Starting Your Job Search: Figuring Out What You Really Want

Koushik Shaw, MD


May 03, 2019

In This Article

Editor's Note: This article was adapted and updated from the Physician Business Academy course "Finding the Right Physician Job" by Koushik Shaw, MD. Additional reporting by Gail G. Weiss.

Let the New Job Search Begin

You are about to make a very consequential decision.

Before you begin your search, you'll need to know what you are looking for. Bear in mind, however, that the right path for others may not be the path for you, so it's important to take the time to know yourself and your family.

"If you don't know what's most important, there is a strong chance you won't be able to find it in your search," says Kenneth T. Hertz, FACMPA, a principal consultant with the healthcare consulting group Medical Group Management Association.

Indeed, landing a great job involves considerable self-evaluation, careful planning, good people skills, and a willingness to tackle tough issues. Put assumptions aside and develop a detailed picture of what meets your needs and preferences.

"Talk with colleagues who've taken various job paths to get an idea of what they've learned—mistakes to be avoided, things that turned out differently than expected, [and] positives and negatives they'd look for or look to avoid in the future," says Laurie Morgan, MBA, senior consultant and partner with the practice management consulting firm Capko & Morgan.

Critical Considerations

To identify what's most critical to you:

Ask yourself some basic questions. What kind of work situation do you want? Do you want to be employed, or do you want to be a partner in a physician group? Where do you want to live? How many hours per week do you want to work? How much do you hope to earn?

Imagine your ideal day. This includes the type and number of patients you'll see, your workday start and finish times, your daily commute (eg, can you tolerate a lot of traffic?), and your interactions with other physicians and staff. Try to identify all the important factors, and see which ones are most critical to you.

Imagine your ideal life. How much vacation time do you want? Are you willing to accept a lower-paying, but less stressful, job? If you have—or plan to have—a family, how do you see your work-life balance? For example, would you hire a nanny so you could work longer hours?

Understand your personality. Are you an entrepreneurial type who would be happy in a solo or small practice? Or are you more of a team player who'd thrive in a large practice or organization? Talking to people who know you well can help you define yourself.

Find a mentor. Seek out a seasoned doctor—preferably a physician who practices in the community where you want to work—who is willing to mentor you. He or she can give you an idea of what it's like to choose a practice and help you assess your choices as they arise during the search process.


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