Physician Career Options: Private Practice vs. Health System Employment


The past decade has seen a significant shift in the percentage of physicians in private practice versus those employed by a health system. According to data from Avalere and reported by the Primary Care Collaborative, 74% of physicians were employed by a hospital or health system in 2022. This figure was up from 69% the previous year, largely due to the accelerating trend of hospitals and health systems acquiring private practices. So what does this trend mean for physicians? Which scenario provides the better physician career option? 

For residents evaluating their physician career choices, it’s important to understand the differences and weigh the pros and cons of both against their specific needs. As Regional VP of Physician Recruitment for Jackson Physician Search’s Midwest Division, I regularly place candidates in jobs with both types of organizations. Many times, the candidate applies to a specific job already knowing his or her preference for a private practice or health system. However, the candidate is sometimes open to both, and after a series of questions, it becomes clear that he or she may be better suited for one over the other. 

Whether I’m working with a resident looking for his or her first physician job or a physician who is considering a job change from one setting to another, I’ll conduct exploratory conversations with them to discover which setting is best suited to their current and future needs. Below you’ll see some of the questions I ask to help them — and potentially you — find the best fit. 

Are you business-minded? Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur?

If the idea of running a business feels like an exciting challenge, you will likely enjoy the partnership track at a private practice. Physician partners in private practice are involved in every aspect of the business. In addition to providing patient care, they must consider budgets, staffing, marketing, and more. As partners, physicians have a say in how the business is run, so if something isn’t working well or they have an idea to increase profitability, they have the potential authority to make a change and reap the benefits. That said, if the change does not have the desired effect, they will directly feel that impact as well. 

While it behooves every physician to have an understanding of the business of healthcare if the idea of running a business is an intimidating prospect and/or you would prefer to focus exclusively on patient care, hospital or health system employment may be a better fit for you. 

What are your immediate physician compensation needs? How important is loan repayment?

Physician compensation models can be complex, and it is important to look at the complete package in order to evaluate different offers fairly. When looking solely at starting salaries, hospitals and health systems typically come in higher, as they often have more capital than private practices. Whichever the setting, however, physicians are expected to offset their salaries with their own productivity. If a new physician fails to offset his or her expenses fully, the organization may expect payment for the difference. This is more common in a private practice setting, but it can happen in hospitals and health systems as well. 

Indeed, income in the early years may be higher with a hospital or health system, but earning potential is greater in the long term with a private practice. This is because, as a partner, your income is based on the group’s profits, and you (and your partners) have the power to grow the business in ways limited only by your own imagination. 

In the 2023 compensation report from Medscape, self-employed physicians reported an average income of approximately 30 thousand dollars higher than that reported by employed physicians. Still, hospitals and health systems may be more attractive to newer physicians due to higher starting salaries and bigger recruitment incentives. Hospitals also typically have more options for loan repayment, especially if the organization has non-profit status.

What kind of work-life balance do you want — now and in the future?

Some physicians feel work-life balance is more attainable in a hospital or health system setting where they can focus on clinical care and have fewer administrative responsibilities. There are also typically more physicians and other providers available to share call duty and provide coverage when taking time off. In a private practice, where physicians’ incomes are directly tied to revenue, physicians may be more motivated and incentivized to work as much as possible to increase revenue, which can have a negative impact on work-life balance

On the other hand, physicians working at a private practice may eventually have more flexibility than their employed peers. As they gain seniority, partners will have the freedom to set their own schedules and take as much time off as they desire — as long as they understand it will directly impact how much they earn.

How important is physician autonomy? 

Past research suggests physicians prioritize autonomy in their work. For example, in a 2022 Rural Physician Recruitment survey, autonomy was the aspect of an employer’s culture that physicians (both urban and rural) cared about most. Other studies on physician burnout suggest a lack of autonomy is one of the primary causes of rising burnout. 

As partners in private practices, physicians have more of a say over all aspects of how the business is run, whereas in a hospital or health system, physicians will always have another entity making policy decisions that may directly impact their compensation and/or how they deliver patient care. For physicians seeking their first jobs, the idea of someone else making those decisions can provide security, but this may change once they’ve gained some experience and industry knowledge. 

Certainly, there are pros and cons to consider in both private practice and health system employment. The security that comes with hospital employment is often attractive to physicians starting out in their careers. Still, it is not unusual for them to seek a change — typically after three to five years of employment. Fortunately, I work with all types of employers, from small private practices to major health systems, from rural FQHCs to larger physician-owned groups. Whatever you envision for your physician career, I am eager to help you find the opportunity that provides the best fit. 

Whether you know your preferred practice setting or are exploring all of your options, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search is eager to assist. We have clients of all types and sizes in every region of the country that are looking for physicians like you. Reach out today to learn more, or start searching for physician jobs online now.

About Tara Osseck

With more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Tara Osseck specializes in matching healthcare organizations with physicians who are a strong fit for the role and the culture. Her healthcare career began as a physician liaison and quickly expanded to include physician recruitment, strategic planning, and business development, working for various hospitals throughout Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri. Based in St. Louis, Osseck leads the firm’s Midwest Division, placing providers across the Midwest and Upper Midwest. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Truman State University and a master’s degree in health care administration and management from The University of Memphis.


On-site Physician Interview Tips: Expectations and Etiquette

Regional VP of Recruitment Neal Waters counsels candidates on the physician interview process, emphasizing the importance of setting a timeline, following basic interview etiquette, and preparing to make a decision…

Medical Resident and Recruiter Take a Leap of Faith and Stick the Landing

Director of Recruiting Katie Moeller perfectly paired a midwestern orthopedic group with an orthopedic surgery resident a full two years before his training will be completed… 

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

On-site Physician Interview Tips: Expectations and Etiquette


Demand for physicians is high, and those beginning a physician job search should feel confident about their prospects. That said, physicians must still treat the physician job search with the respect it deserves, putting in the necessary research and preparation to find the employer and job for which they are best suited. As RVP of Recruiting for Jackson Physician Search’s Eastern Division, my team and I work tirelessly to help physicians understand the job search process and walk them through what is expected each step of the way. 

One aspect of the process that candidates always have questions about is the on-site interview. Candidates conducting their first physician job search may have heard stories from peers about employers rolling out the red carpet for candidates. While this can and does happen to some degree, I always stress to physicians that while yes, they are being recruited, they still have to make a good impression in order to get an offer. That said, candidates should prepare for the interview and treat the process the same as they would if the job market was not in their favor. 

When counseling candidates on the physician interview process, I emphasize the importance of setting a timeline, following basic interview etiquette, and preparing to make a decision. 

Physician Interview Timeline for Residents

For residents embarking on their first physician job search, I advise beginning 18 months to two years before the completion of training, but this is not to say the job search will take that amount of time. On the contrary, it’s not unusual for residents, especially in high-demand specialties, to accept offers with a start date a year or more into the future. So, absolutely start early, but when you are ready to begin interviewing, accept interview invitations from only those opportunities in which you are genuinely interested. On-site interviews are time-consuming for both parties and expensive for the employer, so be judicious with your acceptance. 

While residents may feel like they have endless amounts of time before they need to make a decision, once they begin on-site interviews, the resident’s job search should be nearing its end. I advise candidates to aim to schedule on-site interviews with their top three choices over a condensed time frame — ideally no more than six weeks. This allows candidates to interview with the employers they are most interested in and easily compare each to the other before making an informed decision. The candidate who interviews with one employer in November, a second in February, and a third in March will have a difficult time comparing, and worse, if they decide the November opportunity was ideal, the job is unlikely to still be available in April. 

Of course, even when interviewing over a condensed time period, there are no guarantees that an opportunity will still be available even six weeks later. So, if a candidate really connects with an employer and feels this job meets 80% of his or her criteria, my advice is to accept the offer, even if it means canceling other scheduled interviews. 

Physician Interview Etiquette for All

Once I have assisted a candidate in setting up an on-site physician interview, I will schedule a pre-interview phone call to ensure they know exactly what to expect and what is expected of them. In most cases, I have been to the facility and experienced it in much the same way the candidates will, so I can be very specific about what to expect, who they will meet, and what questions they might have. I also go over what is expected of them, from how to dress to what to bring and what not to say. Some of what I say is obvious, but based on feedback I have received from clients over the years, I have learned not to assume! 

  • Arrive on time. If you have questions about your itinerary, ask them in advance. 
  • Dress professionally. While standards for professional dress have relaxed some over the years, candidates should err on the conservative side. Absolutely no scrubs!
  • Bring printed copies of CVs and a list of references. This makes it easy for interviewers to ask questions about your education and experience and shows enthusiasm for the opportunity.
  • Ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate you have done some research on the organization and the role it serves in the community. 
  • Be respectful and kind to everyone you meet, from the C-suite to the support staff. 
  • Think before you speak. Candidates must be self-aware enough not to speak or react in ways that may insult the interviewer. For example, if the facility’s equipment is older or less impressive than what you are used to, there is no need to comment. However, you should provide that feedback to your recruiter later. 
  • Do not discuss other opportunities or offers you may have. Employers know physicians are in high demand, and they assume you have options. 
  • In social situations, take cues from your peers. If other physicians are ordering a beer or a glass of wine, it is okay to do the same. However, practice moderation and use good judgment. 

Preparing to Make a Decision Post-Physician Interview

If an employer is impressed with a candidate, they are likely to extend an offer quickly, so candidates should be prepared to make a decision. For some, accepting an offer without exploring other options will be unthinkable, and that’s okay as long as they recognize the opportunity may not wait for them. 

Still, others may feel ready to move forward, but if they want to have an attorney review the physician contract, this can slow things down considerably. Before interviews, I ask candidates if they plan to involve an attorney. If the answer is yes, I advise them to go ahead and identify who they plan to hire and gain a commitment from the attorney to review and provide feedback quickly. I also remind them that attorneys will always find something objectionable, and they must decide for themselves if it is worth challenging. 

Most importantly, I counsel candidates to prepare themselves to make decisions and avoid “paralysis by analysis.” There is no such thing as a perfect job, and candidates searching for opportunities that match 100% of their criteria will find themselves waiting for something that is unlikely to come. Physicians are trained in decision-making, and when it comes to job opportunities, they must trust their instincts and be prepared to say “yes” or “no” without hesitation or regret. 

The on-site physician interview is an intense experience designed to give both employer and candidate a chance to get to know each other and determine if there is a good fit. With our guidance, physicians will know exactly what to expect at their interview and can prepare accordingly. 

Whether you are a resident seeking your first physician job or an established physician pursuing a new challenge, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search can help you assess the physician job market in your target location and prepare you for the next steps. Reach out today or start your physician job search online now.

About Neal Waters

Neal’s career began in retained physician search more than 15 years ago. Early on, he recognized the strain that an entire community feels when there is a shortage of physicians to meet patient demand. Since his first successful placement, Neal’s passion for identifying the best providers for each healthcare organization with which he recruits has grown.

Neal serves as Regional Vice President of Recruiting. In his role, he serves as a mentor to a growing team of Jackson Physician Search recruiters. He also enjoys collaborating with in-house recruiters who are dedicated to optimizing their physician recruitment and candidate acquisition strategies. Likewise, Neal specializes in helping physicians — especially residents and those early in their careers — advance their professional careers by finding the right fit.


Job Search Considerations for Psychiatrists and Other Mental Health Providers

With an abundance of mental health job options available, the psychiatrist who has a clear understanding of what he or she wants in a job will be better equipped to focus his or her search and increase the likelihood of finding a good long-term fit…

Medical Resident and Recruiter Take a Leap of Faith and Stick the Landing

Director of Recruiting Katie Moeller perfectly paired a midwestern orthopedic group with an orthopedic surgery resident a full two years before his training will be complete… 

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

Job Search Considerations for Psychiatrists and Other Mental Health Providers


With just one year left of her psychiatry residency, Dr. P. knows it’s time to start laying the groundwork for her psychiatry job search. She realizes that psychiatrists are in high demand, but of course, she doesn’t want to accept just any job. She has scrolled through enough psychiatry job boards to know that the options are plentiful, but how should she focus her psychiatry job search to ensure it’s a good long-term fit? And how can a physician recruiter assist her in her search?

As a Regional Vice President of Recruiting for Jackson Physician Search, Western Division, I regularly receive inquiries like this from proactive residents starting their job searches. I always congratulate them for starting early and encourage them to take the time to carefully consider what they are looking for in their first physician job. Psychiatry is a specialty in high demand, and while job opportunities may be plentiful for providers like Dr. P, it’s still important to conduct a thorough search to find the best job for her needs.

With an abundance of mental health job options available, the psychiatrist who has a clear understanding of what he or she wants in a job will be better equipped to focus his or her search and increase the likelihood of finding a good long-term fit. Psychiatrists and other mental health providers must carefully consider several factors such as practice setting, the patient populations and conditions they are most interested in treating, and of course, what kind of work-life balance they need to maintain their own mental well-being.  

An Abundance of Mental Health Jobs

 The demand for mental health providers, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and advanced practice providers, has been increasing steadily due to the rising rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. At Jackson Physician Search, as highlighted in our recent whitepaper on Physician Recruitment Trends, we have seen a significant uptick in the demand for mental health providers. Our mental health placements–including psychiatrists, psychologists, and advanced practice providers specializing in mental health–increased by 85% from 2020 to 2022.

The need for psychiatrists is increasing, but the number of psychiatrists in the market is not keeping pace. In fact, physician age demographics suggest it may be shrinking. According to the AAMC, in 2021, 61.6% of active psychiatrists were over the age of 55. So, more than six in ten psychiatrists will reach retirement age in the next eight years. The incoming wave of psychiatrist retirements, coupled with increasing mental health issues, suggest demand for mental health providers will remain strong.  

Takeaway: There will be no shortage of job opportunities for mental health providers. Knowing what kind of job you want will help you to narrow your focus so you can find the mental health job that suits you best. 

In-Person or Telehealth Mental Health Jobs?

Like most specialists, psychiatrists and other mental health providers have the flexibility to practice in a variety of settings such as, inpatient hospital jobs, outpatient clinics, telehealth, schools, assisted living facilities, addiction medicine centers, and more. Unlike most other specialties, however, a great deal of patient care can be delivered via phone or video call.

While telehealth was possible pre-pandemic, the COVID-19 shutdown increased adoption at unprecedented rates. This was especially true in psychiatry and radiology. Even as most physician offices re-opened for in-person visits, many psychiatrists opted to stay “virtual.” In many cases, telehealth is more convenient for both doctors and patients. However, hospitals still require in-person evaluations by psychiatrists, and some patients still prefer to see a psychiatrist face-to-face. As a recruiter, I often encounter candidates who exclusively want to work via telehealth, which can further narrow an already shrinking candidate pool and increases the demand for those willing to work in a traditional setting.

Takeaway: Decide early if you prefer to work remotely or in-person. If you are willing to work in-person, what is your preferred practice setting? Once you know what you want, you can pursue those opportunities that interest you. Because demand for in-person providers is so high, many organizations are willing to compromise on compensation and/or flexibility in order to secure an in-person psychiatrist. 

Work-Life Balance for Mental Health Providers

While an increasing volume of mental health patients offers job security, it also means psychiatry jobs can be extremely demanding, depending on the expectations of the employer as well as one’s own productivity goals. Psychiatrists who pack in as many patients as possible may earn higher incomes but at what cost to their own mental health? 

Physician burnout is increasing among physicians of all specialties. In a 2022 joint Jackson Physician Search and MGMA study, 65% of physicians reported having feelings of burnout, compared to 61% in the 2021 survey. Of those who reported feelings of burnout in 2022, 75% said their burnout was worse than it had been the previous year. 

While psychiatrists are not among the specialists reporting the highest levels of burnout, their levels of burnout are increasing. In Medscape’s annual survey on physician burnout, the percentage of psychiatrists reporting feelings of burnout increased from 35% in the 2020 report to 47% in 2023

In addition to the typical causes of physician burnout–administrative burden, long hours, lack of autonomy, etc.–psychiatry and other mental health jobs can be especially taxing emotionally, so it’s important to set boundaries with employers that protect your work-life balance and allow time for self-care.

Takeaway: When evaluating mental health job options, consider the culture of the organization and what priority it places on provider mental health. Because mental health providers are in such high demand, most employers will be as flexible as possible to meet your needs. A four-day work week, seven on/seven off, or even three weeks per month are not unusual schedules for psychiatrists.   

It is an exciting time to enter the mental health field as jobs abound and patients have never been in greater need. However, with multiple options to consider, psychiatrists and other mental health providers need to weigh several factors carefully when searching for a job. Beyond the standard considerations such as location, compensation, practice setting, and organizational culture, psychiatrists may have more options to choose from, such as remote work, schedule flexibility, and expanded scope of practice. Choices are currently abundant for mental health providers, and with the right planning and foresight, there’s no reason you can’t find a psychiatry job that meets your needs.

Whether you are a resident seeking your first psychiatry job or an established mental health provider pursuing the next step in your career, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search can help you assess the mental health job market in your target location and help you determine next steps. Reach out today or start your psychiatry job search online now.

About Helen Falkner

As the daughter of a physician, and an Iowa native, Helen has witnessed firsthand the impact that a great physician can have on a community. She joined Jackson Physician Search at the company’s headquarters in Alpharetta, GA as an entry-level Research Consultant in 2012. Through her consistent success as both an individual contributor and manager, Falkner progressed quickly to Partner in 2018 and assumed her role as Regional Vice President of Recruiting for JPS’s Western Division in October of 2020. In January 2021, she relocated to the firm’s Denver office and leads a team of successful physician recruiters while actively continuing to recruit for her clients.


Physician Recruiter Secures Two Job Offers for Homesick Psychiatric NP

When a psychiatric nurse practitioner working on the west coast grew homesick, she took to the web to find for mental health jobs back east. While the job boards came up short, recruiter Sally Ann found not one but two jobs to suit her needs.

Psychiatrist Trusts Physician Recruiter with Professional and Personal Future

After a difficult journey, one psychiatrist was hesitant to pursue a job opportunity that recruiter Tara Osseck knew was perfect for her. Tara built trust with the candidate and ultimately guided her back to where she knew she belonged… 

Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

Medical Resident and Physician Recruiter Take a Leap of Faith and Stick the Landing


Though he still had a year of residency ahead of him and a fellowship, too, Dr. A. decided it was never too early to enter the preliminary stages of his first physician job search. He had begun to browse physician job boards as a way of pre-assessing the job market for orthopedic surgeons when Dr. A saw Director of Recruiting Katie Moeller’s ad for an Orthopedic Total Joint surgeon at a private orthopedic group in Illinois. Despite being an orthopedic surgery resident planning to pursue a spine surgery fellowship, he was immediately intrigued.

An Orthopedic Group With a Lot to Offer

In Katie’s physician job description, Dr. A noticed all the benefits the organization was offering, including autonomy, a flexible schedule, growth opportunities, and a fast track to partnership–all in a family-friendly, midwestern community. The group also exclusively served the two hospitals in the region, so its profitability was well-established. 

Dr. A was not exactly the target audience for the total joint job ad, but he liked what the employer was offering, and the small midwestern community sounded just right for his young family. He decided to reach out to Katie to express his interest in a future opportunity with the organization.

Planning for the Future

Katie could immediately see that Dr. A could be a great fit for the group. He was confident, down to earth, and eager to put down roots in the area. His time in the military gave him more (and different) experience than most residents, which Katie thought her client would appreciate. She knew the organization had plans to expand and decided to see if they would want (and be able) to secure an Orthopedic Spine surgeon for a start date nearly two years in the future. 

The CEO was extremely interested in talking to Dr. A. The group’s medical staffing plan had them hiring a spine surgeon by 2024, so if Dr. A was a good fit, they would be working ahead of schedule. After several phone conversations, the CEO invited Dr. A for an interview and insisted he bring his family so they could also gain a sense of the community. 

The visit was a huge success. Dr. A impressed all of the partners, and his family was made to feel right at home by the other physicians and their families. The CEO also introduced his family to Dr. A’s, and with kids of similar ages, the families instantly hit it off.  

Crafting a Competitive Offer

Katie knew Orthopedic Spine surgeons were in high demand, so when the client shared how much they wanted to hire Dr. A, she let them know that they would need to make a highly competitive offer if they hoped to gain his commitment now. 

The CEO went to one of the hospitals with a bold ask–would they be willing to provide a competitive salary guarantee for Dr. A’s first two years? After that, if all went well, he would be a partner earning as much or more than his initial salary. 

When Katie conveyed the news to Dr. A, he understood just how unbelievable the offer was and was thrilled to sign the contract. 

Successful Leaps of Faith

Dr. A was proactive and took a chance when he contacted Katie as a final-year medical resident pursuing a fellowship in a different specialty than she was looking to hire for, and it paid off. 

Thanks to Katie’s open mind, industry knowledge, and close partnership with the organization, she was able to recognize the compatibility and mutual needs between Dr. A and the orthopedic group. When Katie helped the CEO recognize this as well, he went out on a limb to secure Dr. A, and now the two parties can rest easy for the next two years. 

Whether you are a resident searching for your first physician job or an experienced physician seeking a change, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search is eager to help. We work with organizations large and small across the country seeking physicians in every kind of practice setting. Reach out today to learn how we can assist your job search, or get started now by searching for physician jobs online.

Physician Retirement Trends: Easing Into The Next Stage 

So, how do physicians want to retire? The new report, “Preparing for the Wave of Physician Retirements,” reveals what today’s physicians want for their future retirements.


Timeline of a Resident’s Job Search

Most recruiters will advise residents to begin their search 12-24 months before completing training. However, starting early may improve the odds of finding a job in which you will want to stay.


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Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

Timeline of a Resident’s Job Search


If you are among the group of future physicians entering or already in residency, the fast-paced, all-consuming nature of it can leave you with little time to think about where all your hard work is leading — or, more importantly, where you want it to take you. Therefore, residents must make the first physician job search an ongoing priority to ensure the light at the end of the residency tunnel is a destination of your own choosing.    

So, do new residents need to start the job search tomorrow? Most recruiters will advise residents to begin their search 12-24 months before completing training. However, starting early may improve the odds of finding a job in which you will want to stay. Studies show that half of all physicians leave their first jobs within five years, and half of that group leaves during the first two. If residents stick to the following timeline (based on a three-year residency), they will surely find themselves with more choices than they would have otherwise. It also means they will have ample time to learn what they ideally want from an employer and find a job that meets those needs. 

Resident Job Search Tasks in the First Year(s)

Pre-assess the Physician Job Market

For new residents, the first step in a physician job search is simply researching the market. Anyone with an eye on healthcare headlines knows that staffing shortages continue to plague the industry. While some regions struggle more than others, physicians and other healthcare providers are in high demand nationwide. 

This knowledge should give you confidence about your future physician job search (and future job security). However, this doesn’t mean the physician job search is easy or that circumstances are the same for every specialty and in every location. They are not. A recent report from Jackson Physician Search uses our 2022 placement data and observations from several recruitment leaders to identify physician hiring trends in the marketplace. According to the report, primary care physicians see the greatest demand, along with specialists who are willing to treat broad panels of patients. Rural healthcare organizations have more urgent needs than organizations in urban and suburban areas. 

Of course, we may see trends shift slightly or change altogether before you move on to the more active stages of your search, but now is the time to find credible sources on the subject and start paying attention.

Identify Your Priorities

Now is the time to consider what matters most in your first physician job. Compensation and location are obviously important, but where does work-life balance fit in? What about culture, the scope of practice, and growth opportunities? Of course, you want it all, but you need to consider where you are willing to compromise. Talk to attending physicians about their lifestyles and what they like and dislike about their jobs. What are the things they wish they had known when they were searching for their first physician jobs? 

Reach Out to a Recruiter

Introduce yourself to a respected physician recruiter and ask them what to expect in each stage of the search. He or she can provide details on a typical job search timeline for your specialty and answer questions about the physician interview process, physician compensation models, or physician employment contracts

If you have determined that location is a priority, ask the recruiter about the job market in your preferred city. If you have any special circumstances, such as a visa requirement or a physician spouse who will also be applying to jobs, share this with the recruiter and ask for advice. Physician recruiters are usually happy to connect with residents and answer questions about what lies ahead. Don’t hesitate to reach out — by phone, email, or LinkedIn — and ask for advice. 

Resident Job Search Tasks in the Second Year 

Browse Physician Job Boards

You may not be ready to apply to physician jobs just yet, but it’s a good time to start browsing physician job boards for jobs in your specialty in the locations of interest to you. This helps you to assess the market and set realistic expectations. Set up job alerts for jobs matching your specific search criteria. If a job or employer seems particularly perfect — and your specialty is in high demand — it may be worth sending the recruiter an email expressing interest. 

Gather Documents

Before you begin applying to physician jobs, you need a polished CV, a targeted cover letter (that will be tailored to specific jobs), and a list of professional references who have agreed to serve as your reference. Once you have these three things prepared and perfected, you are ready to start actively applying for physician jobs.

Resident Job Search Tasks in the Final Year

Reconnect with a Recruiter

Now is the time to reconnect with any recruiters you may have introduced yourself to over the years. Let him or her know that you will complete your training in 12 months and are actively searching for a job. Talk to them about what you are looking for, and be clear about what is a must-have versus a nice-to-have. Be open to his or her feedback. If they suggest a location or type of organization you had not previously considered, it is likely because it aligns with what you have said is important to you. Keep an open mind.  

Browse and Submit

Remember those job alerts you set up last year? It’s time to start paying attention. Tweak your search parameters if needed, and when a job arrives in your inbox, that seems to match 70% of what you want, go ahead and express your interest. By applying, you are not promising to attend an on-site interview; you simply agree to have a conversation in which you will learn more about the opportunity.

Attend On-Site Visits

Ideally, by the third or fourth month of your final year, you have scheduled or even attended several on-site visits with potential employers. You may have even found an organization that seems like a good fit. Make sure when you visit an organization, you have an opportunity to meet not only the administration but your potential colleagues as well. Look for red flags, and don’t be afraid to ask direct questions to reveal more about the organization’s culture. You’ll also want to explore the community, perhaps with a realtor, but also on your own. If dining and shopping are important to you, spend some time downtown. If you enjoy the outdoors, ask someone to direct you to the nearest park or popular hiking spots.  

Understand Your Contract

When an organization extends an offer, you’ll want to work with your physician recruiter to understand and perhaps negotiate the terms. Before signing any physician employment contract, you may want an attorney to review it. You will address any concerns through your recruiter.

Licensing and Credentialing

Signing the contract feels like it should be the last step, and yet, it can take several months to obtain a medical license with the state, and then, you still need credentials for the specific hospital. The process won’t be labor intensive for you, but it will take time — time you must allow for when setting your job search timeline. Ideally, you are signing a contract in March if you hope to start your job in July. 

A Resident’s Job Search Starts Today

Each resident will have a slightly different timeline than what is outlined here, but let this be a guide for the stages of your search, and if nothing else, take away this — it is never too early to begin your first physician job search. From the time you begin your residency, consider yourself in the research stage. Learn about the market, discover your own priorities, and ask questions of physicians in various stages of their careers. 

If you are conducting ongoing job search research, you will likely know when it is time to begin the other job search tasks, such as reaching out to a recruiter, preparing your CV and other materials, and setting up an online job search. Those who know what to expect and are prepared for the search will ultimately have more options available to them and have a greater chance of finding a first physician job that meets their needs. 

If you are in any stage of residency and have questions about what lies ahead, the recruiters at Jackson Physician Search would love to hear from you. Reach out today for insights about the market and what to expect in your search. We also recommend you download the Physician Job Search Playbook, and when you’re ready, start searching for physician jobs online.

physician job search tips

First Physician Job Search: What I Wish I’d Known

Studies indicate half of all physicians leave their first physician jobs well before five years. So what can residents learn from their mistakes?

First Physician Job Search Tips for Residents

The first physician job search can be overwhelming. Even though physicians are in high demand, there is a lot to navigate. Find out what new residents can do today to better prepare them for their future search…

Start Your Job Search

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Recruiter Helps Resident Find the Trifecta of Physician Jobs: J-1 Visa Sponsorship, Work-life Balance, and Loan Repayment


Beginning his final year of residency in Alabama, Dr. A was getting serious about his first physician job search. He needed to find an employer willing to sponsor his J-1 visa waiver, so he had to allow plenty of time as his options would be more limited. Even though his job options might be fewer than his fellow residents, he didn’t want to sacrifice work-life balance and much-needed loan repayment. He felt like he was looking for the perfect trifecta! Also, after visiting friends in coastal Mississippi, he loved the idea of living there and began to browse physician job boards with an eye for job postings in that area. 

Jackson Physician Search Search Consultant Cori Centerino was searching for a Family Medicine physician for her client, a multi-specialty group located on the coast. The mission-minded organization needed a physician to start as soon as possible. Cori prepared her client for a wait — the average time to fill a Family Medicine physician job nationally is more than seven months — but she was confident that with time she would find the right candidate.

An Attractive First Physician Job

Cori crafted a physician job posting highlighting what she knew to be the most attractive features of the job. In addition to the coastal location, the role was 100% outpatient with the flexibility to choose between a four, four and a half, or five-day work week. The job would be ideal for a physician prioritizing work-life balance. It also came with a signing bonus and, potentially, loan repayment. 

As it turned out, these qualities were exactly what caught Dr. A’s attention. After several years of an intense residency, finding a job that allowed a healthy work-life balance was extremely important to Dr. A (and his wife). The fact that the organization provided care to an underserved patient population was also appealing to him. 

An Organization Willing to Wait

When Dr. A reached out in response to Cori’s ad in June, she knew right away that he was a good fit, but both worried that the resident’s timeline was too long. As a resident, he would only be available to start after completing his training the following year. Still, Cori spoke to her client about him, and while the need was indeed urgent, they were willing to wait for the right candidate. The client called Dr. A for a phone interview and then invited him to visit the organization for an on-site interview.   

It was a few months before Dr. A and his wife were able to plan a visit, but when they did, they were blown away by the comfort and kindness they experienced. Dr. A hit it off with his potential colleagues, and both he and his wife liked the town. He didn’t want to rush into a decision but understood this opportunity was the trifecta he was hoping to find. 

“He wanted to be sure that he was making the right decision for the long run,” explains Cori. “I wanted to give him the time and space he needed while still conveying the urgency of my client. It was a delicate balance.”

An Ideal First Physician Job 

Ultimately, Cori’s dedication to helping Dr. A find a job that not only met his needs, but would also be one he could be happy with for years to come paid off. He signed a contract in early November with a commitment to starting with the clinic after the completion of his training. For Dr. A, the coastal location and flexibility were attractive. Still, it was the organization’s willingness to sponsor his J-1 visa waiver and, over time, pay off his student loans that made the decision right for him and his wife. It’s not every day a resident finds a job that checks every box. He appreciated that Cori did not pressure him to decide before he was ready, and instead put his needs first. This allowed him to explore his options and discover for himself that he had indeed found the perfect physician job. 

Whether you are a resident searching for your first physician job or an experienced physician seeking a change, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search is eager to help. We work with organizations large and small across the country seeking physicians in every kind of practice setting. Reach out today to learn how we can assist your job search, or get started now by searching for physician jobs online.

Hiring Trends to Inform Your Physician Job Search

Is demand high for your specialty or subspecialty? What can you expect from employers trying to attract candidates? Keep reading for a look at recent physician hiring trends, as observed by the Jackson Physician Search Regional VPs.

Improving Physician Work-Life Balance

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First Physician Job Search Tips for Residents


With Match Day quickly approaching, soon-to-be medical residents around the country are looking forward to having the next stage of their lives settled. While some will have their hearts set on a specific residency program, many will be relieved to have a better idea of what the next few years of their lives will look like. However, depending on the length of residency (and possibly, fellowship), it likely won’t be long before they must begin the search process again — this time for their first physician jobs. 

The cycle of applications, interviews, and waiting for acceptances (or rejections) is a constant in the life of a med student. Since high school, they have worked hard to present impressive applications and references — first to a university, next to medical school, and then to residency programs. The bad news for residents is that this process is far from over. The good news is that the experience gained applying to med schools and residency programs have largely prepared them for the physician job search. 

Of course, new residents will want a break from the search and apply process, however, don’t wait too long before beginning to think about your next steps. It’s never too early to start the search for your first physician job. Ease into it by considering the following:

Visualize Your Physician Career and Establish Priorities

What is most important to you in a physician job? How do you want your physician career to develop over the next five or ten years? How involved do you hope to be in your home and family life? That is, how important is work-life balance? As you progress through your residency, pay attention to what parts of the job you enjoy and ask questions of your attendings about what they like and dislike about their jobs. 

Industry experts estimate that half of the physicians coming out of residency spend less than five years in their first job, and half of that group walks away within just two years. One could argue these physicians simply change their minds about what they want in a job, but many may never have considered what was most important to them personally and professionally. Instead, they applied to physician job ads featuring the qualities best known for attracting candidates — namely, above-average compensation and/or big signing bonuses. Money can certainly catch the eye, but it does not guarantee the physician job will be a good fit for every candidate.

Of course, if you don’t know what’s most important to you in your first physician job, it is very easy to be drawn to what is important to the masses — money — and studies show the happiest physicians are not always the ones earning the most money.  

Prepare Physician Job Search Materials 

Before you begin searching and applying to jobs, you need to spend some time preparing and polishing the following physician job search materials: a comprehensive physician CV, a thoughtful cover letter (that can be tailored for a specific job), and a list of people (and their contact details) who have committed to giving you an enthusiastic recommendation. 

Don’t wait to prepare these documents until you find the perfect physician job posting. Instead, spend some time perfecting your CV, crafting a cover letter, and reaching out to potential references so that you are ready to apply as soon as you find a physician job posting that seems like a good match. 

Establish a Relationship with a Physician Recruiter

Even if you are not quite ready to begin applying to physician jobs, reach out to a physician recruiter to discuss any questions you have about the physician job search process. A knowledgeable physician recruiter will share what he or she knows about the current market for your specialty and help set your expectations about compensation, timeline, and more.   

While physicians are in high demand, this doesn’t mean the first physician job search is easy. There is a lot to navigate, and residents should allow at least a year, if not more, in order to have time to adequately evaluate opportunities. 

If you are a resident with questions about what lies ahead, contact a Jackson Physician Search recruiter today. We also recommend you download the Physician Job Search Playbook, and when you’re ready, start searching for physician jobs online.

physician job search tips

First Physician Job Search: What I Wish I’d Known

Studies indicate half of all physicians leave their first physician jobs well before five years. What can residents learn from their mistakes?

5 Physician Contract Considerations

The contract terms acceptable to one physician may be out of the question for another, but every physician should consider the following when evaluating a physician employment contract…

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5 Physician Employment Contract Considerations


After a full year of searching for her first hospitalist job, Dr. M was thrilled to have an offer from a health system in a major California metro. It was everything she had hoped to find. The compensation was competitive, the culture was patient-centered, and the schedule was flexible. She had verbally accepted the offer at the end of her on-site visit, but a week later, contract in hand, her parents — and their attorney — were cautioning her not to sign it. She had reviewed the points of contention and understood the concerns. However, she also knew from her recruiter that the health system did not alter certain aspects of the physician employment contract under any circumstances. The attorney advised against signing the contract unless all the adjustments he advised were made, but she truly feels this is otherwise the job of her dreams. 

Dr. M is in an incredibly difficult situation. Her parents and attorney feel that some phrases included in the contract leave her vulnerable. However, the recruiter she’s working with has already told her that the organization has historically not been willing to change this language. Does she walk away from an otherwise perfect opportunity? 

The answer, of course, is highly personal, and Dr. M will have to make it for herself, just like any physician presented with a contract of employment. The terms acceptable to one physician may be out of the question for another, but every physician should consider the following when evaluating a physician employment contract.  

1. Do your research.

Whether you are a resident searching for your first physician job or a mid- to late-career physician looking for a new opportunity, it’s a good idea to do some research about physician contracts today.

The American Medical Association’s “Making the Rounds” podcast has a series of six episodes covering everything from letters of intent and compensation to termination clauses and liability insurance. The series features guidance from AMA Senior Attorney Wes Cleveland and touches on every aspect of the physician employment contract. A recent article summarizes the highlights.

2. Know what matters most.

Director of Recruiting Katie Moeller advises residents to get familiar with physician contracts even before they have an offer in hand.

“I tell new physicians to talk to their mentors and ask questions about how their contracts are structured,” she says. “Ask them about what aspects of their contracts have the greatest impact on how they work day-to-day, so they know what to expect and what matters most.”  

If this is not your first job search, ask yourself what, if any, part of your last contract led to dissatisfaction on the job. Talk to a recruiter about those issues, so he or she can advise on what type of employer may offer a contract that is a better fit. 

3. Understand what is in the contract. 

Once you have an offer in hand, read it! Know what your obligations are (number of hours worked, availability, call commitments, administrative duties, etc.) and what you can expect in return (base salary, bonus potential, PTO, benefits, etc.) If there are gray areas or you don’t understand some of the terms, ask your recruiter if they can help connect you with leadership at the hospital/practice for further discussion. 

4. Get input from a trusted advisor.

The contract may be fairly straightforward, but it is still a good idea to have someone you trust review it and offer feedback. This could be a mentor, a parent, a spouse, or even an attorney. Katie Moeller says it’s a good idea for candidates to seek the opinion of someone they trust; however, she encourages them to think for themselves. 

“A parent, spouse, or attorney may get hung up on something that is boilerplate/template language or is fairly standard in the industry,” Katie says. “So, I advise candidates to trust their instincts and consider the situation as a whole. If the hospital/practice you hope to sign with tells you they are unable to change certain contract language, the best first step is to ask for clarification about why that is the case — it may be for a completely understandable reason, such as being consistent with wording across all employee contracts.”

5. Discuss concerns with a recruiter.

It is not for the recruiter to advise on what a physician should or should not be comfortable with. However, a good physician recruiter can share insight on whether or not the contract is in line with industry standards. That is, in the opening story, if Dr. M’s recruiter informs her that the point of concern is going to be standard in any contract with a major health system, that’s critical information to have. If it’s not an issue that Dr. M can bend on, she may need to look at working for a smaller organization or a private practice that will be more open to making adjustments to the contract. 

Evaluating the Physician Employment Contract

Physicians are obviously in high demand, which in some ways, means they have the upper hand in contract negotiations. Certainly, things like physician compensation, recruitment bonuses, and time off are often up for negotiation; however, depending on the type, size, and resources of the organization, there is not always as much flexibility as the candidate may want.  

Do your research and know what the most important aspects of the contract are for you. Read the contract and seek advice to help you understand the implications of any area that seems unclear. Bring your concerns to the recruiter, and he or she will do everything in his or her power to bring the deal to a satisfactory close for all parties involved. 

“Any contract requires a level of trust,” Katie says. “Contract language can be intimidating, so talk to other physicians in the group to better understand how the terms play out on the job. If the physicians are happy and the situation seems favorable, you can confidently sign the contract and begin the next chapter of your career.”

Whether you are seeking your first physician job or feeling out new opportunities, a Jackson Physician Search recruiter would be happy to share some insight to help you reach your goals. Reach out today or start searching for physician jobs online now.

Physician Recruiter Connects New Family Medicine Physician with Hometown Hospital

Though he didn’t align perfectly with what the client wanted, Senior Director of Recruiting Christen Kolloff advocated for a new family medicine physician who she knew was just right for the job…

4 Physician Mental Health Resolutions

Institutional changes are needed to combat physician burnout, but until then, there are individual actions that can help. Now is the perfect time to adopt some habits that will improve your mental health…

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Physician Jobs: Finding the Silver Lining When You’re Scheduled to Work the Holiday Shift


Physician jobs are rarely contained to the nine-to-five schedule enjoyed by many working professionals. Certainly, physicians in residency and the early stages of their physician careers expect to spend a fair number of nights and weekends at the hospital or at least on call. It’s just part of the physician’s job. What you may not have thought about, however, are the many holidays you might spend working — the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas to name a few. Patients still get sick, injured, or have other emergencies on national holidays, and someone must be there to help them. That someone might even be you this holiday season. 

Working the holidays doesn’t have to be a dreaded part of a physician’s job. In fact, some see it as a rite of passage that every physician must endure. But even beyond your admission to the physician club of shared woes, working the holidays can be an overall positive experience when you think about it in the following ways:

1. A Gift to Colleagues

It’s the season of giving, and what better gift to give your colleagues than the ability to spend the day with their families? Few if any want to work the holidays, so by stepping up to volunteer, you are taking that pressure and burden off others who will likely be very grateful. 

2. A Gift to Patients

You got into this profession to help patients, but it may not always feel like you’re making a difference. However, when you provide those same services on a holiday, patients may be especially appreciative of your time and are more likely to express their gratitude. Even if they don’t, you can take satisfaction in knowing that you are providing an essential service to the community.

3. Earn Points to Cash in Later

All that giving back feels good, of course, but let’s not overlook the longer-term benefit to yourself. If you “take one for the team” over the holidays, you are better positioned to ask off for the popular week of spring break. Or when you need a colleague to cover your call one weekend, he or she will be more inclined to say yes. 

4. A Unique Atmosphere 

So, it may not be the setting for a Hallmark movie, but a hospital or clinic does have a unique vibe on a holiday that is likely to lift the spirits. Families of patients will often go to great lengths to bring the holidays to the hospital, and staff of all types enjoys a sense of unity in the shared experience of missing the holiday with their families and friends. Perhaps more so than any other time, coworkers feel like family. 

In addition to reframing the way you view the holiday shift, it may be useful to consider the following tips for preserving the spirit of the holiday for yourself.

Celebrate on a different day — Why miss the holiday when you can reschedule instead? Take time off before or after the holiday and designate a day to celebrate as you would on an official day. 

Do something festive with staff — Wear a Santa hat to work, play holiday music, or bring in latkes to share. Encourage everyone working the holiday to wear, bring, or do something to make the day jolly. 

Working the holidays is rarely ideal, but it doesn’t have to be a depressing experience. In fact, it’s likely to earn you recognition from your supervisors, appreciation from your peers, help you form deeper connections with staff, and remind you of all the reasons you became a physician — to help others in their time of need. 

Whether you’re spending the holidays on the clock or enjoying time off with family, the team at Jackson Physician Search wishes you all the best during the holiday season. 

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Nearly half of physicians in a recent study say their employers are the primary cause of their burnout. It’s time to have an honest conversation with your manager about the issues that you feel contribute to burnout and the potential ways your manager could solve or improve those issues…

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Start Your Job Search

Click the Search Jobs button to browse our current openings.

6 Things to Know About Medical School Loan Repayment and Your Physician Job Search


According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the average medical student graduates with nearly $200,000 of student loan debt. This is the median figure, meaning half graduate with even more. For many residents, typically earning less than $60k per year, this figure weighs on them. They may struggle to meet minimum payments as they dream of a day when they can pay off their loans with one big signing bonus… but how often does this dream come true? And what do residents need to know right now to increase their chances of paying off medical school debt quickly?

Every year, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search talks to thousands of residents in every specialty, and for 95% of them, paying off medical school loans is a concern. As a physician recruitment firm focused on finding the best fit between employers and physicians, we encourage our employers to offer competitive signing bonuses that may be used for loan repayment and, when possible, participate in programs that qualify their physicians to receive federal or state loan support. We know this will help our clients attract physicians and help physicians achieve their goals of paying off debt quickly. 

While a good physician recruiter can certainly help you prioritize loan repayment in your job search, there are several things to consider well before you begin an active physician job search (and the earlier, the better!): 

1. The Complete Compensation Package

While you may be scanning physician job boards for ads with “loan repayment support” or “signing bonus” in the headline, it’s important to remember that the complete physician compensation package is what will ultimately allow you to repay your loans. Signing incentives are helpful, but assuming you maintain reasonable living expenses, part of your base salary and production-based bonuses can also be put toward your loans. Don’t let an impressive signing bonus distract you from a less than competitive salary or limited earning potential.

2. Signing Bonuses

Many organizations offer recruitment bonuses to attract candidates. Most of the time, these bonuses, funded by the hospital or practice, can be used as the candidate sees fit–for housing assistance, loan repayment, investment, or simply to squirrel away under the mattress. The money may be paid upfront and then forgiven incrementally over a period of three to five years of employment, or paid in installments over the first several years of work. 

3. Loan Repayment Incentives

Like signing bonuses, loan repayment incentives are funded by the hospital or practice. In this scenario, the bonus is designated for loan repayment only. The organization may request your loan documents and make payments for you or reimburse you for payments made. This does not prevent you from making additional payments toward the total. 

4. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The options mentioned above are all funded by the employer, but there are also government programs to consider. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program requires applicants to maintain employment with a government or other non-profit organization for ten years while making 120 income-driven monthly payments toward paying down the loan. After ten years of service, the rest of the loan will be forgiven. 

Since most healthcare organizations are classified as not-for-profit, this can be an attractive option for new residents who will spend three to seven years in training, earning a relatively low income on which their loan payments will be based. Once training is complete, they must find employment with a non-profit until the 10-year obligation is fulfilled.   

5. National Health Service Corps (NHSC)

The National Health Service Corps provides another government-funded loan forgiveness option for physicians working in primary care, dental, and mental or behavioral health. This program, which has three different options, requires the applicant to work at an NHSC-active site for two or three years, depending on the specific program, and offers $50,000-$100,000 in loan forgiveness. 

NHSC-active employers may be located in urban, rural, or tribal communities with limited access to care. These facilities may include Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), Rural Health Clinics (RHC), Indian Health Services Clinics and Hospitals, as well as private clinics and other community health centers. Not all employers that meet these requirements have submitted the paperwork to gain NHSC-active status, so if considering an offer and planning to utilize this program, make sure you know if the employer has or is willing to apply for the status.   

6. State Loan Forgiveness Programs

Most states also offer loan forgiveness programs to incentivize physicians to work in areas of high need, whether rural or urban. Investigate available programs in the regions you are considering to identify programs that meet your needs. The state program may not be available in tandem with the federal one, but you may be able to move from one to the other once your original service commitment is complete. 

Medical school debt is often heavy on the minds of residents and early-career physicians. However, multiple government-funded programs and employer-paid incentives are available to help pay off loans quickly. If loan repayment is a high priority for you, make sure to start your search early and identify the programs that best meet your needs. Applications have strict deadlines, and once accepted, you may be required to document your employment and income status regularly. So start your physician job search early, stay organized, and let your physician recruiter know that loan repayment is a priority. You will soon have your medical school debt behind you and a lucrative physician career ahead.

If you are starting a physician job search, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search is ready to answer any questions you have about the process, including potential loan repayment incentives. Contact a recruiter today or download the Physician Job Search Playbook to get started.  

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