When to start looking? Should you talk to recruiters? How and where to start? What do you even want to do with your attending life? Lions, tigers, bears, oh heck.

Before you Start – do this!

  1. Get a Google Voice number. Trust me, you do NOT want to use your real number.
  2. Even if you have a professional Gmail account now is the time to get another one (or set up a LOT of filters). Do not use your residency email or that old funny hotmail account. Although typical advice is FirstnameLastname, due to existing bias and racism I chose to use my nickname (instead of ParivashSanders, used PixieSanders)
  3. Create a free cloud storage account if you don’t have a personal DropBox (Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc, pick whichever seems least evil)

When to start looking?

During PGY3 core month in September we had sessions on improving CV and job hunting, because they recommended starting about nine months before graduation. For residents who are in the US on a visa that changes to 12 months prior (ie: basically right now).

Prepare your CV

This is an article all its own, but first update your CV with EVERYTHING you’ve ever done. You’ll end up tailoring your CV for each position, to show how your past experiences fits their practice environment, but always keep a pristine, fully detailed copy of everything you’ve ever done. And before you start working, read the next section. It will help you determine what aspects of your CV to put emphasis into.

What kind of clinical life do you want?

This is a TOUGH question. AAFP has a “job planning and tracking tool” that helps you consider different practice types, locations and practice styles. It’s very basic, but it’s a start. Details on different practice types can be reviewed in this PDF from the NC AFP, although it’s intended to convince you to work for a hospital system.

I always knew I wanted to be an outpatient PCP, but I discovered during residency that I also loved teaching. Should I go into private practice versus an academic setting where I could teach? It’d be nice to have less stress than residency, I’ll pass on full-spectrum with L&D, and I don’t want to have to travel a lot, thus no locums. Procedures are awesome and I want the option to incorporate in my practice, versus having 1-2 shifts of urgent care per month. My residency class endured a lot of inpatient coverage issues and I’m 100% done with inpatient medicine; I know number of nights of call will matter to me a LOT. But I don’t want to lose my pediatric skills; nor do I want to end up doing geriatrics exclusively. Our residency switched from Epic to Cerner during PGY2, so have to know what EHR I’ll be expected to work in, and if there are any plans to change in the next 2-5 years.

What If I Like Too Many Options?

Ultimately, I was torn between two offers. One was a private, outpatient clinic that would let me see a very reasonable number of patients per day, with a mix of all-ages of patients, and a chance to do procedures. The other was with a respected academic hospital system in my home city, also with a reasonable number of patients per day, high teen population and opportunities to have medical students in clinic.

Salary and benefits were essentially identical, one had a higher sign on bonus and the other paid more per year due to higher rent prices in the area. I was incredibly conflicted and ultimately chose the SF location – so I could live near my brother and be a part of my niece’s childhood. Both would have been a good fit, but family comes first. (Of course jokes on me, there’s a pandemic going on and I don’t get to see them!)

You Haven’t Answered All my Questions, Yet.

See this FPM article “How to Find the Job that’s Right for You” for another physician’s break-down of their employment wish list, discussing a wide variety of concerns from attitudes and behavior of other physicians in practice, management, tech and benefits. It’s a really in-depth long form article and worth bookmarking, printing out, highlighting.

What about Recruiters?

This is why you need that Google number. Recruiters are incessant. They will NEVER stop calling you. My personal experience with them was not great, as I had exactly 3 months to do locums and none of the three companies I reached out to could find me something. But I get calls from them at least once a week still. And since the COVID-19 numbers started to surge in AZ I’ve been getting 2-3 calls a day (which I can easily screen.)

Recruiters and recruiting companies get paid to fill a job, not to make you happy. Their goals may not align with yours, and they have no true understanding of the working environment. Many of them sent me messages touting having physicians in their family, as if that made them more trust worthy. That said, others have had good experiences with these groups. Your mileage may vary. Approach with caution.

Closing Reminders/Last Few Tips

  1. Get a Google Voice and a separate email.
  2. Start looking and preparing 9-12 months before end of residency
  3. If you haven’t taken Step 3/Level 3 GET IT DONE (I’m sorry, I know there’s a pandemic and this is a nightmare) but you have to do it so you can apply for your state license as soon as possible. Figure out TODAY how much money you will need to do so (it’s a lot). FYI, the Arizona DO Board took 3 months, but the CA DO board took almost 7. Find out the timeline in the state you plan to practice in.
  4. Definitely read FPM’s “How to Find the Job that’s Right for You

I hope this was helpful for you and will get you started on figuring out your next Major Life Decision. If you have questions you can send us a message via the website, or @FMStudent on Twitter.

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