How Your Residency Can Launch You Into Your First Job

By PracticeLink | Web Exclusive

 

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Think of a person in your life—or perhaps several—without whom you wouldn’t have selected a career in medicine or pushed through when you felt underwater with work. Someone who encouraged you in residency or told you years ago that you had what it took to become a physician.

Maybe it was a peer, a friend or a mentor. In the same way that other people helped you get to where you are today, the best way to make it to your future goals is by enlisting the help of others.

People who thrive have support networks. When you have a challenge ahead of you, such as a job search, you want to have people on your team.  People on your team are people who you can call to help you tackle action items on your list—providing references, sharing job leads, evaluating an offer—or they are people who can help you with the mental and emotional labor of job searching, giving you the encouragement and kudos you need to push through. In fact, getting crystal clear regarding who is on your team—and going as far as writing down who can help you with what—will be both comforting and time-saving when you need to get something done. You’ll know exactly who to call.

Here’s some good news: your starting lineup is right in front of you. You can work with your fellow residents, your program director, and your fellowship leader to network, find job openings, and nail down the right opportunity.

Look to the program director or the residency director. If you have an existing relationship, you can tap these individuals in leadership roles for advice, job leads, references, recommendation letters, and introductions to employment attorneys who can help you parse through your offer letters.

Residency and fellowship colleagues are also some of your best potential job-search teammates because they are often job searching at the same time as you. Although it may seem as though they’re your competition, they’re not. Your fellow residents may be able to put you in touch with the recruiter for a job they didn’t take, or they may have come across other opportunities through their searches that weren’t a fit for them, but could be your dream practice.

Be proactive about creating an environment where you and your peers share information and experiences, so that you and others can see what kind of offers are coming in. As you are job searching, you can elevate others around you by sharing information about upcoming job fairs, introducing other residents to recruiters you’ve met, and passing along links to job opportunities that may be of interest to someone in your cohort.

Deepak Chopra, M.D., a popular author and speaker on alternative medicine, is quoted as saying: “Giving connects two people, the giver and the receiver, and this connection gives birth to a new sense of belonging.” It’s a good approach to networking, and it’s doctor’s orders.

 

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Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Job Opportunity

By PracticeLink | Web Exclusive

 

Thinking young woman

Once you find an opportunity you’re interested in and you’re on site for an interview, it’s definitely cause for excitement. But you’re not at the finish line yet. Before you sign an offer, and ideally before you start thinking about money, you want to investigate whether this opportunity is the right fit for you, for your professional goals, and for your approach to work. The best way to get this clarity is to ask questions.

The in-house recruiter for the organization where you are interviewing will be one of your best allies. He or she will be responsible for communicating with you, providing abundant information about the opportunity, and lining up interviews with multiple team members during your on site visit. Make the most of your relationship with in-house recruiters by asking as many questions as possible. You can also talk to the practice administrator, physicians currently employed by the practice, and the organization’s leadership.

Not sure what you need to know, or how to phrase your questions? Read on for questions to pose when evaluating a job opportunity and why these questions are important as you consider offers on the table.

“How is this practice run?”

Rather, this is an umbrella question that encompasses a number of more specific questions about how the practice operates and the support staff available to help each day run smoothly. Consider asking more granular questions for the practice administrator such as, “Is there enough clinical staff to support me?” or “What support staff do you have in place?”

“Can I speak with every physician in the practice?”

If you are considering joining a smaller practice, it may be in your best interest to speak with every physician in the practice you’re considering—whether on the phone, in person, or both. Being prevented from speaking with any physician could be a red flag.

“How would you describe the culture here?”

When you speak with other physicians currently employed by the practice, you should ask questions about the culture of the organization. More casually, ask questions that will inform your understanding of, How we do things around here. Ask questions such as, “How happy are you with the practice?” or “Do you feel you can trust the administration?” and “How long have you been here?”

“What are some of the organization’s policies?”

You’ll definitely want to know about policies governing things like overtime and moonlighting at the hospital or clinic. Some places don’t offer moonlighting… and if it’s not in your contract, you can’t modify it. Ask in advance of drawing up a contract. Of course, you’ll also want to ask: “How often will I receive feedback, and from whom?”

“Is this a growth position, or is this job available because a physician left?”

If the opportunity is a replacement of a previous physician, find out why that physician left. If this is a newly-created position, talk with one of the leaders of the organization—the CEO, president or vice president—to get a feel for their plans for the system. Questions could include: “Where do you see the organization heading?” and “Are there any challenges that accompany this growth?” If you feel like you are really clicking with the organization and the people you’re meeting, ask for a forecast: “What kind of opportunities for career growth might there be, three years down the line?”

 

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Five CV Sections to Show Your Human Side

By PracticeLink | Web Exclusive

 

Job interview

Anish Majumdar, Certified Professional Resume Writer, specializes in helping physicians create CVs that stand out from the competition. He describes five additional sections physicians can add to their CV to make their personality jump off the page.

Physician recruiters look at untold numbers of CVs every week. Naturally, they want to see CVs that are well-organized and that require little guesswork as to the physician’s current position. Ideally, though, your CV should show more than just your credentials. Your CV should show who you are and what you’re looking for in your career.

Addressing some of these points within the CV is a powerful way to make a great impression even before you get to the interview. To foster a connection with the reader and offer a glimpse of your life beyond scrubs, consider adding some or all of the following sections to your CV.

Doctor’s Philosophy

Incorporate a “Doctor’s Philosophy” statement at the beginning of your CV that addresses how you approach the job. Consider these examples:

Providing compassionate, quality cancer care and giving patients the knowledge to make the most empowered decisions about their diagnoses.

Or:

My philosophy of care is to treat each patient as I would treat my own family. I grew up watching my father, a surgeon, take as much time as necessary to build relationships with patients and their families, and establish trust. It’s a lesson I carry on today.

Include Quotes from Patient Surveys

Let your quality of care speak for itself by including excerpts from patient surveys on your CV. Create a section on your CV for snippets from anonymous patient surveys. Consider these examples:

“She takes her time with me, doesn’t rush me, and she explains everything very well.”

Or:

“James Wilson is great—the most caring and compassionate surgeon I have ever had! He gave me real hope for a successful outcome, which I so needed!”

Non-Clinical Interests

Consider adding a section to your CV for “Non-Clinical Interests.”  This section would detail the aspects of healthcare that interest you and that contribute to your well-roundedness as a health professional. For example:

Interested in organized medicine and advocacy; public speaking; non-profit organizations; health care delivery, cost effectiveness and quality; health care administration.

Volunteering/Community Involvement

Include a “Volunteering /Community Involvement” section at the end of the resume, and briefly elaborate on major initiatives and projects you took on. For example:

Spearhead our neighborhood’s annual ALS awareness fundraiser 5k run/walk. Participate in the Big Brothers program of Greater Chicago.

“Special Interests”

Include a “Special Interests” section at the end of the CV listing things you like to do outside of work. Example:

Mountain biking, classic movies, hiking, gardening.

As more and more organizations examine the culture of their workplaces in relation to their profitability, and consider “culture fit” an important criteria for hiring, it’s helpful if your CV shows a bit of your character and personality.

 

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Six Months to Landing a New Job

By PracticeLink | Web Exclusive

 

Job Search

You have a full plate when it comes to your job search. You’ll need to update your CV, network through recruiters, and pay close attention to licensing and credentialing tasks. Luckily, if you approach your job search with a plan and chunk the process into specific tasks to tackle each month, the process will feel much more manageable.

If you’re a new physician, experts suggest a reasonable target date for securing your first position is six months prior to June graduation. That means your timeline should begin at least a year earlier. Land that job in six months by following these monthly steps:

July: Prepare your job search essentials.

Identify your job must-haves, establish a strategy, and review your file. Get your CV and cover letter in shape, and contact primary source individuals who might forward information about you. (That includes ECFMG if you’re internationally trained.) If anything needs to be addressed, now is the time to do so. You should also identify and reach out to superiors and peers who might write your reference letters.

August: Cast your net.

Once you’ve established your priorities, contact any person or organization that can help you target an opportunity. Physician recruiters, former colleagues and individual health organizations, as well as career fairs, journal ads and website postings on PracticeLink.com all make good resources. While doing so, review the medical/osteopathic board websites of the states you’ve targeted. Whether you anticipate staying put or moving on, you need to know what you need to provide and when you need to provide it.

September: Stay one step ahead of the licensing process.

Assemble the primary source information and contacts you’ll need for a full license application. If you plan to use the FCVS, get the process underway. If you were born and trained in another country, you need to start as early as possible to meet the nuanced demands of the state visa requirements. Ask physicians in your program if they can recommend an attorney who is skilled with immigration and employment topics.

October: Suit up.

By October, it’s likely that you’ve already been on a few on-site interviews. In addition to having your “power outfit,” you should also have a “power notepad” for taking notes at every interview. Each interview is a fact-finding mission: you want to explore whether the hospital’s culture is right for you and whether the position is a match for your career goals. If you begin to get a sense during one of your on-site interviews that the position is not a fit, you still want to make a strong impression. Regardless of which offer you accept, your interviews are an opportunity to grow your professional network.

November: Sign on the line.

Ideally by this point, you have secured an offer and put the finishing touches on a contract. Now you need to close the loop with the licensure board by completing the application, demonstrating that you’ve taken any required tests or mini-courses, and following up on requests.

December: Finalize your paperwork.

If you’re entering a new year with a contract in hand, you still have a six-month window before starting your new position. That’s ample time to tie up any licensing and credentialing loose ends, such as securing your DEA number, hospital privileges, and certification for billing Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. If you’re applying in multiple states, you’ll want to allow plenty of time to meet each one’s requirements. Whatever your circumstance, “the earlier the better” is a rule to live by.

 

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Three Ways to Stand Out to Physician Recruiters

By PracticeLink | Web Exclusive

 

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Though the M.D. after your name does designate medical expertise and years of hard work, it’s still important to think strategically about your job search and consider how you can stand out. You must convey to employers what, beyond your degree, makes you a good candidate and a good culture fit. This is true now more than ever, as increasing numbers of physicians seek hospital employment rather than private practice opportunities.

As you outline your job search plan, be sure to incorporate these tricks and strategies so you have the strongest shot at landing your first-choice position. Taking the time to consider how you can present your experience in a thoughtful way, and going after opportunities in a creative way, is what separates the 95 percent of candidates who land something from the 5 percent who land the very best.

Make your CV skimmable.

Clarity equals credibility in the world of CVs. No recruiter wants to open a physician’s CV and have to spend the next 20 minutes going line by line to figure out the timeline. Is your CV easy to skim? Gigantic paragraphs don’t work on CVs. It’s an appetizer, not the main course. (Your on-site interview is the main course.) Keep lines short and action-oriented and use bullets liberally.

Use your CV to tell a story about your background and experience.

Create a narrative with your CV. Try to see your CV as a storytelling device: where did you start, what was the journey, and how did the hero (you) succeed in the end? To tell this story, go into detail about procedures and appointment specifics. Go beyond your credentials: how did you add value? You can describe how you uniquely contribute through bullet points chock-full of concise details.

Proactively reach out to recruiters.

There are two main ways to get in touch with recruiters. One quick way is to fill out a profile on PracticeLink.com. This way, in-house recruiters can contact you directly, and you can reach out directly to them by using the contact information on any job posting, or applying through the site.

Another way to get in touch is through the PracticeLink Employer Directory. (Access it by clicking “View All Employers by State” on the PracticeLink.com homepage.) From there, you can click to any employer’s PracticeLink page and find an in-house recruiter’s contact information. (You can also see which specialties that employer is seeking.)

By making first contact, you show recruiters that you are proactive about your search and serious about accelerating your career and finding your new opportunity.

 

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What You Need to Know about Employer-Sponsored Loan Repayment

By PracticeLink | Web Exclusive

 

Loan Repayment

Something most physicians face right after training is a student loan burden. Student loans—often amounting to a figure north of $100,000 for physicians finishing their training—is a stressor. It’s generally something that undergraduates give considerable thought to before they even start medical school.

Thus, it’s a relief when employers offer loan repayment as part of their physician employment contracts. As you evaluate your job offers, you’ll want to know the ins-and-outs of what to look for in a loan repayment agreement.

First, some employers categorically don’t offer loan repayment. It’s not a given that an employer will offer loan repayment, so if this is an important item for you, make sure that you talk about it with the physician recruiter who has been guiding you through the hiring process.

Meanwhile, other employers recognize that loan repayment is appealing to candidates and they offer loan repayment plans to attract top talent. If you are considering an opportunity with an employer who offers loan repayment plans, you will want to ask some specific questions to understand what they will contribute and what the terms are.

Over what period of time will the loan will be paid?

What is the aggregate amount that the employer will be willing to provide for the loan repayment?

What “triggers” exist for those loan payments to be made? Will the loan be repaid on a monthly basis? Quarterly? Annually?

Sometimes employers will stipulate that physicians must work for the organization for a year, and the employer will retroactively pay for that year’s loan payments, sending money directly to the loan company. This may be an annual procedure: work for a year, and your employer pays for your loans at the close of the contract year. Whatever the arrangement, employer student loan repayment translates to significant value for physicians outside of their annual salary. (LINK TO BRUCE ARMON- PERKS ARTICLE).

To learn more about employer-sponsored student loan repayment, and other elements of a “home-run” employment contract, watch this video interview with attorney Bruce Armon. Armon specializes in health care law, specifically employment contracts for both physicians and health care employers.

 

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How to Negotiate Your Bonus

By PracticeLink | Web Exclusive

 

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You likely understand the importance of negotiating your salary, to start your career with the best annual salary that you and your employer can agree upon. Once you’ve come to a figure you’re both happy with, train your focus on your bonus. Believe it or not, your bonus is another area for negotiation.

Negotiating your bonus doesn’t just put more money in your pocket. It can also increase your perceived value as a candidate. When a physician negotiates his or her bonus, it shows how much the physician is willing to bet on him or herself. This may incentivize the employer to feel that they can do better financially and increase the offer.

There are few different ways that a bonus figure is calculated. Before you make your counter-offer, understand the metrics of how your bonus is calculated. A bonus can represent a physician’s work activities, financial contributions to the practice, or overall productivity. These should be quantitative figures. Thus, you’ll want to ask: What are the thresholds to achieve the bonus?

There are several other pieces of information that you’ll want to know to make an informed argument for a bigger bonus. Ask questions such as, “How likely is it that I’ll achieve the bonus?” If you do achieve the bonus, you’ll want to know the frequency. Will the bonus be monthly, quarterly, or paid at the end of the contract year?

As you grow in your career, you’ll want your bonus to grow with you. Thus, you can ask: “How might the bonus be adjusted in subsequent years?”

In the course of the conversation, you’re not just talking about bonus opportunities: you’re having a bigger discussion about your intention to do great work, to exceed expectations, and to contribute to the practice. When you reframe bonus negotiation in this way, of course employers will want to do what it takes to land you on their team: you’re already talking about achieving excellence in your practice.

To learn more about negotiating your bonus, and other elements of a “home-run” employment contract, watch this video interview with attorney Bruce Armon. Armon specializes in health care law, specifically employment contracts for both physicians and health care employers.

 

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Recruiter Spotlight – Brad Strader

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Brad StraderMeet: Brad Strader, executive director of the Buena Vista Regional Healthcare Foundation

Employer: Buena Vista Regional Medical Center, Storm Lake, Iowa

Why did you choose to become a physician recruiter? My work with the Foundation is highly involved in developing relationships with those that would consider financially supporting our organization.

The process for recruitment is no different in that you search for prospects, develop relationships and then “make the ask.” So I was asked to be a part of developing connections that could get us ahead of the curve in recruitment, which so far, is working fairly well.

What’s your favorite part of recruiting physicians? Getting to meet “the best and the brightest,” and the variety this aspect of my work offers.

What’s your best piece of advice for physicians in their job search? In a rural setting, get to know the people you will work with and those in the community. They certainly want to get to know you!

What can physicians look forward to in your community? You can build life-long professional relationships and friendships.

 

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Contracts – The Basics

By Debbie Gleason | Web Exclusive

 

Many organizations have contracts or physician employment agreements (PEAs) that have key components that are similar and may contain ‘standard language’ that is non-negotiable.  In this article, I’ll list some of the key elements for you to begin considering in advance as you prepare for negotiations.  Most importantly, this article is not intended to provide advice with this exception–engage an attorney to review contracts with you one-on-one, who can tailor advice to your specific situation.  Because heath care has many unique legal aspects (including many compliance risks), an attorney who specializes in healthcare, specifically physician employment, is your best choice.  Remember—don’t be afraid to ask questions of both the organization with whom you’re in discussions and of your attorney.

Contracts and Agreements, when signed (executed) by both parties are binding.  All important information should be in writing.  Often there will be documents that are not fully incorporated into the agreement, but will be referenced in the agreement.  Examples of these may be benefits, medical staff policies, and compensation methodologies.  It is within reason to ask these be made accessible to you and your attorney as you review your agreement.  A definition of terms may be one of the first sections you see in your agreement.

Compensation and Benefits – Compensation methodology should be clearly outlined.  This may include bonus or production components.  Expect specific answers to questions about benefits, retirement and professional development expenses (CME).

Term, Start Date, Termination – The start date of your employment or the agreement will be identified along with the effective time period of the agreement.  Methodology for terminating the agreement by either party may be outlined (including the amount of notice that is required).  Reasons and consequences for ‘termination with cause’ should be clearly articulated.  A contract that has no end date and that is automatically renewed each year may be referred to as ‘evergreen’.

Liability/Malpractice Insurance – You should understand the amount of coverage required by the state, organization and/or medical staff committee along with the type of coverage (for instance, claims made v. occurrence, and tail coverage).  Understand who has the responsibility to pay this expense.

Work Expectations – The agreement may clarify things such as locations where you will be working and other details such as hours spent in clinical, research, in-patient, teaching, call coverage, etc.  The language may be generalized such as stating that ‘coverage may be distributed equally among providers’.

Assignment – Can the contract be owned by someone else in the future?

Patient Records and Revenue – Who owns the records and will you be given access when necessary (such as if there is litigation)? Who performs billing?  Who owns revenues if the agreement is terminated?

Restrictive Covenants/Non-compete Agreements – If you leave the organization, will you be allowed to practice nearby?  Conditions, distances and timeframes should be clear and specific.

Indemnification – Who will be “held harmless” and what losses, if any, will be covered and by whom.

Medical Staff Membership – What memberships are required (or prohibited).  What happens at termination?

Again, the best practice is to engage a healthcare attorney (one knowledgeable and experienced in physician employment) to review and consult with you through this process.

 

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Physician recruiter spotlight: Brad Strader

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Brad Strader, Buena Vista Regional Healthcare Foundation

Brad Strader, Buena Vista Regional Healthcare Foundation

Meet: Brad Strader, executive director of the Buena Vista Regional Healthcare Foundation

Employer: Buena Vista Regional Medical Center, Storm Lake, Iowa

Why did you choose to become a physician recruiter? My work with the Foundation is highly involved in developing relationships with those that would consider financially supporting our organization. The process for recruitment is no different in that you search for prospects, develop relationships and then “make the ask.” I was asked to be a part of developing connections that could get us ahead of the curve in recruitment—a strategy that, so far, is working fairly well.

What’s your favorite part of your role? Getting to meet “the best and the brightest,” and the variety this aspect of my work offers.

What’s your best piece of advice for physicians in their job search? In a rural setting, get to know the people you will work with and those in the community. They certainly want to get to know you!

What can physicians look forward to in your community? You can build life-long professional relationships and friendships.

Learn more about practicing in the Midwest here.

 

 

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