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How to Choose the Right Clinical Job Opportunity

Posted on Mon, Oct 31, 2016
How to Choose the Right Clinical Job Opportunity

It’s hard to believe that we are already two months into the 2017 residency recruitment season.

Over the next several months, residents across the country will interview at multiple places until they find the ideal opportunity. Residents will receive advice from current and former colleagues, their residency directors and others. So for what it's worth, I’m going to offer you my advice.

First, enjoy the moment. Reflect on what you are about to accomplish. Ten-plus years of learning, training, dedication and sacrifice is finally leading to the start of your emergency medicine career.

Choosing the right opportunity brings a mixture of excitement and stress, so I encourage you to develop a career plan. The first step is to ask yourself what’s truly important to you today. Long term, the number one criteria for landing an ideal opportunity is location. In the short term, you may want to travel, practice in a variety of settings, pursue a leadership track or find a location that will assist in paying down your student loans. Once you answer this question, you can plan accordingly.

Several years ago, I recruited an EM physician. His first name was Dan, and for a five years, worked on average 1,800 hours per year. During his residency, Dan was a chief resident. He was brilliant physician. The nursing staff liked working with him and his patient satisfaction scores were always high. Our leadership team easily formed the opinion that he would make an outstanding medical director in the future. When Dan interviewed with us, he expressed that his long-term goal was to become a medical director or chief medical officer. At the end of Dan's second year, he was offered an associate medical directorship. He turned me down. When I asked him why he stated, "It is not part of my plan today." His plan was to pay off all of his student loans within the first five years after he completed residency. Once Dan paid off his loans, within one year, he accepted a leadership position.

The second step of finding the right opportunity occurs during the interview process. During the interview, you must evaluate who you will work with. This starts with evaluating the medical director during and after the interview. Finding a medical director who will mentor, guide, teach and inspire you will create an environment that will encourage you to stay long term or prepare you for the next opportunity. This is not always easy to determine, but you can assess the medical director by asking questions to the other physicians, nursing staff or other members of the hospital leadership team. The second part is evaluating the physicians and advanced practice providers that you will work with. The medical director and nursing staff will help you to determine if these are the types of colleagues you want to work with.

The third step is determining if the location has what you are looking for, from housing, schools and shopping to recreational activities, religious activities and other considerations. This may conflict with your first plan out of residency, but the location will be the primary factor for choosing an opportunity for your long-term plan.

The last piece of free advice is when you find the right opportunity, one month before you start work, and before you start making 4 to 6 times what you were making as a resident, hire a financial advisor to help you develop a plan. You'll sleep better at night knowing your financial future is in good hands.

Jim McMillin


Jim McMillin is the National Director of Provider Recruitment for EmCare.

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