Finding Your Dream Job

November 19, 2009

In today's economy, a job transition is a scary thing.

In today’s economy, a job transition is a scary thing. As a hospitalist for two years, I found the lack of continuity of care unsatisfying, so I decided to try to find something more suited to my “primary-care personality.” Surprised by the number of physician opportunities out there, I used the following steps to land my dream job.

If you are ready to make a career move for any reason, here are some suggestions:

Define your dream job and write down its features. Allow yourself to think in grandiose terms as you visualize the perfect location, inpatient/outpatient mix, earnings potential, and ideal schedule. After each interview, compare what you learned about the position to your dream job features.

Would spending a year or two doing locum tenens work appeal to you?

Do you need to be in control or are you comfortable in an employed position

Which procedures do you want to continue and which would you like to stop performing?

Would you work well in a large group in which you are the newest member?

What lifestyle requirements are important to you? For example, if you take a long hunting vacation yearly, this should be on your list.

Get the paperwork done. If you plan to seek jobs in another state, start the licensing process early in your search because it may take months to fully work its way through the system. Polish up your CV and feature things that will help you land your ideal position. There are services that will help you with both of these for a fee, but if you are organized you certainly can complete them yourself.

Network, network, network. Your medical school roommate or former colleague may know that your ideal position is open just across town. Tell a few trusted people that you are ready to make a change. Furthermore, you may learn of physicians who left a group you are considering. It may be useful to talk to them to hear what triggered them to leave, but remember that you may not be as bothered by similar triggers.

Choose recruiters carefully. If you choose to post your CV on a physician employment Web site, expect hundreds of calls. I worked with hospital recruiters who knew what positions were open in their referring clinics and that was quite useful.

Take notes after meetings with potential colleagues. Because you may forget the details, write down some key facts immediately after the meeting. Who did you meet? Were the facilities up to your standards? Were you comfortable with the physicians, nurses, and support staff? Are there incentive plans or opportunities for practice ownership? Following face-to-face meetings with a brief handwritten note to further express your interest is appropriate.

Listen to your gut. If anything feels “off” during any part of the process, then you probably don’t want to proceed with communications about that particular position. On the other hand, if everything feels “right,” then you may have identified the position to take you through to retirement.

When we are professionally miserable, we sometimes think that any move will be an improvement, but remember your list. As long as you still have an income, take your time and wait for the position that most closely matches it. Trust me - you’ll be so much happier in the long run.

Sarah Parrott, DO, is an assistant professor of family medicine at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Mo. She can be reached via physicianspractice@cmpmedica.com