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…

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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…

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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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Physician Job Search Playbook

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

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

 

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

 

Try Our Interactive Physician Salary Calculator

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

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

3 Ways JPS Recruiters Simplify Your Job Search

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

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

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

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

 

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

To set yourself up for success in this fresh chapter of your personal and professional life, check out these seven tips every physician should put into practice in the first 90 days of a new role…

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

As a physician, landing a new practice opportunity is cause for 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…

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

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

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

1. Maintain a Focus on Learning and Growth

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

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

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

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

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

3. Earn the Trust of Your Patients

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

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

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

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

4. Build Strong Relationships With Your Colleagues

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

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

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

5. Make the Most of Your Physician Orientation

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

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

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

6. Practice Self-care

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

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

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

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

7. Seek Out a Mentor or Professional Coach

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

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

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

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

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

 

Take Charge of Your Career as a Physician

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Physician Compensation: Ask the Right Questions at the Right Time

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

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

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

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

Structure

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

Incentives

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

Transparency

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

How Location Affects Physician Compensation

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

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

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

Reputable Physician Compensation Data Sources

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

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

Five Resources for Physician Salary Data

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

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Physician Job Search Tips: Six Red Flags to Watch Out for During the Interview

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

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

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

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

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

1. High Turnover

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

2. Negativity

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

3. Productivity Imbalances

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

4. Insufficient Technology

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

5. Unclear Terms

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

6. Vague Answers

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

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

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

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

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Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

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

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

The Physician Job Market is Bright

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

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

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

Avoid the Curse of the First Job

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Physician Jobs

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

Leverage Social Media

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

Visit Online Job Boards

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

Network, Network, Network

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

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The Five Most Important Components of Your Physician CV

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

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

The Five Most Critical Elements of Your Physician CV

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

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

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

Nice to Haves

Other sections you can add, include:

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

The Do’s and Don’ts

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

Always Do These Things

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

Avoid These Pitfalls

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

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

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

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[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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