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.