In the spring of 2008, I was flying high and feeling good as one of the chief residents at my Family Medicine program. I was taking hospital call, seeing patients confidently in clinic and managing the call and clinic schedules of the upper level residents. There was only one problem. I was so busy focusing on everyone else’s life, that I forgot to take care of my own. I had not taken Step 3 of my boards and I had not found a job. I hadn’t even started looking! As the end of residency neared, I had no prospects. If you’re a junior resident, use this as a cautionary tale. If you are done in June, take heart. There’s still time to find something great!
I used a recruiter to help me find some places to interview. I ultimately did not choose those places, but I found the service to be helpful. The recruiter I had did not make me feel pressured, but recruiters from other companies have. I got (and still get) bombarded with phone calls and emails on a daily basis from companies who seem to want any physician to fill their positions. In hindsight, it would have been better for me to create a job search email and maybe even get a separate phone number. This would have kept my personal phone and email inbox from being inundated with unwanted messages.
I found my first job by putting my information on the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) job board. Check the website of your specialty’s academy. You may be able to search opportunities and create a profile for employers to find you. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has a job board as well, at http://www.jamacareercenter.com/ . It is searchable by state and specialty.
Locum Tenens is what I’m doing now. It’s given me time to write my book and build my business. Locums is a flexible option if you don’t want to tie yourself down to one place with a long-term contract. you can travel (all expenses paid) or you can fill in for doctors in and around your own city. You choose where, when and how long you want to work. Check out veteran locum physician, Dr. Stephanie Freeman’s eBook here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Locum-Tenens-Your-Questions-Answered to find out how to rock this kind of work.
Your local Urgent Care may have an opening. I went to one near my house just to get a refill on blood pressure medicine and they offered me a job on the spot! They seemed to have flexible schedule and good benefits. It just wasn’t what I was looking for at the time.
Telemedicine is another option for employment. Check the laws where you plan on practicing. Different rules apply for different locations. In some states, you must be licensed in the state where the company originated. Some states require you to have a license for the state where the patient is located during the visit. Click It Clinic is one of the premier companies in telemedicine and is owned by physicians. You can find them at www.clickitclinic.com .
Go for an international opportunity, like Doctor Without Borders. They require a minimum commitment of 9 to 12 months for most specialties. They may offer a shorter assignment for surgical specialties like General Surgery, Ob/GYN and Anesthesiology. Physicians must have an MD or DO and a current license. You must have completed residency.
Start your application for licensure ASAP. Some states can take as long as three months to approve you. Even if you don’t have your board scores in hand, start filling in the information you do have. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has links to each state’s medical board on their website. Click here to get started: https://www.fsmb.org/licensure/fcvs/state-requirements . You can start gathering the accompanying documents like transcripts, letters of recommendation and diplomas.
Don’t be so panicked to find a job that you barely read your contract. I did not read mine carefully, but thankfully there was nothing in it that was detrimental. What should you be looking for? Make sure you check the length of commitment, how much notice you have to give before leaving, responsibilities such as supervising others and far-reaching non-compete clauses. You don’t have to accept terms that aren’t beneficial to you just because you’re a brand new doctor and eager to find a job. You have the power to negotiate. They need you. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be looking. As the Sprite commercial says, “know yourself, know your worth.” Go out there and get it!
Jarita Hagans, MD is a Family Practice physician and author of the forthcoming book, MD Dreams: Practical advice for Every Stage from Premed to Residency and Beyond. You can follow her on Twitter @doctorjarita.