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Physicians, Choose Wisely: 4 Tips for Finding Your Next Job

Choosing your employer is the next most important decision you will make for yourself. That employment contract is the most important use of his signature he will write and it will affect his happiness for years to come, even the rest of his career. Physician Associates and Nurse Practitioners: This also applies to you.

1. Decide where you want to live. Location matters, and in today’s polarized political environment, choosing a state or region to live in that aligns with your personal beliefs and desires is critical. Whatever your beliefs or desires, make sure that what you choose aligns with them. Including your partner and family in your decision is important. Rural, suburban, urban, proximity to stores, quality of school, restaurants, hunting and fishing all matter differently to different people. Ideally, choose two or three areas that work.

2. Find potential employers in that region. Few regions do not need more doctors of any specialty. Even if it doesn’t seem like there are any openings, keep looking, call and talk to local doctors, hospitals, employers and groups. Beware of recruiters, who are essentially salespeople who profit from placing you in a job. They can be very helpful, but they may not have your best interests in mind.

3. Research the employers you find. That doesn’t mean listening only to the recruiter or trusting the answers of those who interview you. Find peer reviews. Some key questions: What is the physician turnover? Why are the doctors leaving? High turnover or hesitation in answering those questions should be a clue.

4. Carefully review any contract before you sign it. Have your contract reviewed by an experienced healthcare attorney. Don’t use the family attorney. There are too many subtleties in the employment of a doctor that a general practice attorney may not fully understand. Restrictive agreements, hours worked, call times and reimbursement clauses are critical issues that will affect your future. Assume nothing, and the cost of a contract review will often save that amount in saved aggravation. There is no such thing as a “standard” contract.

So you decide to take a job and have done all of the above. You have a big salary coming soon. There is only one caveat here. Don’t commit to a big house. After all that careful work, selling a house will add to your problems if you’re not satisfied. Rent for a year, or buy a house below your means but in a range that is easy to sell. Learn about neighborhoods, schools, stores and where your colleagues live. After a one-year stay, if you are satisfied, buy your dream home.

I have talked to hundreds of doctors who regret not following these simple steps and are unhappy and stuck.

Gaspere C. Geraci, MD, is a family physician.

This post appeared on Kevin MD.

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