs with respect to more years in training, student loan deferment, and the geographical and lifestyle implications of a career in your chosen specialty.

Ultimately, only you can answer the question of whether or not to pursue a fellowship. As always, the Jackson Physician Search recruiters are here to talk with you about your options. Contact a Jackson Physician Search Recruitment Specialist today or download the Physician Job Search Playbook

Physician Job Search Playbook

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…

rural physician

7 Reasons You Might Be Happier in a Rural Physician Job

With a signing bonus used toward loan repayment, flexible schedule, a healthy work-life balance, and an affordable cost of living, rural physician jobs can be an ideal setting for a young physician (or physician couple) to build both a career and a family…

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7 Reasons You Might Be Happier in a Rural Physician Job

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Are you happy in your current physician job? If the answer is “no,” or “not particularly,” you wouldn’t be alone. In a 2021 Medscape survey, less than half of physicians surveyed reported being very or somewhat happy at work. Pre-pandemic, that figure was 79%. While practicing medicine in the US has always had its challenges, clearly, COVID-19 has made conditions even worse. This aligns with a recent survey conducted by Jackson Physician Search and MGMA in which nearly half of physicians said, over the past year, they had considered leaving their employer (48%) or taking early retirement (43%).

Physicians everywhere are reevaluating their professional choices and weighing their current options. For those seeking a better work-life balance, more time with patients, lower cost of living, and potentially higher compensation, one option is increasingly attractive–rural physician jobs. In fact, in a new rural study from Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com, 90% of physicians surveyed said they were open to considering a rural practice opportunity. This is great news for rural healthcare organizations, which are in desperate need of physicians.

The physician shortage in rural areas is nothing new, however, the demand is intensifying. According to reporting done by the AAMC, 20% of the US population lives in rural areas, but only 11% of physicians work there–and that figure may be shrinking. Due to the high volume of impending retirements, the number of practicing rural physicians will decrease by 25% by 2030. Additionally, the number of medical school students from rural areas is steadily declining, meaning the group most likely to practice in rural areas is shrinking.

The need for physicians in rural areas has never been greater, but fortunately, recent circumstances are making rural practice opportunities more appealing than they once seemed. Perhaps due to the impact of COVID-19, physicians are increasingly drawn to opportunities that grant them the autonomy, flexibility, and compensation they desire. Rural health organizations are often in a better position to meet these needs, meaning rural physicians have multiple reasons to be happier at work.

The Benefits of Rural Physician Jobs

Dr. K pulled his sportscar into a parking spot at the West Texas hospital where he has worked for three years now. Admittedly, the small, critical care hospital wasn’t exactly where he had envisioned himself going post-residency, but now, he and his wife, who was also employed by the hospital, couldn’t imagine living and working anywhere else. They are paid well, enjoy a family-friendly community, and their employer gives them the flexibility they need to be involved in the care of their young children. While most of his peers from med school and residency were still drowning in debt and working 60+ hour weeks, he and his wife have paid off the bulk of their loans (thanks to signing bonuses and loan repayment), built the home of their dreams, and still manage to find time for each other, their kids, and their hobbies. He and his wife often wondered why more residents and fellows didn’t seek out rural physician jobs. He wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Dr. K’s story demonstrates several of the benefits of rural physician jobs–a signing bonus used toward loan repayment, flexible schedules, a healthy work-life balance, and an affordable cost of living in a family-friendly community. It appears to be an ideal setting for a young physician (or physician couple) to build both a career and a family.

In the Jackson Physician Search and LocumTenens.com rural whitepaper, physicians practicing in rural areas were asked to reveal the top 5 factors that contributed to their decision to practice rural medicine. Improved work-life balance and higher compensation topped the list, cited by 46% and 44%, respectively. Not far behind was the “affordable cost of living,” cited by 42% of physicians practicing in rural areas.

1. Higher Compensation

In an article for NEJM Career Center, JPS President Tony Stajduhar shared that based on JPS data, physicians practicing in rural areas typically earn between 5% and 10% more than their urban and suburban counterparts. However, this does not account for incentives such as signing bonuses or loan repayment offers that are often used to sweeten the initial offer.

In the JPS and LocumTenens.com study, higher compensation was the most common reason physicians practicing in urban or suburban locations said they would consider rural medicine, cited by 64% of physicians surveyed. However, for those practicing rural medicine, compensation was cited as a reason by 44%.

2. Affordable Cost of Living

Even if the rural physician’s salary is not significantly higher, the lower cost of living in most rural communities can make the salary go much further than it would elsewhere. Especially as housing costs continue to rise all over the country, physicians in rural areas are more likely to find affordable housing than those in metropolitan areas.

3. Family-Friendly Environment

According to the JPS and LocumTenens.com whitepaper, 26% of rural physicians attributed their decision to practice in a rural area to their family’s preference or to their perception that it was a better place for children. Rural physicians are three times as likely to feel they live and work in a family-friendly environment than their suburban counterparts.

4. Work-Life Balance

Improved work-life balance is the most cited reason physicians say they decided to practice rural medicine. Perhaps because of flexible hours, job sharing, or simply a more relaxed work environment, rural physicians have more time to pursue hobbies and personal relationships that often get neglected by busy physicians in urban settings. This could explain why some studies report significantly lower levels of burnout in rural physicians than in their urban counterparts.

As Dr. A prepared for her day in the small, family medicine clinic in northern Idaho, she considered the patients on her schedule. On the job for over a year now, Dr. A was happy to say she recognized most of the names and could even speculate the cause of their visit. Her job as a rural family practitioner was nothing like the one she had left behind at a big, health system in Denver. There, she saw patients on a conveyer belt, never spending more than ten minutes with any of them before moving on to the next. Here, she had time to get to know them, ask about their lives, and help them make decisions that could improve their health. For this, they were grateful, and for the first time in her twenty-year career, she felt professionally fulfilled.

Dr. A’s story is similar to those of many physicians for whom the pandemic caused an awakening about what they did and did not want for their lives–both professionally and personally. Some felt let down by the way their employers handled the early days of the pandemic while others realized life was too short to spend endless hours feeling like a cog in the wheel. Whatever the specific reason, recruitment leaders report seeing an influx of physicians seeking jobs in small towns with a slower pace of life, where they can get back to the business of helping people.

5. More Time with Patients

According to the JPS and LocumTenens.com study, rural physicians are more likely to say their organization is “patient-focused.” The autonomy granted to rural physicians gives them more control over scheduling, meaning if they need more time with patients, they can make it. The lower patient volumes at rural health organizations may allow for more time with patients as well.

6. Professional Fulfillment

While physician job satisfaction is down on average, rural physicians are more likely to find satisfaction and professional fulfillment due to the autonomy, flexibility, and work-life balance often found in rural physician jobs.

Dr. T sat down for a cup of coffee at the hospital cafe after completing his morning surgeries. He’d see patients in clinic this afternoon, but then, he would have four full days off in which he and his wife could explore their new community. He’d spent his whole career working 10 and 12 hour days, 5 or 6 days a week, and he was tired of the constant hustle. Of course, after the last two years, what physician wouldn’t be? And yet, Dr. T still didn’t feel he was quite ready to hang up his white coat. This was one reason the job in the foothills of the Appalachians had been so appealing–the opportunity to work part-time. The fact that he’d also be building the mountain house of his retirement dreams was just an added bonus. It seemed too good to be true. He only wished he’d made the move sooner.

Like many physicians approaching retirement age, Dr. T was hoping to ease into retirement by practicing medicine part-time. According to a 2019 JPS study, only 17% of physicians said they planned to take a full-retirement, and nearly a third said they intended to continue working part-time. Rural healthcare organizations provide an ideal setting for these physicians as they may not have the patient volume to support a full-time physician, or if they do, they are more willing to allow job sharing or make other flexible arrangements to win the candidate over.

7. Flexibility

Due to the severity of the physician shortage in rural areas, rural healthcare organizations are often prepared to offer physicians more flexibility than they will find in other settings. Physicians in every stage of life can appreciate this perk–from those starting a family to those approaching retirement.

The many benefits of rural physician jobs make it easy to see why rural physicians may find more happiness at work. While higher compensation and improved work-life balance are the dominant reasons for considering and deciding to practice rural medicine, other factors such as more time with patients, more autonomy, flexibility, and lower cost of living all contribute to physician satisfaction. As more and more physicians weigh their employment options, there is reason to think you, too, could find what you are looking for in a rural physician job.

If you are seeking an opportunity likely to increase your job satisfaction, consider physician jobs in rural areas. A Jackson Physician Search recruitment team would be happy to speak with you about current rural physician job openings. Contact us today.

Doctors Wanted: Benefits of Practicing Medicine in Rural America

The pandemic has caused some providers to re-evaluate their priorities. If you’re open to giving rural healthcare a go, you might find it to be a much-needed respite…

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

There are several signs that indicate it’s time for a new job. Keep reading to discover if anything listed applies to you, and if so, it’s likely time to explore your options…

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How to Avoid the Top Mistakes Physicians Make During Their Job Search

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Whether you are finishing up residency and searching for your first physician job or you are already working and evaluating new physician job opportunities, your physician job search is bound to present some challenges. While it’s true that physicians are in high demand, employers are still extremely selective. The high costs of sourcing, recruiting, and hiring a physician drive organizations to find physician candidates who are a good fit, both skill-wise and culturally, and are therefore likely to stay in the job long-term.

Fortunately, after applying to medical schools, residency programs, and possibly fellowships, you know how to present yourself and prepare for interviews. Therefore, the traditional job search mistakes likely don’t apply to you. You know better than to have typos in your physician CV; you use complete sentences and proper punctuation when communicating with recruiters and potential employers; you don’t post your personal antics on public social media; you won’t answer “perfectionism” when asked about your biggest weakness. You know all of this, so you may think you can skip over any warnings about common job search mistakes.

However, physicians aren’t infallible. In fact, there are several common mistakes physicians make in the job search that can keep them from getting the job they want, or more likely, cause them to take jobs that aren’t a good fit. Keep reading to find out how to avoid these common physician job search mistakes.

Failing to Plan

Dr. B had thought about this moment a million times over the past two years. Handing his resignation letter to his boss was just as satisfying as he had imagined. He was tired of working 80+ hours a week, the unending administrative tasks, and most of all, the feeling that he had no control over how decisions in the group were made. The pandemic had only made the circumstances worse, and seeing so many people suffer had given him a wake-up call about what he wanted for his life–and this wasn’t it. He wasn’t sure what would come next, but he knew his next physician job would be different. 

Dr. B is not alone. Across the country, overworked and underappreciated physicians are handing in their notices. In a July 2021 whitepaper published by MGMA and Jackson Physician Search, reports nearly half of physicians surveyed said, over the past year, they had considered leaving their employer (48%) or taking early retirement (43%). For those physicians who aren’t in a position to retire, the next step is a physician job search.

The mistake Dr. B has made is entering the job search without a plan. While he may assume he will have plenty of physician job opportunities, he may find the ones available right now are no better than what he has left behind. Under pressure to resume a paycheck, Dr. B may rush into a new physician job that will leave him similarly frustrated.

Burned-out physicians aren’t the only ones who are likely to begin a job search without a plan. Often physicians coming out of residency assume they can contact a recruiter and have offers to evaluate in a matter of a few months. The reality, however, is that residents should allow a minimum of a year for their search. This is because most organizations know it takes time to hire a physician who is not only qualified but who is a good, long-term fit. They project when they might be ready to bring on a newly trained physician, and start the physician search about a year prior. In some cases, the offer will be made, and the contract signed a full year before the start date.

Physician Job Search Tip: Brush up on what a successful physician job search entails with Jackson Physician Search’s Physician Job Search Playbook. Give your job search the same preparation you have given to the other important milestones in your career. After all, its outcome will impact your quality of life for the foreseeable future.

Limiting Your Opportunities

Beginning her third year of pediatric residency, Dr. A was eager to begin her physician job search. She and her husband knew exactly where they wanted to live, and she already had her eye on a prestigious hospital in the city. Of course, she would consider other opportunities in the area, but with all the headlines about the worsening physician shortage, she assumed she would have the advantage.

While Dr. A is allowing adequate time for her job search, she is still setting herself up for disappointment. It’s true that physicians are in high demand, however, this is not necessarily the case for pediatricians in the city she’s chosen. By narrowing her search to one location, she will have limited options and may be competing with hundreds of other new pediatricians who have chosen that particular city.

Dr. A’s mistake is not uncommon. Many physicians focus their job search on one city or one type of institution. Given limited options in the city they’ve chosen, they accept a job that ticks the location box, hardly noticing that it misses the mark on everything else. This partially explains why 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.

Of course, for physicians already practicing in a given city, they may have cause to stay in the area so as to not disrupt the lives of their families. In this case, it is still important to keep an open mind about the size and type of setting you are willing to work in. If applicable, you might also consider extending your commute to accept a rural physician job where the need is likely greater.

Physician Job Search Tip: While it’s normal to have an idea of where you want to live, try to keep an open mind and investigate opportunities outside of your target location. Work with a trusted physician recruiter who will take the time to get to know you and understand what it is you want most in a job. If this recruiter presents you with an opportunity they think will be a good fit, trust their instincts and give it the consideration it deserves.

Ignoring Red Flags

Dr. T left the interview feeling a bit uneasy. Though his interviewer seemed impressed with him as a candidate, she had been openly critical of other physicians in the practice. Come to think of it, she had been fairly negative about the patient population too. Dr. T brushed off the feeling, telling himself this was just how things were. After all, most of his attendings and mentors, when being honest, had some negative things to say about practicing medicine. There would be headaches at any physician job, but he’d be compensated well for his trouble. Just show him where to sign.

Dr. T’s mistake is ignoring red flags during the physician interview process. There are a number of red flags to watch out for–high turnover, insufficient technology, productivity imbalances, and as Dr. T encountered, negativity. Basically, anything that feels “off” should be explored further with smart questions to ask your interviewer.

Another common mistake made by Dr. T is prioritizing income above all else. Yes, competitive physician compensation packages can have candidates–especially residents–dreaming of expensive cars and luxury vacations. However, it is critical to focus on finding a job that satisfies your needs regarding work autonomy, professional respect, and manageable stress levels.

Physician Job Search Tip:  Listen to your instincts. After your physician interview, talk through how it went with your physician recruiter and don’t hold back about any hesitations you felt. Your physician recruiter may know more about the situation or can advise on how best to find out more. Red flags aren’t necessarily a sign that the job is not a good fit, but they do warrant further investigation.

Holding Out for “Perfect”

Dr. N had been planning for this moment since the first day of medical school. She had researched the many professional options available to her as a psychologist, and she knew exactly what she wanted in terms of practice setting, location, compensation package, work culture, and more. With more than a year left in her residency program, she reached out to a physician recruiter with a detailed list of her job needs. She knew it was just a matter of time before she got the call for her dream opportunity. 

Dr. N may be waiting for that call indefinitely. While physicians shouldn’t rush to accept the first offer that comes their way, they must also have realistic expectations about their ideal job opportunity. Whether it’s location or salary or practice setting, it is highly unlikely that you’ll find everything on your wish list in one dream physician job. This is why it’s so important to know what you genuinely need for professional satisfaction and prioritize this over everything else.

Physician Job Search Tip: Make a list of everything you want in a job and then prioritize. If you still are not clear on what is most important, talk to a mentor, ask questions of practicing physicians in your field, or connect with a trusted physician recruiter to help you discern what will have the greatest impact on your physician job satisfaction.  A trusted physician recruiter can help you evaluate job offers and identify what will be the best fit long-term.

One way to avoid these mistakes is by establishing a relationship with a physician recruiter early in your search. Finding a trusted recruitment partner can be the single most effective means for landing your ideal physician opportunity.  A good recruiter has a nationwide reach and a network of healthcare industry contacts that keeps them connected to the best vacancies. Talk to them about what you are looking for and what type of situation suits your personal life and professional goals. Create trust and be honest with them, and they will help you find a job that you may not ever find on your own.

If you are a physician preparing for a job search, talk to the healthcare industry professionals at Jackson Physician Search. Our recruiters have the experience and nationwide network to help you find the opportunity that best fits your personal and professional needs. Contact us today to learn more.

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