Physician Job Hunting Timeline
What is the right time to start a physician job search? This question haunts every final year medical resident. There is one myth that needs to be clarified. Most of us are not sure how long the physician employer will wait for us to join the practice. This is the most common deterrent for the physicians not to apply early. But the truth is that most of the physician employers start anticipating need for a physician job opening many months and even a year or two in advance. Recruiting a physician is not easy. It takes several months of running advertisements, another four to six months to interview, couple of months to finalize the physician employment contract. Even after accomplishing this entire task, employer has to wait many more months to complete the new physician’s credentialing and licensing. Therefore employers like to finalize physician contracts as early as possible, even as early as one year, to give them enough time to complete all the formalities before actual need arises. This pressure on the physician employer also makes it less likely for them to drop you if you are unable to join in time for some reason.
Although there are exceptions to the above timeline, especially when the need for a physician employee is acute as in the case of a physician abruptly leaving the practice or sudden increase in patient volume. But most of these issues will be discussed with you over the phone before the interview. Even these employers may be forced to wait till you are ready if they are not able to find someone to start immediately. They then fill up the position temporarily with locum tenens till the new physician is able to begin the employment.
Unfortunately you cannot jump out of the bed one fine morning and start looking for the physician job. Just as the physician employers have to plan months and even a couple of year in advance to announce a vacancy, you have to start planning your physician job search too. There are several variables. Do you want to go for a job or you want to do a fellowship? Do you want to go solo, join a group practice or become a partner? Do you want to be an academician or go into a private practice? What states to you want to consider a job opportunity in? And the list goes on.
You may also want to talk to people who are already doing what you want to do. They may be able to tell you pros and cons and may even lead to a change of heart. Or vice versa, make you even more determined to get the same kind of job.
Once you have decided the type of job you will be applying for you will need to prepare a resume and cover letter to promote your strong points making you suitable for that kind of job. You may need to acquire extra skills, put in extra time to do research or learn procedures so that you can outshine other candidates.
Now when you are ready with your ammunition to succeed in the battle of finding the right doctor job, there is more to do. You need to fish out opportunities. Many good physician employment opportunities in medicine are not advertised and are filled by word of mouth. This is why networking is important. We will talk about job search in another post. You will need to scour listings in the classified, call them to find more about the physician job opportunity and fax your resume. Then you will need to follow up on the applications. It gets challenging to juggle your time between your present responsibilities, upcoming board exams etc. That again gives me an opportunity to emphasize the importance of getting a running start early in the game.
By the beginning of the final year you should have had it all thought out. What field you are going to pursue, where, what you should add to your skills to make yourself marketable. Beginning of the final year of your residency should mark the resume writing and finalizing. Also cover letters should be drafted. Make standard cover letters for different fields you plan to apply to. Keep back up copies on your computer, on a disc, as well on the web. So you can access them whenever you want to. You can keep your resume and cover letter saved as attachments in your email. This way they will be available to you on the go.
The aim is to sign a physician employment contract within the first six months of your final year. You will need rest of the year to complete your credentialing and other paperwork. That leaves you with six months to complete your mammoth task of physician job hunting. I have developed a timeline that you can refer to. Make sure you complete all the work in a given month to make sure that you don’t lose the acceleration you have gained by starting early.
RECOMMENDED CALENDAR FOR JOB SEARCH:
END OF SECOND YEAR OR PREFERABLY AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR RESIDENCY
- File application with Federation of Credential Verification Service to get your credentials verified. This will make your future license applications much quicker. I would especially recommend it if you are a foreign medical graduate. It will eliminate the need to get your credentials verified by your medical school again and again.
You can get an application form from 1-888-ASK-FCVS or online at www.fsmb.org
- Write up your cover letters (one week)
- Write up your resume (one week)
- Decide your priorities in looking for a job (one week)
- Show your resume and cover letter to peers and mentors for corrections
- Decide what month you will be interviewing and schedule an easy rotation or vacation for yourself
- Start scouring journals/websites for physician job classifieds and make a file to list them
- Enroll with recruiters
- Talk to your mentors regarding the job you want and see if they know about an opening.
- Get a fax machine at home/ work secured for your use.
- Start faxing or emailing your resume to prospective physician employer.
- Continue looking for physician employment opportunities in various medical journals
- Continue faxing your resume/ cover letter
- Start calling prospective physician employers one week after sending your resume.
- Schedule interviews for the month you have selected.
- Continue what you did in September
- Attend interviews
- Continue attending interviews.
- Continue job search if you are not pleased with the places where you are getting interview for.
- Decide by end of the month where you will join.
- Make sure you have registered for the medical boards.
- Register for a board review course in your specialty.
- Inform your prospective physician employer about decision to join the group after they have made an offer.
- Obtain the physician employment contract
- Get the physician contract reviewed by an attorney
- Negotiate the contract
- Sign the physician employment contract
- Apply for state medical license
- Apply for hospital privileges (even if license pending)
- Fill up and send employment paperwork
- Fill up and send credentialing paperwork for medical insurance companies, HMOs etc.(Payors)
- Call and find out if your employer has everything they need.
- Try to find out about housing in the area you will be moving to.
- CAUTION: Don’t buy a house until you are at least six months into the job and sure you will be staying.
- ENJOY!!!!…..AH! WELL STUDY FOR THE BOARDS.
- Plan your moving out
- Arrange for an apartment near your work area.
- Reserve the movers well in advance.
- Make sure you attend your graduation. You will not get another chance.
- Attend a board review course