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The Post-Residency Job Search

Published December 09, 2021

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Life & Career
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Finding and accepting your first job after residency can be an exhilarating and, yes, overwhelming process. Many medical residents report being inundated with emails and communications from hospital systems, recruiters, and professional organizations offering potential practice opportunities.

With so many options to consider, it might be easy to feel anxious about landing in the right place. Here are a few things to consider before beginning your job hunt.

Finding and accepting your first job after residency can be an exhilarating and, yes, overwhelming process. Many medical residents report being inundated with emails and communications from hospital systems, recruiters, and professional organizations offering potential practice opportunities.

With so many options to consider, it might be easy to feel anxious about landing in the right place. Here are a few things to consider before beginning your job hunt.

Start the search early

Ask any resident who’s been through a job search, and they’ll probably tell you the timing is complicated. Many hospital systems and private practices don’t post job listings for new attendings until November and December.

So when is the best time to reach out to them?

Starting early – say in October – might seem like a good strategy, but the lack of immediate responses may leave you frustrated or with the false impression that they aren’t interested.

Applying in January and February may not leave you with enough time in your schedule for interviewing, especially when opportunities for time off from your residency are often limited.

For many, beginning the process in November and December allows enough time to sort through all the options, travel to on-site meetings, engage prospective colleagues, and learn about the facilities.

Think of it this way: Come February, when some of your colleagues are just beginning their application process, you can relax knowing what your future holds.

Know what to look for

Has residency convinced you that you would be happiest as a hospitalist? Do you know for sure that you want to be part of a private practice? If surgery is your specialty, does the practice you’re considering have an admitting affiliation with a suitable hospital or surgical center?

These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before you begin your application process.

Start by making a list of the things you need, the things you would like, and the things you cannot accept in a potential job, and then search for opportunities that meet these preferences.

Knowing exactly the opportunity and the work environment you want will help focus your search, so that you can land the position that’s right for you.

Consider working with recruiters

Undoubtedly, searching for a job after residency can be complicated, confusing, and time consuming. Sometimes, it may seem almost impossible, considering your work hours.

That’s why it’s common for many med students, residents, fellows, and even attendings to engage the services of a professional physician recruiter.

There are two general types of physician recruiters – agency recruiters and in-house recruiters.

Agency recruiters (and independent recruiters) are not directly affiliated with hospitals or clinics and can research and assist with placements for any number of medical institutions.

In-house recruiters, on the other hand, are tasked with filling open positions only within their hospital system or clinic. While in-house recruiters are often more limited in the number and types of positions they handle, they are usually better suited to offer valuable insights regarding the specific hospital system or organization that they represent.

An agency, or independent recruiter may be able to negotiate salary on your behalf more easily than an in-house recruiter who is representing the interests of the hiring institution.

When engaging a recruiter, be sure to think critically, ask questions, research independently, and keep yourself open to opportunities so that you can secure employment that gives you long-term satisfaction.

Consider where you want to live and practice

As you begin the process of reviewing job postings, take a moment to consider where you will be comfortable living and practicing for the next few years. Some people value the comforts and social infrastructure of a large city, while others prefer living a quiet life in a smaller town.

If you are considering a position in a rural area, will you be the only, or one of a few specialists in the region? If so, how much time will you spend on call and who would cover for you when you take vacation?

If you prefer city life, does the urban area you’re considering have available resources for continuing medical education nearby?

Have you talked to your partner or spouse about their preferences? If you have children, are there sufficient educational and entertainment resources available?

As you look to take the next step in your career, you want to be comfortable with the choices you’ve made so that you can put down roots and live the life you want. It is our hope that the information provided here will help guide you in the right direction.

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