Ask the right questions the first time around

By Teresa Odle | Feature Articles | Summer 2012


“First is knowing what questions to ask, and second is knowing what to do with the answers,” says Lawrence D. Ward, M.D., MPH, FACP, of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and the American College of Physicians Council of Young Physicians.

Once you ask the questions that will help you make an informed decision, it helps to have someone you can bounce the answers off of. “If they tell me in the interview that I get one nurse per five physicians, what does that mean,” says Ward.

Here are a few questions to ask:

• What sort of staffing support will I have (nursing, billing, transcription, marketing, other)?

• Do you have an Electronic Health Record (EHR)?

• What is your payer mix?

• Do any of your physicians have flexible schedules to account for outside endeavors or family commitments?

• Will I have any inpatient responsibilities? If so, how are my office patient responsibilities managed during that time?

• Will I be purely a consultant physician or have admitting privileges?

• How often will I take evening and weekend call, and what is the usual volume of calls?

• Are there evening or weekend office hours?

• What is your compensation plan based on (work units, reimbursement, straight salary), and for how long is my salary guaranteed?

• Is there a path to partnership?

• What are the benefits, including retirement? How long until I am fully vested for retirement?

• What type of governance structure do you have, and how do physicians fit in the structure?

• Is there a succession plan in place for new physicians?

• Will my clinical responsibilities include traveling to other facilities (such as satellite offices or nursing homes), and how far or how often?

• What kind of orientation, support and mentoring do you have in place for new physicians?

• How are new physician schedules altered to gradually acclimate them to the practice and EHR?

• What is the current real estate market like in the community?

• Does the community offer access to my family’s religious, educational and extracurricular needs?

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