A Physician’s Advice for the Graduating Resident

October 4, 2011

Sometimes I think back to my own first job search. Truthfully, I didn’t even know what to ask.

My practice group is interviewing a potential new partner. She’s going to graduate next June and is interested in joining our group. My brother-in-law, about to graduate fellowship, is making his own loop on the interview trail. I think back to my own first job search. Truthfully, I didn’t even know what to ask. I had a list of questions that I found online and made sure to ask those, somehow fearing that the really important questions, the ones that would make or break my future, were eluding me.

So, here’s my advice to any new job searchers out there:

1.) Be honest with yourself, and with your future employer. Don’t try to be the candidate they want. Be the candidate you are. Even if you land a job “pretending” to be someone you’re not, you will be miserable as the square peg in a round hole.

2.) Ask the questions you really need answered. I remember being on a job search, having dinner with my potential future colleagues and our spouses. My husband, despite meeting these people only five minutes before, rushed to ask all those questions I was too shy to ask. Since our family is Jewish, we wanted to make sure there would be no latent anti-Semitism in our new community. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of a tactful way to ask this question. My husband could. “So,” he said, “we’re Jewish. Do you think that’s a problem in this community?”

3.) Be flexible. Accept that your first job is unlikely to be your last job. Make your plans flexible enough - in terms of finances, buying a home, settling down for good - that you can make a necessary change if you need to.

4.) Be realistic about the time you’re willing to commit. If you shudder at the idea of calls every third night, then don’t join a group where this is a real possibility, even if they promise that they’re recruiting more physicians.

5.) Go with your gut. Despite all the ways I’ve tried to compare and contrast different job opportunities, it’s always come down to a gut feeling for me. No matter how attractive an opportunity may be, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Run - don’t walk - away from it.

6.) Look out for problems. If a group has a big problem - half their physicians have left in the last three years, the “numbers” don’t add up, you’re promised an offer that’s way too good to be true - don’t believe it will get better. It won’t.

Learn more about Jennifer Frank, MD, and our other contributing bloggers here.