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How do I find a job: where do I start?

Career planning is best approached with a strong mission statement and list of objectives for accomplishing initial success. The common aphorism is that “one learns as much in the first five years of practice as one learns in five years of residency”. This truism makes effective career placement a priority. The candidate should examine the potential partners and referring doctors as carefully as the contract negotiation and benefits to ensure professional growth.

  • The best initial start is to work with the program coordinator for the residency and/or fellowship to determine what employers have been contacting the program for recruitment. The best career placements are often with alumni in the city or region where the residency/fellowship is located. Mentorship is essential and the program director of the residency/fellowship can effectively mentor candidates for career placement as an advocate with community physicians and other academic programs. If a candidate is interested in a particular type of academic setting or area resumes with cover letters can be sent to hospitals and university departments as to cover an entire region or career specialty.

  • Another key venue to start the job search is with the local chapter of the American College of Surgeons and the national American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress. Recruiters from hospitals and private corporations are often present at these events to meet directly with candidates to discuss opportunities. Local surgical societies at the city or state level also serve as great avenues to meet surgeons that are recruiting a junior colleague.

  • The Journal of the American College of Surgeons also has extensive career listings. It should be noted that most academic institutions advertise in peer-reviewed journals.

  • Society web pages often provide career listings especially useful for residents and fellows looking for a tailored specialty experience. The specialty society meetings can also be an effective venue to meet recruiters personally and discuss opportunities with hospital representatives. Specialty societies often hold fellowship and career counseling sessions at their annual meetings that help alert candidates to career openings and potential practice areas.

  • Recruitment firms can be contacted for help with career placement, and this is now often done through on-line search portals. The caveat to using a recruiter is to remember that these companies always work for their clients that are primarily hospital networks and larger practices. This truism makes extensive research and investigation, including legal contract review, a must since there is often fine print that limits what often appear to be “golden opportunities”.

  • Upon entering initial conversations with hospitals and recruiters, the candidate should examine benefits, with special attention to salary, potential or projected bonuses, financial expectations, vacation, continuing medical education, support for taking board examinations, health-care benefits, malpractice coverage, and retirement benefits. Some practices have restrictive covenants within the employment agreement (statement in the contract that attempts to keep an individual from leaving the group and practicing within a certain distance or non-compete clauses).

In summary, the initial career search can begin with either connections through training institutions or with web-based recruitment media, but it should be noted that personal mentoring and legal counsel are critical for making the best decisions.

Useful Links

Medical Organization Job Boards

Web Portals

Contributed by:
Brian R. Davis, MD
Associate Professor and Program Director
Texas Tech Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
El Paso, Texas
SSAT Resident Education Committee Member

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