How the landscape of physician hiring is changing

The majority of new job openings for physicians are now as hospital employees, not in private practice.

This is the new reality for both residents facing the employment landscape and seasoned physicians looking for better opportunities.  In their 2011 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives, Texas-based national physician search firm Merritt Hawkins confirmed that private practice scenarios are giving way to doctors being directly employed by hospitals, large health systems, and medical groups.

As large health system hiring increases with the surge of retiring Baby Boomers and the shifting regulatory landscape, there has been a move away from the traditional recruiting model (i.e. external recruiters) and toward internal recruiting teams. Without the assistance that external recruiters often provide, physicians must now be even more self-prepared with excellent job search materials and interview skills.

In my experiences as the internal Physician Recruitment Director at a major academic faculty practice, almost a half of our physician applicants had severely flawed professional presentation capabilities.  Talented and able doctors lost out on great employment opportunities because their resumes were inadequate, they were ill-prepared for telephone interviews, or committed a variety of avoidable blunders during in-person interviews.

Many physicians repeatedly make the same avoidable mistakes.  Here are a few guidelines to solve the job search killers:

  • Attend to the devilish details. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and formatting inconsistencies create irrevocable negative impressions. A poorly constructed cover letter, or worse yet a lack of one, sends the message that you don’t know what you want and cannot succinctly communicate your interests and abilities. A physician-entrepreneur who ran a successful practice never passed the initial application review phase because his formatting included several different rainbow hues!
  • Prune your list of publications and presentations. Keep it tightly edited so you’re not seen as trying to fool anyone.  Hiring teams can see right through resume padding.  Think twice about including publications that don’t stand up to intellectual rigor, especially if you’re seeking a position with an academic component. Your undergraduate research project may have been impressive, but don’t try to pass it off as anything other than what it was.
  • Over-prepare and practice. Never think that you’ve done too much preparing.  Lack of preparation is the kiss of death and is always revealed through questioning, both elementary and difficult. Unrehearsed responses to questions as basic as “Why would you want to leave your current position for this one?” can derail an otherwise positive interview.  I’ll never forget the physician who responded to that very question with “Which practice is this again?”  Even the most fair-minded hiring team will pass over a candidate who puts the minimum of mental effort into the interview process, though he or she may be a clinical master.

It may be tempting to rest on your laurels when beginning a job search, but highly prepared job seekers will increasingly have the advantage in the new physician hiring landscape.

Jocelyn Clarke is a former Physician Recruitment Director and founder of Insider Coaching Group.

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