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Starting Your Physician Job Search

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Step 1: Figure out what you want from your physician job.

Step 2: Get yourself ready to be on the market.

Step 3: Start putting out feelers for your physician job search.

Step 4: Make a list of places you’d love to work based on the criteria you set above and proactively start reaching out to them.

Step 5: Be intentional about your message.

So, you’re looking for a physician job. Maybe it’s your first job out of training, or maybe your current physician job isn’t the right fit. Finding a job is time consuming, in many cases expensive (even if others are paying for your interviews, the opportunity costs of a job search and time off interviewing add up quickly), and the decision you make will influence every other aspect of your life, so it’s important to be thoughtful about how you approach the process. This approach will ensure you find a job that is actually a good fit for you, rather than whatever options a recruiter puts in front of you.


PSG 2023-2024 Transition to Practice Educational Series - For graduating trainees to help ensure a smoother transition from training to practice, including events about the job search, contract negotiations, relocation, personal finance 101, and basic business of medicine topics such as RVUs

- Previous events can be seen here

Five steps to be effective when starting your physician job search.

Step 1: Figure out what you want from your physician job.

This is likely the hardest part, as many of us don’t know exactly what we want when we approach our physician job search. We checked off a box in high school saying we were pre-med, and then somebody told us what to do at every stage going forward. We may have some ideas about what the ideal job looks like, but the truth is, many of us end up taking jobs because they happen to be in a city we want to be in, a mentor or friend knew of a job opening, or because it was the most prestigious or paid the most. Don’t do that. Be intentional. Think about:

  • What location fits in best with what you want for your personal life?

  • How many hours a week do you want to work?

  • What level of complexity of cases do you want?

  • Do you want teaching or research to be a part of your job?

  • How important is money to you (be honest with yourself, as you’re going to hate a job if you don’t feel like you’re being adequately compensated for it)?

  • How important is prestige to you?

  • How often are you willing to be working outside of normal business hours?

  • Do you want to be an owner in a private practice one day (along with the autonomy and financials but also the hassles that come with it), or are you content being an employee?

Step 2: Get yourself ready to be on the market.

  • Update your CV/resume.

  • Google yourself and see what comes up - your potential employer will almost definitely be doing this. If there’s something you have control over that you don’t want up there, take it down.

  • Set your social media settings to private unless you feel they will help you in the job search (LinkedIn, the platform formerly known as Twitter if you post a lot of professional things, etc).

  • Pro tip: Create a different email address and maybe even a Google voice number to conduct your job search with, especially if you’re planning on using a recruiter. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up to be contacted by recruiters in the middle of your kids’ basketball games 10 years later (ask me how I know).

Step 3: Start putting out feelers for your physician job search.

  • Start reestablishing contact with mentors, med school classmates, and colleagues from training or previous jobs and let them know you’re looking for a change or starting your job search out of training. The more people that know you’re looking, the higher the chances one of those coveted non-advertised jobs comes up.

  • Sign up for our job match and list your preferences. We’re not recruiters and won’t sell your info - we just contact you if we see a job that matches your criteria and send you the contact info; you can do with it whatever you want.

  • If you want to use a recruiter, start getting in touch with them. If you want to be listed on job boards, get listed on them. Don't forget to check out our job board on the communities for some of those jobs that aren't often advertised!

Step 4: Make a list of places you’d love to work based on the criteria you set above and proactively start reaching out to them.

These are ways to get around the cold shoulder you may get if you cold call the practice or HR, especially if they’re not actively advertising a job:

  • Best way: get a warm intro. If you know somebody that knows somebody at the job, ask them to introduce you.

  • If your significant other already has a job in the area (we see this a lot with dual physician jobs), ask their job to help introduce you to potential employers. They don’t want to see your significant other leave, so they’re incentivized to help you find a job.

  • Some medical societies (especially in smaller specialties) have listings of members and where they practice, and often contact info. You can use this to send them an email.

  • You can look up the doctors at a practice on the practice page and reach out to them via their email addresses there, if listed, or look them up on LinkedIn and send them a message there if they’re on that platform.

Step 5: Be intentional about your message.

  • Keep it short. People are busy! Quick intro with why you’re reaching out, who you are, and why you want to be in the area, and CV attached so they can decide quickly whether they’re interested in talking more. You don’t have to give them your life story at the beginning. There’s plenty of time for that during phone calls and interviews.

  • Make it personalized. Nobody likes form letters that don’t indicate you’ve done zero research about their practice. Tell them what you like about their practice, physicians there you admire, etc. Then they’ll know you reached out intentionally.

  • If there’s a special skill you can bring to their practice (a service or procedure they don’t currently offer, a language you speak that may be helpful, etc), mention it. Maybe they didn’t think they needed to hire, but they’ll hire for the right person.

  • Mention people you know in common. Name dropping is good and makes them less likely to ignore you, even if it’s just to say that they’re not looking, so you can close the loop on the opportunity.

If you don’t get a response, don’t be shy about sending a follow up message or trying to reach out another way. We’re all busy - you don’t know if they got that email or message right before they were scrubbing in the OR and forgot about it a few hours later. Don’t be a pest, but persistence also shows them you actually care about the job and aren’t just blasting everyone. There’s a lot more to the job search, interview, and contract negotiations, but we cover those separately. Here’s a guide to preparing for your private practice interview (but really, the principles apply to all interviews), and here’s some things you should know about contract negotiations! Remember, we have a transition to practice series for graduating residents and fellows every year, and we’d love to help you throughout the year. You can sign up for that here.

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