Job Search Mistakes to Avoid for the Post-Residency Physician

Cortney Ikpe

Now that you’ve completed the long and arduous training that is your residency, you face a new challenge: finding the right practice. Unfortunately, this process is not as simple as it may seem for individuals with specialized and highly demanded medical knowledge.

There are a number of considerations that physicians fresh out of residency need to take into account. We will take you through several missteps that post-residency physicians often make so that you have the knowledge and capability to avoid them.

Not Planning Ahead

Most job search and hiring experts will tell you that the key to a successful job search is to start early. This is especially true for physicians, who want to ensure that their extensive training culminates in a practice that meets all of their needs. Starting the search early will give you enough time to sift through all of the details regarding contracts, settings, and other options. It is suggested that the job search starts anywhere from twelve to eighteen months prior to your intended start date.

A key benefit to starting early, and using Resolve, is the ability to gain multiple job offers. Physicians who start their job search early have a greater probability to receive competing offers, which provides the physician with more options, security and negotiation power.

An additional factor to keep in mind is whether you want to pursue a fellowship or not. The search for a fellowship typically runs concurrently with a job search but should usually start one to two years before completing your residency. Even if you are not 100 percent sure about whether or not you want to complete a fellowship, starting the application process early will give you that option when the time comes to decide.

Not Weighing the Pros and Cons

There are several options when it comes to choosing where you will work. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons of each potential setting in which you will likely be practicing. For example, working in a private practice may provide you with an opportunity to make a very high income but may also require you to deal with a large amount of paperwork. Working in a hospital may allow you to deal with less paperwork, but may also result in a lower income.

You have to decide as a new physician which of these aspects you can live with and which ones you would rather not give up. Much of the decision can come down to how you want to budget both your money and time.

Overlooking How Work Affects Non-Work

If you are married, have a family, or even if you are single, it is crucial that you make sure your work is not negatively affecting your preferred lifestyle outside of work. Many times employers will offer a post-residency doctor an enticing salary without really giving the full picture of what is expected in the job.  It can come as a big surprise to a new physician when they are working much more hours and receiving much less support than they originally expected.

If you are a physician looking to start your first job, especially in a medically underserved area, make sure you find out how much call you are expected to take, how the organization will handle coverage if you go on vacation and what resources are available for continuing medical education.

Also, consider the type of community you want be a part of: What are the schools are like? What cultural and recreational opportunities are available? What is the cost of living?

Not Learning about Non-Competes and Malpractice Coverage Options

There are certain components of your contract with which you will want to be familiar. One of these is a non-compete clause, which dictates where you can practice in relation to your original place of employment if you leave that job. Usually it will state that you cannot practice within a 15-to-30 mile radius of your original employer. Try to keep this radius as narrow as possible to keep your options open if you do decide to leave.

Another important component of your contract is tail coverage, which protects you from claims that are brought against you after you have left your current job. Tail coverage can cost a reasonable amount for the first year, but after that it gets substantially higher. It is possible for the practice or hospital to pay for your tail coverage, so be sure to try to negotiate for this type of agreement.

Negotiating the Contract Alone

We have mentioned several steps in this process that are probably out of your field of expertise, such as negotiating pay and benefits. Luckily, you do not have to go through this process alone because there are experts willing to help you from the initial job search all the way through to negotiating and signing your contract. Resolve works on your behalf to find the jobs you want, where you want them.  After the job search, let Resolve’s Contract Specialists negotiate your contract and increase its value.