Doing things the MBA way

Essential business skills physicians need to know.

By Joe Capko | Feature Articles | Winter 2012

 

Ask a doctor why he or she decided on a career in medicine, and you might hear a mix of reasons: a yearning to help people; a keen interest in science; desire for a role that commands respect. Maybe some will even admit to wanting a potentially lucrative career that is also prestigious.

One thing you probably won’t hear, though, is a longing for a management role in a $3 trillion industry—even though that is another way to describe what being a physician means today in the U.S. health care system.

Lack of appreciation for medicine as a business—and reluctance to develop business skills—can hold new doctors back, making it harder for them to reach their primary goals of providing excellent patient care and achieving enduring career success and financial security.

“It’s a travesty that physicians do not receive a business education,” says Maria Young Chandler, M.D., MBA, associate clinical professor of pediatrics and management, University of California, Irvine and chief medical officer of The Children’s Clinic, a six-site nonprofit health center in Long Beach, Calif. “Medicine is a business. Without business skills, physicians could find themselves swimming upstream.”

After as much as 10 years of post-graduate education, though, getting an MBA may not be appealing or feasible for many young physicians. The good news is, any physician can become more conscious of the business aspects of the health care field. more »

 

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CV essentials

Tips for physicians from career coaches

By Jon VanZile | Feature Articles | Winter 2012

 

Designing a CV or résumé is a deceptively difficult task. In theory, it seems easy to give a straightforward chronicle of your career so far. In reality, it’s very difficult to design a piece of paper that, in about 30 seconds, accurately depicts what you’ve done so far, who you are, and what benefit you might offer an organization.

HOW TO FORMAT

While you’re agonizing over word choices and the order of your headings, here are a few pointers from professional career coaches.

1. Keep your formatting clean and open, with lots of white space. Resist the temptation to cram your CV with lots of tiny type. In this case, less can be more.

2. Push your dates to the right side, not the left. You don’t want your CV to look like a list of dates. Make sure your title and/or organization is the first thing the reader sees.

3. Under your headings, list your most recent activities first.

4. Go easy on the creative fonts. Stick with a simple, professional font like Times New Roman.

5. Have it proofread—several times. There should be absolutely no grammar or spelling mistakes.

6. Save the document as a PDF and a Word file. Almost everybody can read a Word file or PDF, and both are easy to email, should the need arise.

 

WHAT TO INCLUDE

A CV is a long-format document that contains a full history of your credentials and achievements, including your education, professional background, and even personal and cultural activities that help define you. Once your CV is finished, most physicians update their CVs every few years, and of course, any time they are job hunting.

As you’re confronting your CV, it’s helpful to know what “typical” headings look like. It’s not essential to include all of these—only include headings in which you have something substantive to add.
Outside of a few broadly accepted rules—your contact information goes at the top, for example—there are few hard and fast rules for the order of your information.

Some experts recommend putting your education before your clinical experience, while others recommend listing your clinical experience first. As always, it comes down to your level of experience and your target audience.

SAMPLE HEADINGS TO INCLUDE

• Contact and personal information: This should be the first thing on the page. Include your name, address and contact information. If you have a LinkedIn profile or personal web page, you can include the URL here.

• Objective: This line is somewhat controversial among career coaches. Some love it, some hate it. If you include an objective section, keep it limited to one or two sentences and make sure it’s tailored to your prospective organization. Consider putting the objective part in your cover letter—especially if it’s not entirely obvious how you fit with the facility. (For example, an internal medicine physician applying for a hospitalist job.)

• Education: Include the name of your school, graduation date, and area of study. It’s not necessary to include individual coursework.

• Academic honors: Many CVs include a line for academic honors just under the education section. This would include honors such as magna cum laude or positions of student leadership.

• Board certification, specialty and licenses: List the specialty in which you’re board certified (and when), and the states in which you’re licensed.

• Internships/residencies/ fellowships: Keep this section relatively basic, listing the institution, location and your specialty. Do include positions of leadership, if possible.

• Volunteer experience: This can be especially valuable for residents just starting out who don’t have much clinical experience. If you have extensive volunteer experience, consider breaking this into one section for medical volunteering and one for nonmedical volunteering.

• Clinical experience: In chronological order from most to least recent, include the practices and/or hospitals where you’ve worked, including a brief description of the facility, your responsibilities, and the dates you worked there.

• Publications and presentations: Include any publications you’ve written or co-authored. This includes articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in textbooks and even consumer-related media. Presentations at conferences should also be mentioned.

• Professional memberships: Include relevant societies and organizations.

• Awards and honors: This list should include any professional recognition you have received outside of school.

• Cultural activities and personal interests. If you’re very involved in a charity or cultural institution, include this.

 

SAMPLE CVS

 

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How to Negotiate like a 5 Year Old

Little kids usually have no problems getting what they need. You can too, with these tips for successful employment negotiations.

By Anne Fowler | Fall 2011 | Job Doctor

 

Have you ever noticed how effortless it is for children to negotiate for their wants and needs? It is as if they come into this world with a magic gift of knowing how to get what they want—and better yet, nibble for even more.

As a mother of three small children, I watch in awe as my kids masterfully maneuver these situations and take note of their skills in an effort to learn from them. So I ask myself—why is it that, as we get older, we lose that comfort level with being direct about our needs and wants and negotiating for the same?

As a physician recruiter with more than 15 years of experience negotiating physician employment agreements, there is a palpable change in a candidate’s voice, behavior and even body language when we move from the pleasantries of exploring a particular opportunity to the negotiation phase of the recruitment process.

Why is this? I believe it has much to do with a candidate’s worry about crossing some invisible boundary in the discussion, appearing too greedy, or having a general discomfort with advocating for their needs. Since the fall is the time of year when many senior residents begin to consider job opportunities, it is an optimal time to put forth some tips on negotiating with an employer.

Come prepared for the discussion.

This is fairly obvious, as you cannot expect modifications from an employer if you don’t know what is already in the agreement. You must review the document and become familiar with the obligations of both parties. Employers and their representatives will be well-versed in the language of the employment agreement, and you don’t want to be left behind as they move from paragraph to paragraph. That said, if there is something that requires clarity, be sure to speak up and ask for an explanation in layman terms.


• Enlist an attorney to review the agreement.

As it may be your first time reviewing an employment agreement, I encourage you to select an attorney who is both in the region where you plan to practice and is well-versed in physician agreements. You will be bound by the provisions of the agreement, so it is important that the document be one you can live with for the duration of the term of employment.

• The figures related to compensation may be negotiable, but more often than not, the methodology for payment is non-negotiable.

Compensation structures have simplified over the years, but there can often be multiple components that make up a total compensation plan, including salary, incentives, bonuses for quality and good citizenship, partnership, etc. Employers devote extensive time and resources to developing the best model for a practice and are typically not inclined to make radical modifications related to their methodology. As a general observation, employers tend to be more inclined within reason to readjust dollar amounts for base salaries, sign-on bonuses or retention bonuses before ever delving into changes in the compensation plan.

• It is perfectly acceptable to request data related to historical incentive/bonus payments.

If the employer is offering an incentive or bonus component, you should feel comfortable requesting not only the specific formula used for calculation, but also historical data related to how much has been paid on average to individuals in the group over a period of time (such as the past three or six months). The employer can do this while still protecting the identities of the individual physicians. If an employer is reluctant to do so, you should consider this a red flag.

• Benefit programs offered by employers are usually standard and universal for the group.

Health, dental, vision and retirement plans are typically non-negotiable. CME allowances and paid time off may be more negotiable, but many employers are reluctant to do so in order to avoid inequities within the group. There is also a greater level of complexity for the employer to administer a plan that differs among group members. more »

 

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How your spouse can help with your job search

By Therese Karsten, MBA, CMSR | Feature Articles | Summer 2011

 

One of the fundamental rules of successful recruiting is that practices recruit the spouse as well as the physician.

James Lopez, M.D.

James Lopez, M.D., and his wife, Melissa, a critical care RN, ranked each of their top 10 needs in a post-residency opportunity. Criteria included proximity to family, cost of living and nights on call. The exercise helped them determine if a job would meet their family’s priorities.

Hospitals and practices expect to interact at some point with the spouse or significant other who will be making the relocation decision with the physician. That interaction can shape the hiring authority’s perception of the candidate’s fit with the practice and community. The spouse has an opportunity to help or hinder the chances of landing the right job offer.

These tips will help your spouse help you.

 

Edit the CV and cover letter

The majority of physicians interviewing today have been immersed in a heavily science-oriented curriculum since 5 minutes after birth.

Spelling, grammar and graphic layout are not usually on the same gene map that leads to highly competitive MCAT scores. Luckily, physicians often marry people whose natural gifts complement their own skills.

If that describes your spouse, give your spouse sample CVs and cover letters to work with so that the final product has the right structure and components. Take the resulting draft to physician mentors or peers known for good written communication.

 

Get the word out that you’re looking

Your spouse can help you set up your online search. Create a job-search email account and keep a master list of sites where your CV is posted so that you can remove or edit as needed.

Your spouse can copy, paste and adapt your cover letter and CV to use on major job-search sites—like PracticeLink.com.

After registering on a physician job bank, you may get a call to gather more information about what you’re looking for in a practice. It’s fine to have your spouse respond, as long as you have agreed on the key messaging points. more »

 

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Make a conference connection

Your next CME conference could lead to your next opportunity

By Margaret Lokey | Job Doctor | Summer 2011

 

How many times have you seen an ad or direct mail piece for a physician conference at some far-off location and thought, “That would be a nice getaway.” Or maybe you’ve seen conferences as an opportunity to obtain CME credits, increase your knowledge base and network with colleagues. But have you ever thought of a national conference as a possible gateway to a new life and new opportunities? You should, because many of your fellow physicians have already made this discovery.

If you are a physician looking for a change, attend conferences prepared to know what information to gather and which questions to ask as you make your way from booth to booth.

Depending on the conference you attend, you’ll most likely meet individuals representing large hospital companies, individual facilities, online career services, recruitment firms, and/or locum tenens organizations. Each of these groups can offer information and assistance in your search for an ideal job.

Savvy exhibitors with current openings will not only have general information about their organization and what they can provide, but also specific information about available positions.

National conferences are large and tend to be fast-paced and busy, so be prepared to collect information relevant to your needs and expectations. By collecting information from the booths, you have the option to either return to your hotel room to absorb the content when you have more time or to review it once you have returned home.

Prepare a list of questions to ask representatives from each company. Asking a question not only allows you the opportunity to find a position that might be a perfect fit, but it also positions you as a more memorable candidate for the recruiter.

Though questions will differ from physician to physician, the advice remains the same: Make sure to have your questions written down, and don’t hesitate to take notes.

Your questions may range from work-related questions, such as “How many nights each month would I be expected to take call?” or “How fast do you think my practice will grow?” to questions regarding aspects outside the job, such as “What are the school systems like in the area?” or “What are some outside activities offered in and around the location?” The representatives at each booth are excited to talk with you and should have all this information and more to provide. more »

 

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Organizational culture: Physician satisfaction and success

You might have all the right skills, but will you fit in with the culture?

By PracticeLink Staff | Web Exclusive

 

Where is the practice located? How much compensation will I receive? What type of practice is the opportunity?Workplace culture and physician satisfaction

These are just a few of the questions, as physicians, you might ask yourself when you begin your search for the right practice opportunity. There’s an even bigger question you should consider, and one that employers may be asking of you.  “Are you a good fit for the organization, socially and culturally?”

Organizations and even medical schools, like Virginia Tech Carilion, are conducting pre-screenings to help determine if candidates will be a good match, socially and culturally. Virginia Tech Carilion uses a method called multiple mini interview, or M.M.I., and its use is spreading.  Check out this recent article by The New York Times, New for Aspiring Doctors, the People Skills Test.

Organizational culture, that mysterious word that characterizes a work environment, can mean just as much to a recruiter as a physician’s credentials. Behavior assessments give a recruiter an idea of how well a physician will fit in with the organization and also within the community they’ll be serving.

As job seekers, you should also consider cultural fit when searching for your first or next practice, or even when looking for a partner for your medical practice. more »

 

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Job Search Tips for Physicians

PracticeLink recruiters reveal tips they wish more candidates would heed.

By PracticeLink Staff | Web Exclusive

 

Ever wonder exactly what physician recruiters are looking for in a candidate? Wish you had the inside scoop on how to get a leg-up in your search for the right practice?

Panel of physician recruiters

PracticeLink physician recruiters share their tips for candidates who are looking for a job.

PracticeLink recently hosted a panel of physician recruiters to get their take on what’s important in their search for the right candidate. Residents, fellows, NPs/PAs, and even practicing physicians can benefit from what they had to say.

We’ve captured some of their tips and suggestions here:

Your C.V. and cover letter:

  • Tailor your CV and cover letter to the job you’re applying for.
  • There are no absolute rules but, in general, the length of your CV depends on your profession. For example, clinical CVs tend to be shorter, while academic CVs are typically longer in length.
  • Stay on top of your CV and make sure it’s up to date.
  • Focus the content of your CV on your career objective, highlights of your career to date, education and major skills and accomplishments. more »

 

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How to make the most of your interview

Ask about referral patterns, technology and the group’s financial stability when interviewing for your first or next practice

By Lisa Vognild, FASPR | Job Doctor | Spring 2011

 

Taking time away from training or a busy practice to interview for a position takes a significant investment of your time. With travel, most interviews will require two or three days.

Being prepared with a list of questions to ask—both before you accept an interview and during the interview itself—will help you make the most of your time and leave the interview thoroughly informed.Quote

You will be asked by almost everyone that meets you, “Do you have any questions?” Having a list on paper will prevent you from having to come up with them on the spot. Also, it will show each interviewer that you are engaged in the process, are prepared, and have a genuine interest in the opportunity.

You will find that, after several interviews, the information from each place will start to run together. You will ask yourself, “Was that at that place or the other place?” So during your interview, jot down a few notes to refer back to later. More importantly, at the end of your visit, write a brief summary of the pros and cons and any uncertainties you have. more »

 

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Back to school?!

What is motivating physicians to head back for more training and additional education?

By By Cindi Myers | Feature Articles | Winter 2011

 

Paul-Levy-MD

For Paul Levy, MD, pursuing an MBA helps him understand the business side of medicine—and prepares him to handle a changing professional landscape.

When Dr. Paul Levy became a heart surgeon, he thought that was enough. He’d worked hard, making it through medical school and internship and fellowships. During the next 25 years, he rose to the top of his profession as one of the senior members of the New Mexico Heart Institute, named the number-one cardiac surgeon in Albuquerque in 2010 by Albuquerque The Magazine.

But by 2009, the world of medicine was changing rapidly. What had always been enough for Levy wasn’t anymore. “I’ve been in a patient’s chest for 20 to 25 years,” Levy says. “That’s where I’ve had my head. I know I can do this job, but I realized one day it was time for me to expand my horizons. I really need to know more about what’s going on.”

Levy signed up for the University of Tennessee’s Physician Executive MBA program, or PEMBA. In doing so, he joined a growing number of physicians who’ve decided to pursue an advanced degree, like an MBA or JD, in addition to their medical diploma.

Why another degree?

The reasons physicians pursue additional degrees vary. Many, like Levy, pursue degrees as a response to the current medical climate. “You’ve got to be aware of what’s going on in health care to stay in business these days,” Levy says. “There are a lot of doctors who are frustrated. There are a lot of doctors moving toward business degrees. They’re concerned about their profession.”

Some want to expand their career options. Dr. Mike Ward, who is currently completing a two-year operations research fellowship and pursuing a master’s in quantitative analysis through the University of Cincinnati, received his M.D. and his MBA from Emory University.

“The MBA brings diversity and opportunity,” he says. “It lets individuals know what you’re interested in and capable of doing.” Ward, one of the founders of the National Association of MD/MBA Students, thinks an MBA on a physician CV opens doors for more leadership roles in clinical medicine, as well as administrative and academic positions. more »

 

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Bestseller or Bust!

For physicians, seeing a nonfiction book through from idea to published masterpiece takes a wealth of patience. Take this advice to get started.

By By Jon VanZile | Feature Articles | Winter 2011

 

Dr. Christine Horner’s path to becoming an author was “a little unusual.” Before becoming an author, she was a plastic surgeon whose mother had breast cancer and went through conventional treatment, which seemed to work.

Dr-Christine-Horner

"The more I was learning, the more upset I got about how we practice medicine."

“Then, five years ago, she had a metastasis to her bone in her leg and gave up,” Horner says. “Nine months later, she was dead.”

As Horner dealt with this personal trauma, she saw the population of women coming in for reconstructive breast surgery after mastectomy get younger and younger, until she found herself working on breast cancer survivors in their 20’s.

Horner soon came to the conclusion that something wasn’t working in the way the medical community diagnosed and treated breast cancer. So she dove into the literature and was shocked at what she found.

“I found thousands of studies about things we weren’t doing in our culture to protect against breast cancer,” she says. “The more I was learning, the more upset I got about how we practice medicine.”

Horner wanted to spread what she was learning, and she was soon contributing regular segments to a local TV station while still working at her practice. But the workload quickly became overwhelming, and she knew it was time to take the next step.

“One day, I woke up and quit my practice and took some time off,” Horner says. “I thought I was going to write a book.”

The resulting book, Waking the Warrior Goddess, was published by Basic Health Publications in Laguna Beach, Calif. Norman Goldfind, her publisher, says the book has been a great success for his company, and they’ve returned to press several times.

The book has been good for Horner as well. She has been on multiple national TV programs, done hundreds of press interviews for major media, and has spoken before hundreds of audiences all around the country.

But as Horner learned along the way, publishing a book is a labor of love that requires skills doctors don’t naturally cultivate. And even with national media exposure and multiple print runs, it doesn’t necessarily pay the bills. more »

 

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