Healthcare Career Resources is a blog for those who work in the healthcare industry. We cover topics ranging from current events to medical humor as well as more career focused topics such as job search and interview tips. We also publish articles written for healthcare human resources and physician recruiters.
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View your first job as a potential life partner and plan accordingly- you want a sense of contentment when you wake up knowing you will spend more time at this position than with your significant other. Viewing your job in this way, it is easy to understand why you must be clear about your likes, and dislikes as...
While you must be understandably excited about this new chapter in your life, don’t let this excitement get in the way of optimizing your job search. Over half of physicians leave their first job within five years and, of those, a majority leave after 1 or 2 years. Your first job search is an important step in your career; make sure the search gets the time and energy it deserves.
View your first job as a potential life partner and plan accordingly- you want a sense of contentment when you wake up knowing you will spend more time at this position than with your significant other. Viewing your job in this way, it is easy to understand why you must be clear about your likes, and dislikes as well.
I think it is vital to set pen to paper and write out the details of your “dream job.” While no such job exists, you want a position that considerably overlaps with this vision, remembering that your “dream job” may change throughout your career. Nevertheless, making your wishes and wants concrete by writing them down will give you a sense of purpose and direction as you start your journey.
A few months into the search, I began my “manifestation” book, listing all my non-negotiables. This included not only the concrete, such as healthcare setting, patient population, and work hours (including call) but also the intangibles such as the feelings I wanted to have when walking through the door of my office each day and the sense of accomplishment from caring for patients or educating the community.
Many of us straight out of residency and fellowship have never negotiated a salary in any meaningful way. The offer letter provided by your residency clearly stated your income and likely set guidelines for the changes over the rest of your training, with no room for discussion. This system puts us far behind other professionals who may have learned this valuable skill up to a decade earlier.
The offer is a starting point; be confident in your worth, realizing this dollar amount signifies the hours, education and toil that you have put into your education as well as the tangible and not so tangible value you will provide for years to come to your future employer. Do not shortchange yourself. While it is helpful to look at average physician pay in your specialty and area, know that your skills are unique from your peers and the average wage includes physicians at all stages of their career. Whatever the starting offer is, don’t appear too eager to accept it; it may make it difficult to negotiate your needs later.
If there is pushback regarding salary, but the position is close to your ideal job, see if the offered benefits bring the two into greater alignment. Benefits include relocation costs, paid malpractice and CME and end-of-year bonuses. Remember, this is not “free money;” you may have to repay the bonuses if you break your contract or fall short of the productivity parameters outlined in your contract. Additionally, these benefits may be considered taxable income.
As physicians, we better than others, understand that health care does not come cheap. While you are caring for patients and your community, it is vital to have the peace of mind knowing that should your health- or the health of a family member- suffer, you have adequate health insurance. Ask probing questions about the health insurance packages and options. Don’t forget to consider the family and/or maternity leave available. A survey of academic centers shows that many do not live up to the recommended 12 weeks of maternity leave with some policies left purely to the discretion of the department.
From your residency director, colleagues, family members and anyone else whose opinion you trust. Don’t reinvent the wheel with your job search; countless physicians have walked this path and can help you on your journey. Senior physicians in your field are privy to information that may improve your job search, such as inside knowledge about the politics of a particular department or geographical region. Family and trusted friends provide another perspective by servicing as a sounding board that takes into account your personality and lifestyle factors that will complement the search. Don’t forget to ask to talk to current employees or, more importantly, any physician that has recently left the organization.
While I asked my program director early for advice, I did not speak candidly with current physicians until I accepted the position. When I did, I learned valuable information that would have affected my decision.
This is a must. Never sign the dotted line until a contract lawyer has reviewed everything thoroughly. You will not regret the money spent, as they will guide you regarding certain loopholes that may seem insignificant at first glance. Whatever your familiarity with the law- read the contract yourself. While a lawyer’s guidance is invaluable, it is essential that you take the onus to understand what you are signing and why. Circle, outline, and question everything!
Personally, I have a friend who specialized in contract law, and while I asked for her advice, I still paid an independent lawyer to review the contract.
These are some things to consider during your first job search. Remember – think of your job as a life partner for as long as you have it. Spend adequate time to ensure that you won’t regret it!
What do nurses really want from their employer, and how can institutions provide for them? In most industries, turnover is costly and drains productivity. In healthcare, turnover can impact patient outcomes and a facility’s reputation. In today’s tight market, retention is a top priority, followed only slightly behind by attracting top talent to your institution. Attracting the best talent in the industry and keeping them engaged and retained is a top priority for every healthcare...
What do nurses really want from their employer, and how can institutions provide for them? In most industries, turnover is costly and drains productivity. In healthcare, turnover can impact patient outcomes and a facility’s reputation. In today’s tight market, retention is a top priority, followed only slightly behind by attracting top talent to your institution. Attracting the best talent in the industry and keeping them engaged and retained is a top priority for every healthcare institution.
To understand the secret wants of nurses, Bay Alarm Medical surveyed over 100 caregivers, about half who have been in the industry for 11 years or longer. Their study, Nurse Confessions, revealed some fascinating data about the working nurse: what they want in their jobs, what’s challenging them to stay in their chosen profession, and how many are actively looking to move on.
Corie Colliton, project manager for Bay Alarm Medical, provides some insight into the data and her thoughts on why nurse retention and recruitment was a unique category in the marketplace.
“In almost every industry,” Colliton writes, “job satisfaction is directly linked to retention and turnover rates. However, nurses and doctors typically have more moving pieces at play in order to overcome a toxic work environment. It’s a high-pressure and high-stress industry to work in. It’s crucial for employees in this field to put aside personal and professional problems most of the time, because the needs of the patient always come first. That being said, it’s important to have the proper training and have the ability to swallow their pride more often than not to focus on saving lives.”
What’s challenging nurses on the job? The survey revealed some shocking statistics:
These revelations are eye-opening. Uncovering whether your nursing staff is experiencing these issues, and addressing them, could go a long way to improve nurse satisfaction on the job and reduce attrition.
Nurses were asked if they regretted their career choice. Of those, about 1 in 3 admitted they had at least some regrets. Even those who did not say they were unsure they made the right career choice experienced challenges on the job:
The survey revealed the largest group of nurses who regretted their career choice were in the field for 5 years or less, at 39.1%. This critical period may be an area where healthcare facilities can work with talent to get them past this difficult time. Once nurses hit the 6 to 10 year mark, according to the data, that number is more than cut in half at 19.6%.
“The nursing shortage is a problem that’s widespread, making it important to pinpoint specific trends in terms of turnover and retention rates. These numbers,” Colliton writes, “are usually directly related to the emotional and physical strain of the job.” They’re also pushing nurses to move to greener pastures:
Armed with the knowledge that more than a quarter of nurses report they’re on the lookout for a new job, facilities that are hoping to retain must do a better job to meet the needs of these critical staff members. Acknowledging and addressing some of their concerns could go a long way to reduce attrition and increase employee satisfaction. For too many facilities, however, lack of information is the barrier. Many employees will only report what caused them to leave the institution during their exit interview – too late for corrections to be made that may have retained that valuable worker.
For institutions looking to recruit, addressing some of the concerns of nurses could be a significant factor in attracting top talent. The issues that challenge a nurse in one facility could see a solution in another. Knowing what makes nurses tick, what inspires them and what frustrates could lead to better recruitment efforts as well as better retention outcomes. The first step is knowledge.
You have the knowledge and training to provide the best care to your patients, but do you know how to maintain and grow your medical practice? While medicine is a calling, healthcare is very much a business. Here are a several essential strategies you’ll need to grow your medical practice and keep it off life...
Congratulations! You’re at the light at the end of the tunnel. After spending most of your young adult life in a hospital and making it through the maze of standardized tests, you’ve amassed enough medical knowledge to fill up several Wikipedia pages. You’ve landed a private practice position that excites you, and you are ready to make the transition from trainee to attending- or so you think.
You have the knowledge and training to provide the best care to your patients, but do you know how to maintain and grow your medical practice? While medicine is a calling, healthcare is very much a business.
Here are a several essential strategies you’ll need to grow your medical practice and keep it off life support.
Even if you are in a large, well-established medical group, you will still need to master the art of networking. Growing a medical practice, like any other business, relies on a steady stream of good referrals. Primary care physicians (especially if you are a specialist) and other doctors will become your source of referrals. Medicine is a social network, and it is vital that your name and face be embedded in your colleague’s memory when their patient asks for a GI referral or the best ophthalmologist in town.
Make sure to join your regional or citywide medical association and show up regularly to local, citywide or university held M&M meetings. Embrace social gatherings like holiday parties, wine socials and more. Not only are they packed with great food and good company, they serve as a casual opportunity to put an extra plug in for your practice. For example, I once used a holiday party to convince my colleagues that I truly deserved my preferred OR time slots!
Remember to reciprocate. Offer to give a lecture at city ground rounds or for your local PCP’s office meeting. As you educate your colleagues, you reinforce your specialty expertise or the niche market that you are passionate about building.
While you don’t need an MBA at the end of your already long list of credentials, savvy business skills will serve you well in your career. A streamlined business strategy is vital! Now is the time to make your templates for common patient scenarios (use the templates on your current EMR to serve as a guideline). Solidify your practice preferences; for example, I prefer a three-piece drape for cystoscopy while others prefer a single piece. While both are effective, streamlining your preferences now will allow for a more enjoyable workflow in the future.
If you notice something that works well in training, write it down, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel countless times. I remember my chief resident carrying a notebook and writing down things he liked in the OR and clinic in the last few months of training. It’s also an excellent idea to bluntly ask about the office staff and resources in your new position, so you are not caught off guard by an understaffed office or a shortage of supplies or equipment necessary for your productivity.
Remember your time is money and you’ll need a bit of it to pay off those school loans. Think strategically about your schedule and how you will stick to it. Do you have dedicated administrative time or downtime to respond to patient calls and online queries? You’ll need to make sure that you have time to fit all your activities into your schedule. Remember, in the real world, ACGME work hours do not carry weight, so you will be in charge of building your work-life balance!
While patient-centered care seems to have become a buzz phrase in the last few years, the concept has been conceptualized by modern medicine for much longer. In 1921, Dr. William Lower, the founder of the Cleveland Clinic wrote, “a patient is not dependent on us, we are dependent on them.” These words still hold incredible weight in today’s healthcare arena and for growing your medical practice. Always treat every patient like the most important person on your team.
I remember receiving several direct referrals in the first few months of practice from patients because as they put it, their prior doctor “just did not listen.” While these doctors were all highly skilled, patients prioritize feeling heard by their care providers. Patients talk, and you want it to be all good news.
Sit down when you enter the exam room, shake hands and always address patients- and their questions- respectfully. If issues extend beyond the scheduled time, develop a polite but firm phrase to redirect your patients to follow up at their next appointment or by emailing your office staff. Providing patient-centered care does not take inordinate amounts of time but allows your patients to know that you are sincere, optimizing the doctor-patient relationship that will keep you in business.
A vital key to growing your medical practice is press. While I won’t go as far as to say that “all press is good press,” you do have to be visible to your patients. Set up a recurring meeting to discuss marketing strategies with your office manager, so that you are on the same page as you grow you medical practice’s image. Utilize free and paid advertising, thinking of this as an investment in building your medical practice, rather than an expense.
Free advertising sources like your city’s “Best Doctors” lists or local health fairs or festivals are invaluable. Also consider putting out a press release for any new services your practice is offering in the town newspaper, or use Google or Facebook advertising to increase engagement with your local community online. Never miss an opportunity to ask your patient to leave referrals, especially on your website or physician rating sites. In today’s technological age, almost everyone has a website and social media presence, but remember to update and to engage. Provide incentives for new patient visits or start a “Get healthy for the New Year” or “30-day eye health challenge” for your Facebook or Instagram followers.
Transitioning from trainee to attending is a significant accomplishment. Enjoy the process, but make sure you take the time now to strategize how to make this next step as smooth as possible. Use these tips to grow your medical practice for years to come!
Taking the time to ensure that you have the right staff may be one of the most important elements for a practice. It requires significant time and effort; however, there are few things that can provide a higher return on your investment.
Physicians work extremely hard to obtain their education and build a solid reputation within their community. However, no matter how impressive a provider’s credentials, one negative experience with the office staff can change a patient’s perception.
Office staff are a reflection and extension of the provider. Simply put, they have the ability to make or break a patient’s experience, and sometimes even the success of a practice, which is why finding and retaining the right employees should be a top priority.
Taking the time to ensure that you have the right staff may be one of the most important elements for a practice. It requires significant time and effort; however, there are few things that can provide a higher return on your investment.
1) Think Outside of the Box with Your Candidate Search- Inform your staff and patients you are looking to hire, often the best candidates come via referrals. If your practice has a LinkedIn or Facebook page, post the position on social media. Other suggestions include your local chapter of MGMA, and local universities and community colleges with medical assistant or other allied health programs.
2) Keep an Open Mind When Interviewing- Remember there are many teachable skills. Skills such as scheduling, data entry, and reception duties can be taught if you have a candidate with strong customer service, excellent communication skills, and a positive attitude. Characteristics that are more difficult to teach include: attitude, willingness to learn, flexibility, and strong work ethic. Finding candidates with these qualities is often more imperative to a smooth-running office and a positive patient experience.
3) Go Deeper with Interview Questions– Whether in person or over the phone, go beyond the standard questions about a candidate’s resume and previous job experience. For example, ask them to provide an example of how they handled a challenging situation at their previous job, or how they collaborated with their co-workers to complete a project. Other open-ended questions to consider include:
If your practice is fortunate enough to have an excellent staff, congratulations! You have hit a home run. The next challenge is retaining them, which is a whole new ballgame.
According to an article in Forbes, when employees leave their company for another job, they can typically expect a 10-20% increase in pay; however, if they stay at their current employer, they can expect an average of 3%. So how can medical practices compete and retain top talent? Below are a few strategies for keeping great employees.
1.) Recognition– One of the most common reasons employees leave is because they feel underappreciated. Taking the time to simply thank an exceptional employee, or reward them by giving them an afternoon off, does not cost nearly as much as if they leave. Another best practice is to encourage patients and team members to leave comments about their visit or interactions. Set aside a special time during meetings for acknowledgment. Creating a culture where staff, management, and patients can recognize each other’s value can be priceless.
2.) Engagement- Employee engagement is one of the most important factors in retaining valuable talent. Create an environment of collaboration, mutual respect, and trust by leading discussions and asking staff their suggestions on process improvement. Employees who take initiative should be recognized and encouraged to increase their responsibilities. The key to an engaged workforce is recognizing each individual’s talents and helping them succeed in achieving their goals.
3.) Flexibility – Although it may be challenging for a small medical practice to offer a flexible work schedule, it can often be achieved through strategic scheduling. Allowing staff members to work through lunch to leave early one afternoon, or come in later one morning to accommodate their family schedule, shows you care about their well-being. Giving employees a little flexibility and understanding, can go a long way.
4.) Compensation/Benefits – Compensation and benefits are a useful tool for attracting and retaining top talent. They also play an essential role in employee satisfaction. Although not all employers can easily accommodate, it is an important factor in finding and retaining the best employees. Most often if you pay your best talent more than they are worth, they will rise to a higher level; pay them less, and they will give you just that.
When you’re considering a move, you need to know how earnings in one state compare to the national average... If you’re like most Americans, you want to move to a Sun Belt state with warm weather or a western state with spectacular beauty. Some fast-growing states are huge while others have fewer people than Chicago. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here is what physicians earn in the fastest growing...
If you’re like most Americans, you want to move to a Sun Belt state with warm weather or a western state with spectacular beauty. Some fast-growing states are huge while others have fewer people than Chicago. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here is what physicians earn in the fastest growing states.
Of the ten most populous states, Florida is the fastest growing. The U.S. Census reports that Florida had 20 million+ residents as of July 2017, and it is the fifth fastest growing state overall. Beautiful weather and the lack of a state income tax make it an attractive place to live.
Florida physician jobs generally have above average compensation. Family and general practitioners, obstetricians & gynecologists, and anesthesiologists earn more than the mean for their disciplines ($215,000, $249,730, and $271,610, respectively). Florida psychiatrists, however, have earnings below the mean ($202,430).
Texas now has a massive population of over 28 million. It was the 7th fastest growing state in 2017. There are many physician jobs in Texas because of its massive population growth.
The mean annual wage for Texas physicians in all four categories is lower than the national mean. They earn $204,660 as a family and general practitioners, $209,370 as psychiatrists, $209,580 as ob/gyns, and as $261,670 anesthesiologists.
Washington saw its population grow 10% from the beginning of the decade until 2017. That type of population growth means an increase in physician jobs.
Washington family medicine physicians, psychiatrists, and obstetricians and gynecologists all have higher incomes above the national mean. In fact, family physicians in Washington are the fifth best paid in the country. Only anesthesiologists have earnings lower than the mean.
Thanks to 9%+ population growth since 2010, Arizona now has over seven million residents. It was the sixth fastest growing state in 2017. If you want a warm climate, Arizona is a possible destination for you.
Psychiatrists and anesthesiologists earn more than the annual mean there. Family practice and obstetrics & gynecology jobs in Arizona pay less than the mean. In fact, Arizona OB/GYNs make 12% less than the mean annual wage for the United States.
Idaho earned the title of fastest growing state for 2017. Its population grew over 2% last year. Nevada and Utah rank as the second and third fastest growing states overall.
There are striking differences in the pay between physician jobs in Idaho. Family practice physicians and obstetricians and gynecologists in Idaho have earnings above the national mean while psychiatrists and anesthesiologists earn less than the mean. In fact, OB/GYNs make $46,470 per year more in Idaho while psychiatrists earn $78,810 less than the annual mean.
Both family practice doctors and psychiatrists in Nevada have a mean salary of less than $200K per year. At $268,920, the average for anesthesiologists in Nevada is slightly higher than the national mean. The Bureau of Labor Statistics had no earnings data for obstetricians and gynecologists in Nevada.
The mean annual income for family and general practitioners in Utah is very close to the national average. However, psychiatrists in Utah earn 32% less than the mean, and anesthesiologists make 11% less than the national mean. Only obstetricians and gynecologists see higher earnings in Utah.
Human Resource professionals in every industry are responsive to the needs of their institution; when there’s a vacancy, they spring into action, working diligently to fill the opening with the best talent in the shortest amount of time. Recruitment has been a reactive function for as long as there has been HR. But what if recruitment could be proactive – ready with talent on deck to feed needs even before they happen? That is proactive recruitment: anticipating need and having reserves...
Human Resource professionals in every industry are responsive to the needs of their institution; when there’s a vacancy, they spring into action, working diligently to fill the opening with the best talent in the shortest amount of time. Recruitment has been a reactive function for as long as there has been HR. But what if recruitment could be proactive – ready with talent on deck to feed needs even before they happen? That is proactive recruitment: anticipating need and having reserves ready.
Technology continues to ease the burden on HR professionals in a myriad of ways. Job boards refine candidate searches to niche and specialty markets, reducing the volume of excessive resumes received. Applicant tracking software screens candidates more quickly and efficiently than we ever could, putting top talent at the beginning of our qualified candidate pile. Chatbots and other technology are helping with phone interviews, scheduling, and more. As HR rids itself of these arduous, time-draining tasks, more time is available to be proactive. But how do you start?
The wealth of data all these technologies have afforded you are a gold mine of information. While few recruiters take the time to use them, they can be an invaluable resource. One easy way is to analyze trends. A few to look out for:
When are you searching for a particular type of hire? Is it cyclical to your facility or industry-wide? If it’s particular to your facility, you can plan to recruit for those openings before they come available – before the next cycle begins. If the cycle is industry-wide, can you get a jump on the competition by starting your search earlier in the process?
When are your searches most successful? Analyze which searches resulted in fast, successful hires and which did not. For those that were successful, delve deeper into the data. What sources netted the best applicant pool? Did time to hire affect success rates? Where did cooperation from hiring managers and department heads enhance success?
For searches that didn’t result in hires, even more data analysis is required. Why were sources ineffective? Were there time drains throughout the process that cost you candidates? How can you improve on those? Planning ahead could assure you don’t miss out on top talent the next time around.
You likely participate in a host of hiring opportunities for new graduates in every discipline your facility serves, but can you work more proactively to put your institution top of mind with potential grads? Connecting with them directly, or with their advisers, can put your facility in a position to offer conditional hiring contracts long before they don the cap and gown.
Are there employees poised for promotion whose loss will mean a vacancy? If staffers are closing in on a promotion, plan to start recruiting in the months before the change becomes effective. Is someone looking into a sabbatical, considering maternity leave or any other change in his or her work situation? Work with hiring managers; they have the information you need to plan ahead and assure full coverage, no matter what the circumstance. Have them contact you with any potential loss so you can be proactive in hiring before the need arises.
Substitute teachers have been the norm in the education system for decades. Knowing that coverage will be needed at some point, these employees are on hand when necessary. Most institutions can build their own network of standby workers, as well. Anticipating need could include an on-premises floating staff, ready to fill in wherever necessary. It could also include creating opportunities for substitutes from a host of sources.
Exit interviews can result in invaluable leads. Whenever a quality employee leaves, ask if he or she might be available for standby or part-time work. They may be looking to reduce hours to spend more time with family but would welcome an occasional boost to their finances with work that isn’t permanent.
Candidates who were second choice when a permanent position was filled may also be interested in standby openings, and you could offer them the next vacancy in their desired department when it becomes available.
With all the information available to HR professionals today, becoming proactive in hiring is simply a question of analyzing data and building on the relationships you already have. You could position your facility as never being short-staffed, with some careful planning and cultivating.
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