Home Career The Best Way to Prepare for a Physician Job While in Residency

The Best Way to Prepare for a Physician Job While in Residency

The Best Way to Prepare for a Physician Job While in Residency
Photo by Jeremy Alford on Unsplash

If you are in the middle of a residency or fellowship, you are probably so overwhelmed that getting a job when the program is over isn’t something you regularly think about. However, you need to begin the job search long before the program is complete. Otherwise, you will be behind the ball and must work harder to catch up.

A job search timeline can help you complete certain steps of this process in a reasonable timeframe. With the help of this timeline, you can have a job set up before you finish the residency or fellowship and begin focusing on other aspects of life. What steps should you take when you have this job waiting in the wings when your schooling is done? You don’t want to be one of the doctors looking for work at the last minute. Doing so is stressful, and you have enough stress in your life. 

Know What You Want in a Job

Long before this training ends, it’s smart to have an idea of what your perfect job looks like. It’s easy to focus solely on the salary and benefits, but outstanding compensation can’t overcome a hostile work environment or no home life. Sit down with those who will be affected by the choices you make, such as a spouse or your children, and discuss all aspects of the perfect job. Where would it be located, what pay will it offer, and how much time off will it provide? These questions and more need to be answered before the job search moves forward.

Once this list has been developed, it’s time to begin prioritizing the different items. Some residents and fellows put a specific geographical location as the top priority because they want to be close to family and friends. Other individuals prioritize a group practice because they want coverage when they are spending time with family and friends. Every person is different, so each list will be unique. Try to have it in place a minimum of two years before the training program ends.

Fostering Your Network

Now is not the time to ignore your network. Establish relationships with various people in the industry. Ask for advice, and let them know you are looking into possible job opportunities even though your training won’t end for a few years. They can help you keep an eye out for open positions that are right for your needs. Take part in professional associations and attend industry events, as these are excellent places to find new connections and nurture existing ones. A strong network requires effort on all parts, so share your time and expertise with others. 

Research Job Openings

Although most industry insiders recommend residents and fellows hold off on applying for jobs until they are near the end of their training, researching open jobs should be an ongoing process. Knowing what is out there makes it easier to find the right job when this training is done. This research allows you to learn about different positions, benefits that might be offered, and more. The more information you have, the easier it becomes to find a job that is right for your needs in the future. 

Regularly Update Your CV

Most medical organizations want a CV rather than a resume. When creating this document, you want to be concise while still covering your skills and experience. Don’t try to make this document fancy or elaborate. Choose a template and follow it exactly. Many residency and fellowship programs have a template participants can use. 

When you finish drafting this document, pass it on to someone else to review. Your mentor or advisor would be a good place to start. In addition, as your training progresses, update the document with the new information. Every time you do so, have it reviewed again to ensure the document is ready to be shared at a moment’s notice. 

Learn Additional Skills

While your focus should be on practicing medicine, it never hurts to pick up other skills, such as billing and coding. You need some familiarity with the business side of practicing medicine, as this will help you evaluate open positions. In certain cases, compensation is determined in part by productivity and relative value units. You must understand what these are to determine how much you can expect to be paid when taking certain positions. 

Gather References 

As you enter the final year of the residency or fellowship, it’s time to begin collecting reference letters from various parties. Request references from physicians you have worked with during this training, as they can share your strengths. They know what healthcare organizations look for when hiring doctors and can address those specific areas in the reference. Don’t wait until the last minute to request these documents. Doctors are busy, so they need time to create thorough, honest, and accurate references. 

get references
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsp

Practice Your Interview Skills

Never prepare once for an interview and assume your work is done. Each interview is different, but you need to have some basic skills. Job interviews for doctors differ from most interviews. Expect to visit the organization once or twice and stay a day or two each time. The goal is to find the right fit for all parties. Spend time developing questions to ask about the organization and talk with mentors and colleagues to see if they have any suggestions for these interviews. 

Ramp Up the Job Search

Six months before the training program ends, it’s time to start searching for a job and applying. Job boards are a great place to start this search, but they should not be your sole resource at this time. Reach out to your network to learn about job openings not shared on these boards and talk with others in the program to learn if they are aware of other opportunities. One might not be right for them, but it would be perfect for you. When applying for jobs, send a unique cover letter. This letter should outline your interest in the job, your highlights, and why you feel you would be a good fit. Have this letter proofread before you send it out. 

Evaluate Offers

As the training draws to a close, it’s time to begin evaluating offers. Work on your negotiating skills and find an attorney who can help you review contracts and job offers. When an offer comes in, take time to learn about the employer. Ensure they share the same values and goals. When you visit the organization, talk with various staff members and see how they interact. Doing so will help you determine whether this is the right position. 

Residents and fellows have a lot on their plates. They must prepare for the boards, move through the licensing process, look for a job, and keep up with the training. You know this better than anyone as you live it day-to-day. Creating this job search timeline will help you get everything done. Draft it today so you can quickly and easily find the right position for your needs when you finish the program. 

Featured Photo by Jeremy Alford on Unsplash