So, you’ve graduated from medical school – congratulations! Now you need to focus your efforts on finding a job – not just any job – but the right job. Even though residency is hectic, it’s not too early to begin laying the groundwork for finding your first job. Every person you come into contact with is a potential lead for employment and a potential reference you can use in your job search. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a successful job search.
What You Need
You need a great CV: Your resume, called a CV (curriculum vitae) for physicians, needs to reflect all the work you have put into medical school. You want to make sure that it includes information on all your internships and residencies, your volunteer and clinical experience, any research you have conducted, and presentations you have made. List memberships in professional societies and any awards you have received.
You’ll need solid references. Usually, a prospective employer will want to check three to five references. When you think about who to use as a reference, think about the professionals who know you best and can speak to your skills. Consider your professors, mentors, clinical advisors and/or attending physicians you worked with your during your internship and residency for references. Have a discussion with each of them and ask permission to use them as a reference.
You may be part of a community where you completed your residency and want to stay there. However, broadening your location options might open more opportunities that better align with the job you want. Don’t limit yourself to marquee locations like cities by the ocean or in scenic mountains. Conduct research and find out what specialties are needed in different areas of the country. If you are high demand in a certain geographic area it may significantly improve your odds of finding a job. Every year Medscape publishes a report on the “Best and Worst Places to Practice Medicine”. This may provide added insight into the right geographic/demographic area for your first years in practice.
Type of Practice
You may have already chosen your specialty, but where and how do you want to practice? Consider these questions to help you figure it out.
- Do you want to work for a private practice? If so, what size of practice would be ideal? Do you want to be in a large, multi-office practice or a small practice?
- Do you want to be employed by a practice or do you want to be a sole practitioner?
- Do you want to work in a hospital setting? If so, what size? Do you want to work for a small to mid-sized community hospital or a large academic teaching center?
- What type of lifestyle do you want? Do you want to live in a city, a suburb, or the country?
- Do you have hobbies that you want to continue that would be contingent on your location?
- Do you already have a family and the quality of school systems is important?
- Consider what it is going to take to get you moved to the new location and established in your practice – costs, salary, job opportunities for your spouse, etc.
The answers to these questions will help you to determine where you want to look for a job and will also help you in the job interview. Prospective employers will want to know why you want to be part of their healthcare practice and the community at large.
The Big Question: What do you want to do?
This is the time to examine your interests and listen to your inner voice. You may not want to work with patients. Medical school may have aided in your self-discovery that conducting research checks all of your boxes. You may have felt a surge of energy around epidemiology or maybe public health turned all the lights on. There are many opportunities for well-trained physicians and you should carefully consider in which sector of healthcare you want to build your career. Some of the options outside of direct patient care include:
- Public Health
- National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and other national organizations
- Clinical laboratories
- Health administration
- Biotech, life sciences and pharmaceuticals
Even the most highly motivated physicians find it difficult to sort through the details of finding a job. Using these strategies to organize your job search is an important first step. Remember to look for jobs outside your comfort zone. You may find surprising opportunities that excite you and wet your appetite for an engaging, empowering career.