When you think of Florida, the warm climate and alligators tend to come to mind. In Gainesville, Florida, there is great local affection for the Gators—that is, the University of Florida’s athletics program—as well as the sunny weather that makes outdoor recreation, farmers markets and biking to work possible.
“I was born in Auburndale, Florida, between Orlando and Tampa. Most folks when I was growing up were Florida State, Miami or Gators fans,” says Ryan Nall, M.D. Nall attended the University of Florida, which he says “lays the groundwork for being a huge Gators fan.” Nall also completed medical school at the University of Florida, but left the area for his residency. “I did my residency at Beth Israel in Boston. I lived there for four years.” After a stretch of time away, Nall and his wife were eager to return to Florida and put down roots.
Now, Nall is a general internist with UF Health, the University of Florida health system. He and his wife have an 18-month-old baby and enjoy their community and friends in Gainesville.
“As a medical student, you see one side of Gainesville, centered around the university. Coming back, working here now, there is a strong community here of a lot of academic folks. People have their kids play together; it’s great.”
Fans gather at the country’s 12th largest college football stadium—Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, nicknamed “The Swamp.”
Nall is quick to cite his favorite thing about Gainesville. “It’s a nice college town that offers a small-town feel with the benefit of the culture provided by the university being here.” That, and the sports.
“I love the football games. A big focus of the town in the fall is football. It’s a lot of fun. I did medical school here and returned here after my residency. I loved cheering for the Gators as a medical student, and it’s been fun moving back here.” Nall says that the spirit around the Gators contributed to his dedication to the University of Florida medical community. “The sports colored my interest, and UF certainly is a great school and program. It’s a fun place to live and work and train.”
“The quality of life here is very high. Being a college town, the amenities we have are not common for the region. If you look around, it’s a very rural area except for Gainesville. We bring in people from all over the world for the university,” says John Pricher, executive director of Visit Gainesville.
“In the county, there are 248,000 people. The majority of those people are in Gainesville proper. The schools are astounding. The high schools have a magnet program. There are two different honors programs,” says Pricher. “Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa are all within two hours. If you want to visit those places, it’s easy.” Pricher says that part of Gainesville’s allure is its affordability. “Compared to those areas [Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa], we definitely have a lower cost of living. Even with the university taking so much land off the tax rolls, it’s still really affordable to live here.”
Pricher is also a University of Florida alumnus. “I came to school here and never left. I really like the pace of life. It’s a small southern town when you get down to it. People are friendly, and everything flows like the rivers and the springs in the area. It’s a steady nice pace, and things get done when they get done. No one is in too much of a hurry.”
Of course, a career with UF Health isn’t much like a lazy river. Says Arman Razavipour, a physician recruiter for the University of Florida College of Medicine, “UF Health is the Southeast’s most comprehensive academic medical center, and the only one in the U.S. with six health colleges and eight research institutes on a single contiguous campus.”
“There are 996 licensed beds among the five Gainesville hospitals in the UF Health system,” says Razavipour. “We’re building two new hospitals in Gainesville, a $415 million project, to meet the increasing demand for care. The UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital will deliver concentrated care to patients with some of the most complex health conditions.”
Razavipour says that he has been actively recruiting physicians and researchers across a wide spectrum of specializations, including oncology, diabetes, genetics, cardiology, neuromedicine, orthopedics and transplantation.
Another employer of physicians in Gainesville is North Florida Regional Medical Center, operated by HCA North Florida. North Florida Regional Medical Center is an acute care center with 445 licensed beds.
Outside of work, physicians in Gainesville have plenty of entertainment options beyond the stadium. “We have such a wealth of nature-based activities, whether you want to ride horses or snorkel in one of the cold water springs,” says Pricher.
Razavipour echoes this: “Gainesville is known for its natural beauty and many springs, lakes and rivers. The climate encourages outdoor activities and residents enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, bicycling and camping.”
Nall says that commuting to work by bike is common in Gainesville and that “they are in the process of completing a big bike trail.” Since 2013, the Florida Department of Transportation has been at work on an extensive trail construction project that will both create new paths for walking and biking within the UF campus and connect these bike paths with existing ones off-campus.
Nall also enjoys the dining and arts scene in Gainesville. “There is a growing food and restaurant scene with local chefs that are creating some wonderful places to dine. There is a microbrewery group that is developing; it will be the third microbrewery in the area. There is a wonderful farmers market downtown. [On] Wednesday nights there is a farmers market/art market. It’s a great place to go and enjoy everything that’s made in the area. Gainesville is often viewed as this small college town, but there is so much more happening in terms of art and public works, making it a better place to live and work.”
Nall says that his favorite part of the job is taking care of the patients and engaging with the people of Gainesville. “Everybody is unique and brings their own story, which is what makes this job so interesting and exciting. Now that I have been here for three years, you begin to connect with people as you get to know them over time. It’s invigorating.”
Employer: Covenant Medical Group in Lubbock, Texas
Shaun Jester, D.O., recently relocated from Pennsylvania to Texas after finding a new opportunity on PracticeLink.com.
Med School: University of North Texas Health Science Center – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (1999)
Residency: Crozer-Chester Medical Center (2000–2004)
Jester and his family—wife, Lara, and children, Grace and Hope—recently relocated from Pennsylvania to Lubbock, Texas, where he’s now a laborist at Covenant Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Jester is also a former U.S. patent holder, church deacon, and is active in pro-life crisis pregnancy work, anti-sex trafficking efforts and domestic violence prevention.
What’s your advice for residents beginning their search? Don’t settle! There are literally hundreds and hundreds of job opportunities (over 800 on the PracticeLink website for OB/GYN jobs alone!). My wife and I settled on my first job, rather than waiting for one we were both really excited about and felt God’s call. Not surprisingly, the job turned out to only last 10 months, as it was a bad fit.
How did PracticeLink help you in your job search? I was able to begin my search on PracticeLink and find a great match within a few weeks. It was nice to have the ability to look for jobs within very specific or broad parameters, depending on my needs.
The PracticeLink physician relations team gave me personal attention, too. My PracticeLink service representative, Brandon, helped me tailor my search to maximize my options as well as inform employers who were looking for someone like me. PracticeLink is a great service; I’ve already told colleagues.
Any other advice? When you are seeking a job, decide if you want to be private, employed, academic or locums. Find out who your partners will be, and don’t be afraid to research them.
You want to think of this as finding a great match. A bad work life can often spill over into your personal life, and life is too short to waste it on a bad work fit. With so many options, there is a good fit for everyone.
With a growing economy and a fantastic real estate market, southeastern Oklahoma has open arms for newcomers. Many of its available properties come with an acre of land or the possibility of ranching. A tight-knit, volunteer-oriented community prevents rural isolation.
Sangeeta Khetpal, M.D., is not your average Oklahoman. She attended medical school in Sindh, Pakistan, at the Peoples University of Medical & Health Sciences for Women, and before moving to Oklahoma, she lived with her cardiologist husband and their two young children in Saint Louis. When Khetpal finished her residency in internal medicine, she landed at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Now Khetpal is a strong proponent of practicing medicine in Oklahoma. She believes the area is on an economic upswing. “Oklahoma offers more than a skilled workforce,” she says, adding that the area has a strong business environment.
Lake Texoma is a recreation hub for both southeastern Oklahoma and northern Texas, and is the country’s 12th largest lake.
The business climate is important to Khetpal because she is an entrepreneur as well as a physician. She runs her own private practice, The Heart & Medical Center. “I never thought that I would be an entrepreneur and work as a self-employed physician,” she says. “I wanted predictability and a structured environment in my job setting, which is very difficult to achieve in a small, self-run practice.”
Still, business is good. In addition to its flagship facility in Durant, Oklahoma, The Heart & Medical Center has facilities in nearby Atoka and Kingston. The staff of 20 includes Khetpal and three other full-time physicians: two internal medicine specialists and Khetpal’s husband, Vivek Khetpal, M.D.
Physicians who don’t share the entrepreneurial gene, or who want to work on a larger team, can find still plenty of other job opportunities in southeastern Oklahoma.
The area’s several major health care systems include Universal Health Services, Inc. and Mercy. Mercy operates 32 hospitals and nearly 300 outpatient facilities in four states: Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. In southeastern Oklahoma, Mercy operates Mercy Hospital Tishomingo, a 25-bed facility.
The Chickasaw Nation Division of Health is another area health care employer. The division serves Oklahoma’s Native American population at several facilities, including Chickasaw Nation Health Center and Ardmore Health Clinic.
“Most of what I recruit for is primary care,” says Ronnie Shaw, a recruiter for the Chickasaw Nation Division of Health. “We don’t have all specialties—not the comprehensive amount that you’ll find in larger facilities—but we do have quite a few.” He recruits for psychiatry, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and endocrinology in particular.
Shaw says that although his job is challenging, he knows living in rural Oklahoma has rewards for physicians. Those who are willing to take a chance can live comfortably and learn about themselves.
Shaw explains, “So many doctors gravitate to the sexy states: Florida, Texas, California. Eighty to 90 percent of doctors want to live in an urban or suburban metro area. It’s a small percentage of doctors that are entertaining going to a more rural area. It has its own challenges, but of the doctors who have recently joined us, if they come on board, they love it. There are a lot of things to be gained if you give it a chance.”
Some physicians who come to work for Chickasaw Nation Medical Center embrace their latent rural selves, says Shaw. “I have people say, ‘I’d like to have a little land.’ I get people who just want a couple of acres or some people who want a ranch situation. I have a doctor who bought horses. It’s the benefit of being in a more rural area.” And Oklahoma City makes a great day trip for those itching for a pro sports game or a shopping spree.
That said, Janet Reed, executive director of the Durant Chamber of Commerce, says you don’t need to leave the area even if you want an exciting Friday night out. “We have a five-star property called the Choctaw Casino Resort. They have a grand theater which hosts a variety of household name stars on tour,” says Reed.
“Our economy is growing. It has been for the past 10 years,” says Reed. This good economy encourages a philanthropic spirit. People who live in Durant and greater southeastern Oklahoma tend to devote free time to volunteering, she says. “We have 48 nonprofits within Bryan County,” she says. “They all provide different services throughout the community. I am very fortunate that the chamber of commerce has a membership of 550, and with that 550, those companies motivate their employees to get involved however they can. We have a very involved community.”
Reed says the community-oriented spirit of southeastern Oklahoma extends to residents’ upbeat temperaments and welcoming attitudes. She says, “It’s a very friendly community. Everybody is welcoming and very open to new people moving in. That’s one of the comments I get from throughout the community. People are very gracious when they have visitors in the area or when new people are moving to the area.”
Khetpal agrees. She says her favorite thing about living in Oklahoma is its people. She took a chance on southeastern Oklahoma, and now she glows as she describes life there.
“Southeastern Oklahoma is great place to live, to enjoy both your work and your family life,” Khetpal says. “The quality of life is excellent. The state has a low cost of living and offers an abundance of recreation, family, education, tourism and volunteer opportunities.”
Hospitals in north central Ohio work hard to recruit and retain staff by maintaining excellent company cultures and supporting physicians’ passion projects. The area’s low cost of living is icing on the cake.
It would be an understatement to say that Ryan Wagner, M.D., likes athletics. He has built his career and his life in north central Ohio around them.
“I’m a primary care sports medicine doctor,” he says. “What I do—it’s a specific subspecialty. We do the nonsurgical care: muscular-skeletal care and orthopedics. The common thing most people are aware of about our work is concussion management.”
At Galion Community Hospital in Galion, Ohio, Wagner has been able to specialize in that passion. He also started a sports health program to teach athletic trainers—the licensed health care providers who help injured athletes recover, rehabilitate and return safely to playing their sports. Wagner’s sports health program works with 15 high schools across north central Ohio, and its graduates help scores of students in the area.
While interviewing with Galion Community Hospital, physician Ryan Wagner, M.D., talked about wanting to start a sports health program. The hospital supported his efforts, and today the program is running strong
“For a lot of these kids, their sport is how they identify themselves. That’s a major thing for me. We want to help athletes be safe, recover quickly and get back into their sport,” says Wagner.
“The sports health program starts and ends with the athletic trainers being out in the schools. There’s an integration between what they do, what I do, what the family doctors do and the ER. We’re involved at all levels of the health care system, making sure that everyone is on the same page.”
As an undergraduate at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, Wagner was a three-sport athlete. He played football and competed in indoor and outdoor track. He then attended medical school at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and completed his residency at Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio. He completed his sports medicine fellowship at Akron City Hospital, part of Summa Health System.
Wagner expressed interest in starting a sports health program while he was still interviewing at Galion Community Hospital, part of Avita Health System. The recruiters told him the hospital would support him, and they kept their word. “They really helped me quite a bit with getting the sports health program underway,” says Wagner.
Myles Creed, director of physician development and recruitment for Avita, says it can be challenging to start a conversation with physicians about coming to rural Ohio. Avita does whatever it can to attract and retain top talent. “Someone like Dr. Wagner could go anywhere in the country. One of our joint specialists went to Harvard Medical School. He could go anywhere in the country,” says Creed. “One thing that makes Avita so attractive is our culture. We have a collaborative, can-do attitude with our physicians.”
Avita Health System is relatively new, founded just five years ago. Before that, Galion was a standalone facility. “We brought on Bucyrus Hospital. The CEO formed Avita Health System to manage both hospitals,” Creed says. Since then, Avita has added a third hospital: Avita Ontario in Ontario, Ohio. “When it was just Galion Hospital, there were 14 employee providers,” Creed says. “Now we’re 100 employee providers.”
On the more northern end of the region sits Fisher-Titus Medical Center, which became the first all-digital, “smart” community hospital in the nation in 2010 and has been named one of the nation’s “most wired” for four consecutive years, according to HealthCare’s Most Wired survey.That focus on technology remains strong.
“There are things here that the average person wouldn’t expect in a 99-bed, nonprofit community hospital,” says physician recruiter Don Prince. “Fisher-Titus has a strong tradition of investing in the latest medical technologies.”
For example: Outside each room, screens allow staff to see—even from down the hall—if a room is occupied or if there’s a provider with the patient. As they get closer, they can even access helpful information such as patient allergies and fall risk potential. And as the provider walks in the room, technology relays to the patient’s television screen the clinician’s name and credentials. Even the room itself is smart, relaying EMR information to the hospitalist’s computer as they enter.
“This just makes it very comfortable for everybody,” Prince says.
In the last 10 years, Fisher-Titus has seen many new additions: a new rehab center, cancer center, heart and vascular center, “convenient care” services and more—plus surgical services, imaging services, ER, admitting and registration areas.
“I’ve been in a lot of facilities in my career,” Prince says. “This is by far the cleanest facility I’ve ever been in, and it’s friendly and welcoming.”
Physicians find the area welcoming, too, with nearby wineries, Cedar Point amusement park, and just an hour’s drive to either Cleveland or Toledo.
A photographer’s lucky shot—but a landscape worth the photo in north central Ohio.
The physicians who work at Fisher-Titus, says Prince, may vacation somewhere warmer in the winter, but tend to stay put in other seasons. “In the summer, there’s way too much to do here,” he says.
“Sometimes the spouses are afraid to live in a rural area,” says Avita’s Creed. “But we are 45 minutes from Columbus and an hour from Cleveland. You raise a family in a smaller community with smaller school sizes. Then you can hop in your car, and in less than an hour, you’re in the city. It’s not an all-day trip.”
Lee Tasseff, president of Mansfield/Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says, “There’s way more to north central Ohio than anyone would ever imagine,” he says. Popular pastimes include biking, hiking, canoeing, zip-lining, boating and golfing.
The low cost of living is also a major draw. “The average price for a home is just under $132,000,” says Tasseff. “The median price is $90,000. Your money can buy a great deal here.”
Wagner and his wife may have settled in north central Ohio, but their lifestyle is far from settled down. Their two daughters are three-sport athletes like their dad. “Both girls do taekwondo, soccer and basketball,” says Wagner. “My oldest is thinking about doing volleyball. We’re members of a community track program that lets adults and children participate, so I do that with them.”
Whatever sports his daughters decide to focus on, Wagner and his wife will be there to support them—and run alongside them.
If central Vermont makes you think of fall foliage bursting with color, maple syrup and skiing, your picture is accurate. Whether you see yourself taking solace in a cabin in the woods or living in a loft in a quaint downtown area, central Vermont has the options and opportunities to attract physicians with a variety of tastes.
For Tien Burns, M.D., patients are the best part of working as MRI section chief and radiologist at the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont. She appreciates her patients’ easy-going attitudes as well as central Vermont’s mellow environment.
“When you are a resident, you don’t really think about a VA hospital as a career option,” she says. “You think, ‘Should I go into private practice or academic?’ During your rotation, the VA seems like an insular part of your training. But when you think about it, it’s a good combination of both [private practice and academic].”
“I was surprised that the VA has such modern equipment,” she raves. “We just got three new ultrasound machines and an MRI scanner. We have a new CT scanner, and we’re due to get another soon. It’s great to work with state-of-the-art machines.”
Additionally, Burns says that the VA’s benefits package not only includes health insurance but also a retirement plan and significant student loan assistance. “The VA offers a debt reduction program,” she says. “They pay back up to $120,000 of your student debt over five years. Each year, you get one-fifth of that after a year of service. And it’s not taxable, so it all goes to paying off your education debt.”
Charles Long, a recruitment consultant for the VA, confirmed the details of the VA’s debt reduction program. He adds, “White River Junction is an award-winning facility, providing health care to over 23,000 veterans in Vermont and New Hampshire. We are closely affiliated with the medical school at Dartmouth and the University of Vermont College of Medicine.”
The University of Vermont College of Medicine is a major health care player in Vermont and upstate New York. Sarah Childs, manager of physician services for the Central Vermont Medical Center, says, “The University of Vermont health network includes hospitals in Vermont and upstate New York. That affiliation is about four years old. There was no unified health system in Vermont, and there was no system in upstate New York. These are individual organizations that have come together to form this health network with the University of Vermont being the mother ship in a sense.”
Montpelier is America’s smallest state capital, with a population that doesn’t quite hit 8,000.
Another major employer of Vermont physicians is Rutland Regional Medical Center, a 188-bed nonprofit community hospital. “We have a service population of 85,000. We do just about everything except high-level brain surgery and high-level heart surgery. We have just about every specialty, all the ’ologies,’” says Becky Banco, a physician recruiter at Rutland.
Rutland sets itself apart with a large team of scribes. “Scribes accompany the physicians when they see patients and take notes,” says Banco. “It means less paperwork for the physician to do in between patients, so they’re seeing more patients. But it also means being able to have a conversation and give better care.”
“We have strong hospitals in central Vermont,” says Sam Andersen, executive director of the Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization. She adds that hospitals aren’t the only reason why physicians are attracted to jobs in Vermont.
“We have a very high quality of place that appeals to people who enjoy a lot of variety for outdoor activities. If you like to canoe, kayak or hike, you’ll love the summer. If you like to ski, snowshoe, snowboard or go snowmobiling, you’ll love our winter.”
For those who are less sporty, Vermont still has plenty to offer. “We’re strong in the entrepreneurial sector and the makers sector,” Andersen says. “The makers sector is the intersection of the creative economy and manufacturing that are scaling into high-tech manufacturing. When you look at Vermont, we’re an incubator for some pretty great businesses: Green Mountain Coffee, Ben & Jerry’s and Darn Tough Socks as well as many craft breweries.”
Burns admits, “Winter can be a little too long, but fall is really beautiful. I like the fact that the nature here is so beautiful. You get four seasons. I like three of the four.” Burns also likes the pace of life in Vermont, “It’s really relaxed. It’s safe. It’s not so hectic. It’s a nice place to raise kids. I have two young kids, an 8-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. My husband is a doctor, too. So we have to coordinate our job life with our home life.”
Burns says living in Vermont and working for the VA hospital make work/life balance easier. “I didn’t want a job where I didn’t have any personal time left. Working at the VA allows you to have a life outside of work as well.”
Southeastern Missouri offers plenty to do as well as the freedom to create your own opportunities. Modern amenities and nearby Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau draw a diverse population and offer entertainment.
Paul Caruso, M.D., has lived in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, since 1999. “Southeast Hospital is a great place to work,” says Caruso. And he would know. After spending time away from southeastern Missouri, Caruso couldn’t wait to get back. “I took five years off from working here to move to California to complete my fellowship in neonatology. After practicing in California for one year, my wife and I decided to move back. We both preferred living in the Midwest.”
Cape Girardeau is very family friendly. In fact, Caruso says, “That’s one of the main reasons we wanted to move back. It’s a great place for children to grow up. There’s a full array of private schools for all the religious denominations, but the public school system, Cape Girardeau Public Schools, is very good. Our kids go to the public schools and they’re getting a great education.”
Paul Caruso, M.D.
Both personally and professionally, Caruso has a passion for helping children.Today, he is the medical director of neonatology at Southeast Hospital, and he and his wife have nine children.
“My wife and I became involved in foster care when we moved to southeast Missouri,” Caruso says. “Kids are my life. I spend most of my free time at home with my wife and kids. If you’re going to catch me in the evening, I’m going to be sitting on the floor playing with the kids or playing cards with the older kids.”
Caruso’s wife also works for Southeast Hospital. She is a psychiatrist who works weekends for the hospital’s inpatient mental health unit.
“SoutheastHEALTH is definitely a family-oriented organization,” says Tatianna Parham, a recruiter for SoutheastHEATH, which runs Southeast Hospital, many outpatient clinics and three smaller hospitals in the southeastern Missouri area. “People are welcoming and warm,” she says. “People take time to get to know each other.”
Cape Girardeau has a population of 40,000 and a daytime population of 100,000 from people commuting to work from other parts of southeastern Missouri. The hospital has an even wider geographic draw. “We are the largest medical market between St. Louis and Memphis, Tennessee, right along the Mississippi,” says Parham. “Our medical population is 675,000 individuals. It’s everybody just north of Memphis and south of Saint Louis, plus people from Illinois, Arkansas and Kentucky. We get a lot of regional pull. We serve five different states’ residents.”
The hospital has 11 neonatologists, two NICUs, two cardiac centers and two cancer centers. Caruso says, “We have state-of-the-art equipment. We have PET scanners. Most surgeons use the da Vinci robot.”
“Not many cities that have a population of 40,000 have the high level of medical expertise that this city has,” says Caruso.
Stacy Lane, director of public relations for Visit Cape Girardeau, says Cape Girardeau combines a small-town friendliness with big-city amenities. That combination extends beyond health care.
“You get to have your cake and eat it, too,” she says. “You get to enjoy a lot of culture and things to do, but you don’t have any of the negatives of living in a city.” Lane notes that young professionals in southeastern Missouri are often able to buy homes. “The cost of living is really affordable. It’s not a barrier to entry for younger folks. My husband and I have a lot of friends in the St. Louis area, and they’re shocked at what we can afford. But if you don’t want to own, there are really neat apartments and condos in the downtown area if you want to enjoy downtown life.”
Southeast Hospital medical director of neonatology Paul Caruso, M.D., couldn’t wait to get back to the Midwest after fellowship in California.
Cape Girardeau’s downtown scene is both historic and upscale. “We have a thriving downtown with shopping on our historic riverfront. You can park your car on the street and see the neat historic buildings, shop at locally owned boutiques or just enjoy the beautiful banks of the Mississippi River. You can walk right down to the river,” says Lane.
According to Caruso, the area’s high quality of life and low cost of living encourage residents to engage in philanthropy and volunteerism. He says, “It’s amazing the experiences you can have here. …There are a lot of people who are involved in local and national causes. I have friends who are really into medical missions. There’s always a group going to Guatemala or Ethiopia and Haiti that provide health care. There are three or four trips to Haiti a year. There’s also a local organization called Room for One More [Child] that helps families adopt locally and abroad.”
Caruso even has his own nonprofit organization on a mission that hits close to home. He explains, “Five years ago, my wife asked me if we might be interested in starting a home for foster children. This is just one of those things that you feel is possible if you live in Missouri. So we started Hope Children’s Home Jackson, a group home for foster children in Jackson, Missouri. The home has more of a family atmosphere as opposed to an institutional feel. We are able to do this because of the support of our community. There are so many things you can do here that you feel are possible—that in a larger city you may not feel that way.”
For physicians, there’s no such thing as a typical job-search process. Some physicians explore several practice types; others choose one early on. Some need visa help; others don’t. Some stay put; others move across the country. These variables and many others mean your search may include twists and turns your colleagues never experience.
The good news is that’s OK. Your goal is finding a practice that fits you. After all, that’s the test of a successful job search: Are you happy where you land? Exactly how you land there is up to you.
We found three physicians whose job searches were quite different, yet all successful. Here’s how they found their perfect fits.
The proactive approach
The physician perspective
Otolaryngologist Michael Vietti, M.D., had been actively looking for a new position for about a year before accepting a role as a staff physician at Wilson Health in Sidney, Ohio.
His search tactics consisted mainly of speaking with the steady stream of contingency recruiters who called with new opportunities and regularly scanning online job postings. The sites he checked most frequently included academies such as the American Academy of Otolaryngology, as well as career sites such as PracticeLink. It was there that he spotted a listing at Wilson Health in Sidney, Ohio, a little more than an hour from his former position in Columbus.
Before beginning his search, Vietti had made a list of what he was looking for–the must-haves as well as what he was willing to give up.
Although Vietti was willing to give up his Columbus location, he recognized that his spouse was less interested; she wanted to stay in the Columbus area until their child finished high school. A position in Sidney was close enough that he could almost commute.
So Vietti did a little research, looking into Wilson Health’s staff roster, facility, and digging to uncover any recent issues. Seeing that there might be a fit, he called the in-house recruiter, David Andrick, directly for the scoop. After that conversation, he submitted his CV for consideration, followed by a couple of trips to Sidney to meet with staff members and administrators in person. He also asked Andrick for a list of staff members he could call about the hospital’s work environment.
The more he learned about Wilson Health, the more Vietti saw that it met all of his must-haves.
Otolaryngologist Michael Vietti, M.D.
Vietti’s search was successful in part because he was patient. And that’s the advice he offers other physicians regarding their own search: “Take your time.” Don’t jump at the first opportunity. “It’s a business decision,” he points out, so try and look at each facility or practice objectively as you weigh your options. Don’t be pressured into signing a contract on your first site visit, or before you’re sure this is the best opportunity for you right now. Take the time to carefully research and vet each opening.
Today, Vietti drives back and forth between Columbus and Sidney two or three times a week, spending alternating nights at an apartment close to the hospital. “There’s no such thing as perfect,” he says, but for him, Wilson Health came close.
The employer perspective
Rather than sitting back and hoping to be contacted, David Andrick, director of physician recruitment and relations for Wilson Health, takes a decidedly proactive approach to get in front of physicians who may be thinking about making a move. He advertises in journals, posts on websites like PracticeLink, uses contingency recruiters, sends direct mail and attends national specialty meetings.
In fact, Andrick did all of these things in order to attract attention from leading otolaryngologists when the hospital had an opening about 24 months ago. “One doctor had retired and another was pulling back on his hours, so we needed to fill that role,” Andrick says.
In this case, it was the PracticeLink posting that caught Vietti’s eye. Andrick asked for Vietti’s CV, reviewed it, and set up a site visit soon thereafter. The fact that Vietti was almost local was promising from the outset.
“We have good schools in a small town with a solid hospital,” says Andrick. “It’s a nice place to live and work,” which Vietti already recognized. For candidates from outside the area, Andrick tries to “get personal fast,” to help prospective hires feel a part of the community right from the start. Because if they can see themselves living and working in Sidney, the recruitment process becomes much easier.
Andrick hires 6 to 12 physicians a year, so “bringing one or two new doctors in can have a major impact” on hospital operations. In Vietti’s case, that impact has been all positive. “He did more ENT surgeries in 2015 than we had done in the last five years combined,” says Andick. “He has been one of our most important placements to date.”
Because of the size of the facility, hiring is “a very selective process,” says Andrick. Once a need is confirmed in the community, Andrick initiates the outreach process to find candidates. Even then, however, Wilson Health is extremely selective. Because it is a smaller community, it’s important to bring in people who will be a good fit. Says Andrick: “You have to be careful who you recruit because you’re going to have to live with them.”
Referrals open doors
The physician perspective
The bonds Laura Hahn, M.D., formed with internal medicine faculty members during her residency ultimately led to her perfect job. After graduating from West Virginia University School of Medicine, Hahn started a residency at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. She hoped to stay in the area after residency, so she started networking and exploring opportunities in earnest during her third year. She spent time in clinics and shadowed in an outpatient setting to learn more about it. Shadowing confirmed her inclination toward an outpatient-only practice in Baltimore.
Once she knew where she wanted to end up, Hahn let others know what she was after. Communicating her goals attracted the attention of attending physicians. “I had several attendings talk to me about openings,” she says. They subsequently made introductions for her. “The doctors were eager to help,” says Hahn. Since they knew her well, the physicians could see she would fit well in such a practice. “You develop close relationships with faculty, and they see you in action and how you are with patients,” says Hahn. Those relationships gave her an in with local practices where her attending physicians worked.
A residency at a smaller community hospital helped Laura Hahn, M.D., stand out and build relationships with her colleagues—two attributes that came in handy when she began her job search.
A residency at a smaller community hospital helped Hahn get to know those physicians, too. She had only 11 internal medicine residents in her class, compared to the typical class size of 30 to 60 at larger hospitals.
But even in a small class, Hahn stood out because she wanted to pursue a practice position in Baltimore straight out of residency instead of applying for a fellowship. She asked attending physicians lots of questions about contract negotiation, employers’ reputations and their personal experiences with the hiring process. As a result, Hahn says, “I had all the attention from the attendings.”
Hahn began interviewing with several practices in October of her last year in residency and finished up in December, accepting an offer from the first place she had met with: Mercy Medical Center. “I saw how different the practice was, how open and honest they were in response to my questions,” she says. No other practice gave her the same comfort level.
But she didn’t just rely on her impression from that one interview. Hahn also spoke with physicians already employed at Mercy. Sandy Edwards, senior vice president of physician delivery systems at Mercy, interviewed Hahn, gave her a list of all the physicians at Mercy and each of their email addresses, and encouraged her to ask them for an insider’s perspective on the workplace. Hahn emailed about 10 on that list; all of them responded and assured her they were very happy with their employer.
The employer perspective
When one of Edwards’ physicians told him that “the best resident we’ve ever had” was interested in working at Mercy, Edwards acted quickly to bring in Hahn and interview her.
Edwards felt the need for speed in hiring because finding primary care physicians is highly competitive. “There is a tremendous shortage of primary care doctors, with their numbers declining for the last 20 years…even as the number of doctors needed rises,” explains Edwards. He says that the shortage in 2000 was the equivalent of 9,000 doctors and that by 2025, that figure will rise to 65,000. In the short term, that means there are fewer people to recruit.
To attract strong candidates to grow a practice or replace a retiring physician, Edwards relies heavily on the 210 physicians at Mercy to identify and recruit new physicians.
Fortunately for physicians who want to do primary care in Baltimore, Mercy is a solid option. “We are known as doctor-friendly. We treat everyone as professionals, and we have a good reputation,” says Edwards.
The try-before-you-buy approach
The physician perspective
Like Hahn, leading pulmonologist Thomas O’Mara, M.D., was in demand. He was already at a private practice in Charleston, South Carolina, when recruiters started calling.
After relocating to central New York to be closer to family a few years later, O’Mara started searching for a permanent position that would provide a good salary and security for his family. “With private practice, you know that you have pay coming in—the security of a regular paycheck,” he says.
He was looking primarily for a permanent position, but he also considered other career options. He filled out an online request to learn more about locum tenens work and almost immediately received a call from a recruiter from CompHealth in Utah. The recruiter explained how locum tenens positions worked. O’Mara was intrigued but not ready to give up his search for a steady paycheck.
But the recruiter was persistent, checking in regularly to see if he could do anything to interest O’Mara in a trial position. “[He] did not give up,” says O’Mara about the recruiter. Although O’Mara was fielding plenty of other recruiter calls, his discussions with the CompHealth recruiter were different. “He was always very nice, professional, courteous, and he always remembered little details that no one else did,” says O’Mara.
Then one day, the recruiter called and told O’Mara, “I’ve got a place in South Carolina that could really use you for a weekend. Why don’t you give it a try?” Figuring he had little to lose since there was no commitment beyond that weekend, O’Mara agreed. “I was hooked after that,” he says.
That opportunity to work as a locum tenens physician allowed O’Mara to learn what employers expected, what the routine was like, who he would be working with, and what issues could arise. It was exactly what he needed. It helped him see that many of his preconceived notions about locum tenens were inaccurate.
Instead of working a full week for a regular paycheck, O’Mara can now decide how much he works and, effectively, how much he earns. Today, he works about two weeks away from home and then flies home and has two weeks solid with his family. In 2015, O’Mara took five straight weeks of vacation. “I couldn’t have taken that time off in private practice,” he says.
The employer perspective
Rachael Fletcher now serves as O’Mara’s key contact at CompHealth. Fletcher and O’Mara have worked together so long that their professional relationship has also become personal. “I consider him a friend,” says Fletcher.
As a friend, Fletcher has a good idea which opportunities are good fits for O’Mara and his family, and which he would never consider. She knows him so well that in some cases she can convince him to take a second look at assignments he initially would have rejected. Fletcher invested time in understanding what is important to O’Mara, and she does this with all the physicians she recruits.
During the initial interview process, Fletcher looks for key attributes. “I’m looking for someone who is trustworthy, who is going to get [his or her] paperwork in on time, and someone who is flexible,” she says. Locum tenens physicians need to be highly adaptable. They have to switch between different types of facilities and workloads. Thus, during the first call with a potential locum tenens physician, Fletcher asks a series of qualifying questions to assess how well a candidate would fit the job and how easy it would be to bring him or her on board.
Having interviewed O’Mara, the team at CompHealth knew he would quickly become in-demand, and he has. His temporary employers regularly ask him to sign a permanent contract, and he always declines. After initial hesitation, O’Mara has learned to love the locum tenens life.
Marcia Layton Turner is a frequent contributor to PracticeLink Magazine.
With the end of her training in sight, Courtney Palguta, D.O., was looking for a practice. But she wasn’t looking just anywhere—she wanted to work in a specific region.
“I trained in Michigan but knew I wanted to move to the Southeast to practice,” Palguta says. “I knew I had better start my job search early if I were to find a hospital in the Lexington area.” So the Kentucky hospitalist searched online job boards and sent CVs out in July 2014, a year before she finished training.
Applying early has its rewards. Securing a job before your training is complete is satisfying, especially if it meets your preferences. But the job search starts long before you fill out your first application. To apply early, you’ve also got to prepare early.
David Sypert, D.O., chief resident for internal medicine at OhioHealth’s Riverside Methodist Hospital, waited to request letters of recommendation. “I’d rather have developed a three-year relationship with them than a few months,” he says.
“Timing is key in the job search process,” says Donna Newman, corporate director of physician recruiting for OhioHealth. “The better prepared you are, the better organized and less pressured you are, and that results in a better impression at an interview.”
So when should you start? The answer varies.
“Ask that question, and you’ll get 10 different answers,” says Jay Woody, M.D., cofounder and chief medical officer of Legacy ER & Urgent Care in Texas. The right timing depends on your priorities, he says.
Talbot McCormick, M.D., president and CEO of Eagle Hospital Physicians in Georgia, offers this general rule of thumb: “By the time you’re in your second year of residency, you should earnestly start your job search. …If you’re in a subspecialty that’s not in demand, you may want to start earlier.”
The right timeline varies depending on your specialty, location and preferences, but this general overview will help.
Prep work: medical school through residency
Build your CV with activities
You’ll need to show potential employers that you have more than medical skills. You’ll also need to show that you have initiative, according to Yvonne Braver, M.D., program director of internal medicine for Brandon Regional Hospital in Florida.
“I suggest residents take part in as many activities as they can, beginning the first day of residency,” she says. “Participate in the recruitment season, write a journal article, get extra certification, attend a training conference, give grand rounds.” When you do, add that activity to your CV.
Said Awad, M.D., now in his first year of an internal medicine residency at Brandon Regional Hospital, started building his CV while he was in med school. He found time to join a committee of his national specialty association and even created his own mini-internship by volunteering as an observer for a researcher in his field.
“Any time you can take a leadership position, you are building your résumé in a positive direction,” says Newman.
And it’s never too early to start.
Pull your CV together
As you build your list of accomplishments and activities, make sure you track everything so your CV will be ready to go when you need it.
Woody suggests keeping your CV up to date at all times. Waiting to put it together until you’re in full job-search mode means you might forget important updates or miss out on an opportunity you weren’t expecting to become available. Review your CV every few months to make it a more manageable task.
Already have an idea of where you want to work? Touch base with the in-house recruiter there as an information-gathering or networking activity. “You’re not asking for a job at that time,” says Jay Woody, M.D. “You’re just putting yourself on their radar.”
Consider your social media activity
Be especially careful about what you post on social media. Right or wrong, society holds physicians to a higher standard than those in other professions. Anything that seems offbeat or off-color may keep you from the job you want.
For this reason, some physicians choose not to use social media at all. “I deleted my Facebook account as soon as I entered medical school,” says Awad. And David Sypert, D.O., chief resident for OhioHealth’s Riverside Methodist Hospital’s internal medicine program, says he’s never had social media accounts.
If you do use social media, be careful what you post and how you manage your privacy settings. Palguta says she’s careful about whom she selects as friends. “And I have every firewall setting turned on,” she adds.
“We do take a look at what’s on social networking sites,” says Newman. She explains that most physicians network through LinkedIn since it’s considered more professional than social. But even there, evaluate your posts carefully.
“Think twice before posting photos,” warns Braver. And don’t post anything that tears down past or present employers, colleagues or teachers. As Braver explains, “You don’t want to burn bridges.”
“Any goofy thing you post online can be viewed by a hiring authority,” says Tim Mulvaney, recruitment director for the Oregon-based recruiting firm UHC Solutions. “One off-the-cuff comment interpreted the wrong way will cost you the job you want.”
Forward momentum: residency, years 1–3
Gather recommendation letters and references
“Line up your references a year in advance,” suggests Newman. A letter from your program director is a must. Newman also suggests stepping outside the box and seeking references from head nurses.
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Ask for letters as you go. If you don’t think to ask at the time of rotation, Braver warns, “You may be chasing your tail when you need them.” Or worse, you may be unable to locate your reference in time.
Sypert did things differently. He cultivated long-term relationships before asking for letters. He explains, “I had in mind who I wanted to get letters from.” But he waited until he was in his third year before approaching them. “I’d rather have developed a three-year relationship with them than a few months,” he says.
No matter when you decide to collect letters—or from whom—choose your references wisely. It’s not just a formality—your references will be called.
“Employers will contact them and may even send a list of questions for them to answer,” Braver says. If you’re unsure how a potential reference might respond, you may not want to add his or her letter to your packet.
Put yourself out there
Now is the time to network, says Tim Lary, vice president of physician staffing for IPC Healthcare. In addition to building relationships with attending physicians and mentors, he suggests that residents go to medical and specialty society meetings. “It’s affordable and gives you an opportunity to meet a wide range of people,” Lary says.
Already have an idea of where you want to work? Touch base with the employer or in-house recruiter as an information-gathering or networking activity. “You’re not asking for a job at that time,” says Woody. “You’re just putting yourself on their radar.”
Newman recalls one physician who contacted her while he was in his second year of training. “He told me he wanted to work here when he was finished with his residency, and he continued to keep in touch every few months.” He wasn’t calling to find out about jobs. He would simply make conversation on a few topics, keeping in touch like a friend. It made an impression. Newman hired him following his residency.
Newman suggests another way to put yourself out there is to moonlight at the practice or facility where you wish to work.
Get organized—residency, years 2–3
Set your job priorities
Before you start looking for work, take time to determine exactly what it is you want to do. “Don’t accept a job just for the money,” says Braver. “Consider if you really want to work there, if it’s the kind of culture where you can thrive.”
Base your decisions not only on the type of practice, but where and how you want to work—and live. All of those factors will help guide your search.
“There are four pieces to the employment puzzle: geographic location, the practice you want, the finances you need and quality of life,” Lary explains. “Everybody’s pieces look different. You have to decide what puzzle pieces to put first.”
Discuss decisions with your family first
Many physicians aren’t making these decisions alone. “If you have a spouse or family, the most important thing you can do is sit down with them and discuss what you want to do and where you want to go,” says Newman. “Get their input before deciding where to apply.”
As an in-house recruiter, Newman has hired applicants who were disappointed to learn their spouses didn’t want to move. “Discuss your plans with everyone who may be involved,” she says. Once everyone is on board, then you can begin your job search.
“We used to interview spouses when we interviewed the applicant,” Lary says. “It’s that important for everyone to be on the same page.” And as more physician-couples emerge on the scene, there’s extra pressure to make employment decisions together, not as independent individuals.
Start researching opportunities
Once you and your family have discussed priorities and locations, start researching jobs.
Start your search on PracticeLink.com for opportunities by profession, specialty and geographic interest area. Create a profile there to create, store and send your CV and receive alerts of new jobs that match your preferences.
Also check in with colleagues, mentors or other professional contacts who work at the places you want to work. “They may know of opportunities through the grapevine,” says Andrew Murphy, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist and medical director of Legacy ER & Urgent Care who took time after residency to earn his MBA. “You can also call the in-house recruiter there and ask what kind of opportunities might be available by the time you leave training,” he adds.
Another option is to network with potential employers at your specialty’s conference. Murphy says employers and recruiters sometimes go to these conferences to find physicians to hire. Sypert has found job fairs and recruiting events organized by local hospital systems a good avenue for finding openings. “I plan to stay in the area, so I’m looking at local opportunities,” he says.
Consider your schedule
Try to schedule some flexible rotations in the fall so you’ll have time to travel and meet with potential employers.
“That’s not always easy to do,” says Murphy. “Residency is pretty demanding, but you might be able to find someone who will work your shift for you. It’s easier if you plan to stay in the area; you can schedule an interview on your day off. If you have to travel for interviews, that can be harder. I know residents who were looking for work in another area, and they scheduled as many interviews as possible in the time they had.”
How are in-house recruiters and agency recruiters different?
In-house physician recruiters are employed by the health care facility they represent to find candidates for the opportunities there.
In-house recruiters usually live in the communities they serve, making them uniquely qualified to determine which providers will be good long-term fits. They are primarily paid salaries from the organization, not a commission based on hires.
Third-party, agency or search firm recruiters are contracted by a health care organization to find candidates for a fee.
Retained firms are paid an ongoing stipend to conduct searches on behalf of the hiring organizations.
Contingency firms are paid on a per-candidate basis—sometimes upwards of $20,000 per candidate the organization end up hiring.
It’s your choice if you decide to work directly with the hospital through an in-house recruiter or through a third-party agency. Both types of recruiters post their opportunities on PracticeLink.com to give you access to the most comprehensive list of available jobs in your specialty. When you search for a job on PracticeLink, you’ll see three tabs of results: In-house, Agency and Both, which combines all opportunities.
Brian Brown is the manager of PracticeLink’s physician relations department.
If you’re planning a vacation, you might visit the area where you’re looking for work. While Murphy was vacationing in Florida, he took time to do some interviews. “I’m from that area and thought I might look around and see what’s there,” he says. He called various facilities ahead of time and scheduled tours, which became impromptu interviews. Although he decided to stay in Texas, he did receive offers in Florida.
Final countdown—residency, year 3
Send out your CV. You’ve done your research, you’ve made connections and you know where the jobs are. Around July in the final year of your residency, you can start sending your CV to the potential employers on your list.
Contact recruiters and potential employers. Once you’ve sent your CV, it’s your job as the candidate to keep the lines of communication open. “Find time to meet with the recruiter, and be honest when answering questions,” Mulvaney advises.
Don’t forget to follow up with them. “That was the most surprising part of the job-search process,” says Palguta. “I sent résumés, and I heard from one recruiter right away. But a couple of others didn’t respond at all. I had to call them to see if they received my résumé.”
…But don’t stalk your recruiter. “They’re doing the best they can to find you the position you want,” Mulvaney says. “It doesn’t help if you’re contacting them several times a day.”
Generally, it’s appropriate to reach out if you haven’t heard back within a week or two after sending your CV.
Prepare for interviews. While you wait to hear about opportunities, use your free time to prepare for interviews. “Research the company, and be able to tell them of any difficulties they’re experiencing and how you can be part of the solution,” Mulvaney suggests.
Practice is also key. “We went through mock interviews during training,” Sypert says. “It taught us how to present ourselves and our best qualities.”
September and October
Interview. “Make the time to present yourself professionally,” Woody says. Look the part—there is such a thing as too casual.
“When I was touring facilities in Florida, I heard people tell me, ‘I don’t feel like I need to interview you because you look like you’re serious about a job,’” Murphy says. “I showed up in a suit and polished my shoes. That’s all it took.”
Interviews also provide an opportunity to experience workplace culture and see how you’ll fit in, says Palguta. “Make sure it’s a good fit for you before you move on with the process,” she suggests.
But don’t approach interviews with the wrong attitude. Lary says, “We want people who come here for the opportunity, not to see if they want the job.” And Woody advises, “Don’t appear overconfident.”
Follow up after interviews. Send a thank-you note after each interview. “It should reflect the conversation you had and that you’re grateful for the opportunity,” says Braver.
Braver says that an email note will do, but Murphy and Sypert say they always handwrite a message. “I think it’s appreciated because most people these days don’t take the time to send handwritten notes,” says Murphy.
Awad suggests waiting two weeks before contacting the employer for their decision, and Murphy and Palguta say they would likely contact an employer after a week. However, Sypert says he never needed to do any follow-ups. “The employer did a good job providing a general timeline regarding the interview process,” he says.
Newman says applicants should ask at the interview when they can expect to hear from the employer. “If you didn’t ask, and you haven’t heard from the employer after two weeks, then call and ask if you’re still being considered for the job,” she says.
November and December
Inform your potential employers of your decision. Just as you don’t want an employer to delay the hiring decision, your employer doesn’t want you to delay yours. “Let the employer know within a few weeks of a job offer,” advises Newman. “You don’t want to leave the organization hanging.”
And you don’t want to miss out on a job opportunity, says Woody, even if you’re considering more than one offer. “If you play hard to get, you don’t get gotten,” adds Mulvaney. “You may miss an opportunity because the interviewer thinks you don’t want the job.”
But before you can accept a job, you have to get one. This timeline should help. As most experts and newly employed physicians will tell you, jumpstarting your job search is a good idea.
“If you delay the process, it could delay your license, your start date, and a first paycheck,” says Palguta. “Having a gap between your residency and your first job might work for some. …But if you need a paycheck when you’re through training, you need to start your job search early.”
In most professions, job applicants prepare and submit a standard two-page résumé to potential employers. But physicians, like senior executives, attorneys, professors and scientists, must have the longer, more detailed description provided by a curriculum vitae or “CV” if they want to be seriously considered for a new opportunity.
What’s the difference?
When it comes to résumés, the timeworn axiom “less is more” usually applies. Beginning job-seekers are regularly instructed to keep their résumés short—no more than two pages. But a CV is expected to be longer. Think of it like gold, assayed for content and weight. An experienced professional will bring a CV heavy with impressive details, and it will usually prove more valuable. On the other hand, padding a less-experienced professional’s CV with extraneous information will devalue the document and reduce your chances for serious consideration.
5 CV tips
Design your CV to catch attention and heighten curiosity. The more specifically tailored it is to what you are trying to catch, the more success you will have.
1 Be practical. Prefer function over fashion. Your primary goal is the delivery of information—so make your CV able to be skimmed quickly and effectively.
2 Use keywords. Modern HR departments use software to search through CVs primarily by keywords and job requirements. Using buzz words and applicable clinical terms can increase your visibility immensely. List certifications in full as well as abbreviated. For example: “American College of Emergency Professionals (ACEP).”
3 Include contact information. This section is incomplete more often than you would imagine. Give multiple contact methods—your cell and email at a minimum.
4 Showcase your extracurricular activities. Volunteering, hobbies, awards, accomplishments and association involvement are all great tidbits to add that will add a little about your personality.
5 Remember—a CV itself doesn’t equal a new job. The goal of your CV is to be noticed so you have the opportunity to interview and sell yourself in person. CVs that are too long or too detailed can work against you, as the important bits might be looked over.
Derek Sawyer is a physician recruiter for EmCare, Alliance Group (EmCare.com), where he staffs full- and part-time emergency/hospitalist physicians nationwide.
Second-year psychiatry resident Lauren Pengrin, D.O., who is finishing up her training at Washington, D.C.’s St. Elizabeths Hospital, won a PracticeLink CV makeover last year from experts at Resume Orbit after attending a PracticeLink Live! event. (Find one near you at PracticeLink.com/JobFair.)
Her first efforts to construct a CV had her cruising the Internet for templates and advice without any personal help. To be thorough, she included every little detail about her educational experience she could think of.
During her CV makeover process, though, she learned that packing your CV with insignificant details does more harm than good. It interrupts the flow of your document and obscures your main message.
Critical-care pulmonologist Peter Tofts, M.D., agrees: “Too much detail—especially up front—becomes just ‘white noise’ that masks who you really are.” Tofts began his first private-practice job this past year with Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle in Columbus, Mississippi.
“While résumés tend to focus on previous job history and performance, a CV places greater emphasis on education, training, board certification, publications and presentations,” says Jack Valancy, a Cleveland, Ohio-based practice management consultant who specializes in physician career coaching.
In addition to the components usually found in a résumé, a professional CV will typically include additional features like:
Medical licenses, board certifications or eligibility
Relevant course work
Scientific or academic research, laboratory experience, grants received
Papers, books and other related publications you have written
Academic or professional presentations delivered
Travel/exposure to relevant cultural experiences
Related extracurricular activities, professional and association memberships
Additional information that may support and demonstrate your qualifications
Other professional development efforts you have undertaken
The longer you have been practicing, the longer your CV will be. An experienced physician—especially one involved in academia—may have a CV extending to 20 or more pages.
However, if you’re just getting started, don’t be distracted by any epic CVs you have seen. Instead, stick to constructing a succinct—but thorough—picture of who you are and what you want. In other words, stay focused on your main message.
Your main message
Have you ever stopped to consider a CV’s main purpose? You wouldn’t undertake any other writing project without knowing what you were trying to accomplish!
Of course, candidates hope that impressive CVs will help them land the jobs of their dreams, but CVs can’t get you a job. In your search for your next practice, a CV can only get you one thing: an interview. Keeping that in mind can help you decide what to include and how to organize your document.
Think of your CV like a highly specialized brochure designed to pique an employer’s interest in you. Hopefully your CV will catch the eye of someone and make them want to meet you face-to-face, or at least to invest in a phone call with you.
Lauren Pengrin, D.O., won a CV makeover after attending a PracticeLink Live! event. “My revised CV was clearly better than my original one, which was more academic. The finished product is more employment oriented,” she says.
Pengrin points out the CV’s two-fold aim: “First, to present an accurate picture of your skills, credentials and ambitions; and second, to help the employer recognize how well you will fit the job opening.”
Your CV therefore becomes an important part of the first impression you make on decision-makers who have the power to offer you a job. You’ll want your main message to be positive (showing your strengths and assets), dynamic (avoiding static and passive phrasing) and above all, accurate. Making a false first impression is a recipe for disaster—a good fit requires openness and honesty.
When constructing your CV, keep these three questions in mind to make sure your main message comes through:
Who are you?
Certainly you will want potential employers to recognize your training, credentials and experience. Your CV lists the ingredients that make up you. Leaving out key components is one of the fastest ways to end up in a recruiter’s “reject” pile.
Mike Andrews, chief operations officer at OCH Regional Medical Center in Starkville, Mississippi, doesn’t see very many instant rejects these days.
“But I will quickly disregard CVs that are too short or have gaps in educational and employment timelines,” he says. “The same holds true for disorganized or poorly formatted CVs and those that contain obvious typos or other errors.”
What do you want?
The facts you choose to highlight and emphasize in your CV can provide clues about your ideal practice setting, career path and lifestyle. Tofts credits a family member for helping him understand the need for keeping his CV simple and highlighting the things important to him. He made sure that accomplishments of which he was most proud stood out loud and clear.
Keep your sentences short and direct. “Make the high points easy to see, and make sure your training and background are prominent and clear,” says Peter Tofts, M.D.
You have to present your work history and educational pathway in chronological order, of course, but you can emphasize the responsibilities and achievements you consider significant. If you bullet your accomplishments at a given position, start with the most important. You can use bold-faced or italicized typefaces judiciously for added emphasis. But be careful: If you emphasize everything, you’ll actually emphasize nothing.
Who is your audience?
Picture the recipient of your CV. What is he or she looking for in a physician? This requires some research on your part. The more you know about the job you’re applying for, the more accurately you will picture the employer’s ideal candidate.
“Tailor your message to your prospective employer,” Valancy advises his clients. “Do some Internet research. Ask your professional network about the organization. What type of organization is it: a large teaching hospital? A community hospital? A physician-staffing company or a physician-owned independent practice?”
“Does the organization have a mission? Who does it serve? Once you have an idea of what the organization is all about, use your CV to describe how you can help fulfill its mission and serve its community,” says Valancy.
Keep in mind that CVs can develop a life of their own. Recruiters and hiring organizations sometimes share CVs with each other after they’ve filled their own positions. That’s as good a reason as any to ensure your CV and cover letter are positive and truthful, without editorializing on less-than-desirable past employment experiences.
How are résumés and CVs alike?
Even experienced job-seekers confuse these closely related words—and for good reason.
First, both terms refer to written summaries of your work history, training and experience, and most employers want to see one or the other before they will consider interviewing you for an open position. Second, unlike most words in English, both of these terms have retained the original spelling and form of their respective languages. Résumé, used in American and Canadian English since the 1940s, is a word that means “summed up” in French; curriculum vitae, first used around 1905, means “course of life” in Latin.
Résumé isn’t widely used outside North America to describe a job applicant’s work history. Employers in the United Kingdom and related nations usually use CV to refer to both simple résumés and complex CVs. But in America, the curriculum vitae can differ considerably from a résumé.
Both documents will typically include a chronological work history highlighting jobs, responsibilities and accomplishments. Both will describe your formal education and relevant training and certifications. For either document, you will want to include your outstanding achievements, honors and awards. Both will include some level of personal details like hobbies, interests and community involvement.
Setting things in order
Don’t get too creative when you sit down to format your CV. A quick Google Image search on “formatting a CV” will serve up several screens full of examples, many of which could land yours in the “weirdo” pile.
Stick to a format that looks professional, dignified and well within expected standards. Avoid creative touches of color or graphics, and don’t insert your photo—some organizations even cut photos from CVs to avoid discrimination accusations.
“Use clear, easy-to-read fonts,” says Valancy. Most experts advise sticking with standard fonts like Times New Roman or Arial, sized at 11 or 12 points. You can use slightly larger typefaces for headlines and subheadings. In fact, your name should appear at the top of your first page in a large font, centered with your title, and your primary contact information centered immediately beneath it.
It’s a good idea for your name, email and preferred phone number to appear on every page. Use your word processor’s header feature (or footer, if you prefer) to include this information throughout the document.
Most professional CVs use the first paragraph below your name and contact information to provide an introductory profile of the candidate. This short summary deserves more time and effort than you might think. In fact, it’s so important that you should consider getting help from an accomplished writer.
Your opening, says Valancy, concisely delivers your elevator speech: a crisp, clear description of who you are and what you want in as few words as possible. That requires some real writing skill, but it’s your chance to highlight your priorities and values from the outset. A powerful introduction leaves the reader wanting to know more about you.
Most CVs—like résumés—follow on with a chronological listing of the candidate’s education and work experience. Make absolutely sure that all your “from” and “to” dates appear with no unexplained gaps. If you’ve experienced any career interruption, don’t try to hide it or gloss over it. You don’t want a potential employer suspecting that you have something to hide.
Your timeline provides another opportunity to highlight what’s important to you. Include bullet lists of activities and accomplishments with appropriate entries. If, for example, you are seeking an academic appointment, list publications, research projects and experiences as an instructor while you participated in each program. (If you’ve been published more than a few times, you may want to list the individual articles in an appendix rather than clutter up your timeline with too much detail.)
Pengrin described her CV both before and after the PracticeLink makeover: “My revised CV was clearly better than my original one, which was more academic. The finished product is more employment oriented. It now focuses more on the skills I’ve developed and the particular areas of psychiatry I’ve been working in—and how that would be marketable to potential employers. It has less detail about all the various activities of my academic career. A future employer wants to see more about your recent work, what kind of system you’re used to dealing with—even what kind of EHR you’ve used.”
Wrapping it up with style
After the chronological section, most professionals add lists of publications, research projects, grants and similar professional accomplishments. It’s appropriate to include lists of awards and honors, as well as professional societies, academies and organizations in which you’ve held memberships. Be sure to include any leadership positions you’ve held as well.
Anyone with Internet access can easily figure out what an average CV should look like these days, so it can prove a little more challenging to make yours stand out in the crowd.
Constructing your CV
Inspecting the layout of each document reveals some important clues. Here are the general headings for each:
Licensure & certifications
Publications & presentations
Professional experience (with teaching and research experience usually integrated)
Special interests (optional)
—Excerpted from “Résumé vs. CV: Do you know the difference?” by Anish Majumdar. Read more at PracticeLink.com.
OCH’s Mike Andrews notes, “I almost never get a ‘trash’ CV anymore. New graduates have more resources and help to lean on, so the bar has been permanently raised.”
Pengrin learned to add punch to her CV by paying attention to details like writing style and sentence structure. Avoid passive voice and static statements (sentences with some form of “to be” as the main verb).
Keep your sentences short and direct. Tofts agrees: “Make the high points easy to see, and make sure your training and background are prominent and clear.”
After you’ve spent all that time and effort creating your masterpiece, don’t shortchange your cover letter. Granted, few CVs and résumés arrive at employers’ offices via snail mail; most applicants use email or upload their CVs to websites. Email cover letters tend to be terse acknowledgments (Attached please find my CV.) But there’s still a place for a well-written cover letter.
“Even though most job-search correspondence happens through email, a follow-up via first-class mail can make a positive impression,” Valancy observes.
Whether you decide to use paper or pixels, spend time honing your cover-letter message. When asked for advice about cover letters, Pengrin says, “Get professional help. Sometimes it’s hard for us physicians to admit when we need help, but it’s OK to admit we’re not experts in everything.”
Valancy offers several points to keep in mind for your cover letter:
Start by thanking the employer (or its representative) for the opportunity to learn about the job.
Summarize once again your training, skills and experience, as well as the type of position you seek.
Suggest possible dates for scheduling an interview.
State clearly when you will be available to start working.
Finally, when researching desirable jobs and organizations, dig deep enough to discover the right contact person for the position—and address them personally.
Avoid submitting CVs blindly to organizations advertising new positions. If possible, reach out by phone to the proper contact person and ask him or her to keep an eye out for your CV.
Taking those “next steps” like placing a preliminary phone call or mailing a carefully worded follow-up letter will make an impression. And anyone in advertising will tell you that top-of-mind consciousness can make all the difference in the world.
Work: Assistant professor, Department of Health Promotion and Social and Behavioral Health at University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health
Undergraduate: University of Minnesota
Med School: University of Chicago
Master of Public Health: Harvard School of Public Health
Growing up, Renaisa Anthony, M.D., MPH wanted to become a veterinarian. But when her undergrad funding ran out, she took a research job and returned frequently to her hometown of Detroit. “That’s when I started to see what I now call health disparities,” she says. “We really did not have doctors that understood the community and limitations of poverty.”
Renaisa Anthony, M.D., MPH, first had her sights on becoming a veterinarian—but transitioned to a career in public health after becoming aware of the health disparities in her hometown, Detroit
She decided then to become a physician to help improve communities. “As I progressed through medical school, it became very clear that taking care of people without insurance and under sourced communities was going to be a challenge,” she says. “I had a really great mentor who said he thought I would be interested in public health.”
Today, Anthony is a dedicated public health physician with numerous awards and accomplishments, including a TEDx Talk, National Medical Association’s Top Doctor Under 40 Award (2011), and the U.S. Surgeon General Award for Outstanding Service on the Prevention of Preterm Birth Conference (2008).
What do you like best about working in public health?
It’s all about health promotion and disease prevention. In addition, it’s about transforming the health of communities in large groups versus one patient at a time.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your role?
Monetary resources on prevention are very limited, and we invest a lot of funding into the treatment of disease. One of the things I’ve accomplished and am most proud of is working with legislators on Capitol Hill regarding the Affordable Care Act. I had the opportunity to testify before Congress on behalf of my patients. To be honest, I boycotted medicine and said I will not proudly wear my white coat until I can proudly take care of people based on their health status and not their insurance status.
What opportunities are available to public health physicians?
I think the sky is really the limit. First of all, I think it’s important to recognize the differences between public health and medicine.
Public health is population-based and community-oriented, whereas primary care is individualized…one patient at a time.
Also, financially, there’s a difference. A doctor who works full time in medicine probably earns more than a public health physician. I don’t make $300,000 a year. I make half of that, but I’m much happier with what I do. I feel my impact is greater.
The biggest question is…is this right for me? How would I fit in with public health? How committed am I to populations versus individuals?
Why did you choose public health?
It fit very well with the intentions I had. I could visualize the communities because I was disadvantaged. I thought of my family, friends and my own health care. My primary health care as a child was getting immunized in the emergency room. I learned later on that by becoming a doctor as well as a public health practitioner, I could take care of people and really have focus on improving population health.
Is there anything that surprised you about your career move?
It’s been a learning curve to understand the currency in academia, which is publications, grants and research combined with education and service. I would say I am very strong in education and service because that’s what I was doing anyway. However, translational, community-based and participatory research that’s really informed by the needs of the community has been a learning curve I didn’t have prior to this. I had a passion and I knew what some of the issues were, but it took me asking the right questions, partnering with the appropriate people and having the right mentors to learn that. I’m still learning how to do that effectively.
People in public health are really passionate about what they do. They are willing to continue doing it even in a fiscal environment where public health departments are constantly having their budgets cut. Public health physicians have to pool resources to be successful, and I didn’t necessarily know that. I work with so many people in public health whether they are in my specialty or not.
What’s your advice for physicians considering public health?
Explore the mission statements of public health schools and find one that resonates. Identify a population they are interested in. For me, it was women and children. There needs to be a population they are passionate about who they can read about, work for, advocate for and direct their attention to. I think it’s also helpful to find mentors—people who do similar work who you can shadow or do informational interviews with. It’s a myriad of experiences that developed into exploring this field.
Be in tune with what your purpose and passion is, and don’t be apologetic for it. Once you do that, follow your heart, be open to the opportunities that come your way, and be willing to take risks. I walked away from a career that, by the time I was 40, I could have been a millionaire. That was hard to do especially coming from an impoverished background. I knew that if I followed my heart and was good at what I did, the money would come. So, I didn’t focus on money. I focused on impact.