Disney’s iconic 1987 Super Bowl campaign, “What are you going to do next? I’m going to Disney World!” is forever etched into pop culture. It represents a well-deserved celebration of victory that could only come after a lifetime of hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice. While your training as a physician is obviously different than that of a pro-football player, there’s no doubt it required the same level of dedication, talent, and heart. And, while we hope you can celebrate your upcoming completion of medical residency with a getaway, now is the time to start your physician job search.
The Physician Job Market is Bright
MGMA recently asked healthcare administrators about their plans to hire for new physician positions in 2021. An overwhelming 72% confirmed that they do, in fact, plan to hire. Of those, the specialties that are most in-demand include: Family Medicine, OB/GYN, Orthopedics, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics. Considering how the pandemic affected the physician job market over the past year, this is welcomed news for residents starting their first job search.
Another factor contributing to a bustling job market includes the projected wave of upcoming physician retirements, including those that were expedited by the pandemic. The AAMC noted last year that more than two out of five physicians are approaching age 65 within the next decade and will soon leave their profession behind. With the strain of the pandemic, MGMA also polled healthcare practices to learn how many had experienced an unexpected retirement this past year. Results showed that 28% reported losing a doctor to an unplanned retirement, with nearly half of those related to the pandemic. Retirements are creating additional vacancies that residents will have access to.
Late in 2020, Jackson Physician Search surveyed physicians and found 54% said COVID-19 changed their employment plans. Of those, more than half are seriously considering leaving their current employer for another. In addition to physician burnout and low engagement contributing to this potential increase in physician turnover, some have discovered that their job didn’t turn out to be what they imagined.
Avoid the Curse of the First Job
Estimates show that more than half of new physicians leave their first job within five years, and more than half of that group walk away within two years. Those who wait to start their job search too often find that the best positions go quickly, and they’re left to accept jobs that aren’t the right clinical or cultural fit for them.
Getting ahead of the physician job search curve will position you to secure a fulfilling practice opportunity, one where you fit, will succeed, and will want to stay. Ideally, you should start your search 12 (or more) months before your training is complete. It may seem like an eternity, but this timeline is typical:
- Months 1-3: Review the overwhelming information available, talk to recruiters, network with colleagues and mentors, apply to jobs, and settle on a handful of opportunities and locations to explore.
- Months 4-5: Participate in on-site physician interviews and possible second interviews to meet the hiring physician, prospective colleagues, practice or hospital administrators, and human resources staff. Take ample time to conduct a community tour as well.
- Months 6-8: Receive, consider, and negotiate offer letters and preliminary contracts. Whether it’s a large health system with layers of bureaucracy, or a small practice with fewer resources to keep the process moving, it can take considerable time to finalize the employment contract.
- Months 9-12+: Several months are often required to get through the licensing and credentialing process. This timeline varies widely depending on the state, hiring entity, and practice site, but it’s not uncommon to push back a start date because of holdups in licensing and credentialing. If you’re relocating for your position, you’ll need time to move as well.
Friendly Reminder: This Isn’t Real Estate and Location Isn’t Everything
One common mistake that newly trained doctors make is to focus their job search on a particular location. Interestingly, more than 55% of residents practice medicine in the same state in which they completed their training according to the AAMC. In some cases, physicians insist on a certain location to be near family and the community where they grew up, rather than focusing on finding the practice setting and culture that offers the best fit.
That narrow of an approach could force you into a job you don’t love. We surveyed physicians and found that when “location” was the top priority in their first job search, they were more likely to leave within five years than those applicants who had chosen “quality” as the top priority. And, who knows? A rural practice opportunity could be the perfect fit for you.
Finding Physician Jobs
In our digital world, there are a myriad of tools available to help you find job opportunities for which you’d like to apply. Let’s explore.
Leverage Social Media
- Doximity – If you only passively use physician-centric sites like Doximity, it is time to increase your activity. Reach out to colleagues and ask them to provide recommendations. Take advantage of everything that is available on the site, including the careers section and job board.
- LinkedIn – While not dedicated to physicians, LinkedIn is a site for professionals, including executives, administrators, and others who can aid in your job search. There are also more than 2,000+ “groups” dedicated to physicians and various medical specialties. Find a few that relate to your specialty and start making connections. Many positions are also posted on LinkedIn, so be sure to check the job board.
Visit Online Job Boards
Make it a habit to check online job boards for the latest postings and set up alerts to be notified when something relevant is posted, including:
- New England Journal of Medicine: NEJM Career Center
- Journal of American Medical Association: JAMA Career Center
- Specialty Organizations: Cardiology Careers, ACOG Career Connection (OBGYN), Surgeons
- Healthcare Job Boards: Health eCareers, PracticeLink.com
- Physician Recruitment Firm websites: Jackson Physician Search
- General Employment Job Boards: Indeed.com
Network, Network, Network
- Update your social media pages and post relevant content frequently.
- Join your medical association chapters at the state and local level and attend networking events and conferences.
- Subscribe to industry trade journals and take advantage of publishing opportunities.
- Watch for networking and social events hosted by hospitals and healthcare organizations.
- Attend career fairs sponsored by associations and healthcare systems.
- Inform your personal and professional network that you are actively searching, as an unlikely connection is often the key to a new opportunity.