Staying organized during your medical job search will help you properly evaluate each job opportunity and may reduce the sense of being overwhelmed by all the options out there. Using the same set of criteria to evaluate each position, you will be able to determine if it fits your clinical, cultural and professional needs. Evaluate each community for your “fit” – leisure activities, professional options for your significant other, family choices and proximity to family or to an airport. Considering that you may look at 15-20 jobs in a fairly tight time frame, it is important to have a system to stay organized. The first rule: a notebook will be your most important tool during the whole medical job search process, write everything down, and be sure to write legibly so you can decipher your notes later on in the process. Get a couple of spiral notebooks, preferably with pockets in the covers, this will be useful on site visits.
First – let’s look at clinical and professional needs. Get out your notebook, think about your ideal practice and write down your answers to these questions. Are you seeking an employed setting or an independent group? If you are a surgeon, is a single hospital important to you or are you interested in multiple hospitals and surgery centers? What things are important to you as an individual physician – Call schedules or salary? Collegiality and mentoring? Do you prefer smaller groups or larger ones? Multi-specialty or single specialty? Also, are the types of cases important to you or are you looking for an academic setting or a hybrid opportunity to do some teaching in an independent practice? Do you thrive in a busy, intense setting or do you prefer a more laid back, quiet milieu? How important is loan repayment assistance?
Next, do the same for your needs in the community. Will you be moving alone or with a significant other or a family? Will you be considering the professional needs of a partner? Do you have children or a partner with special needs? Are nearby schools and colleges important to you? It may have been a long time since you have had the option to think about leisure time, but what do you like to do when you are not working? Do you want to be near to family? Or near to an airport? Do you prefer a certain climate or wish to be near ski or sailing destinations? Do you need parks, bicycle trails? Arts, museums, orchestras? Professional sports teams? Make lists – lots of them. Lists of your favorite pass times, types of food and restaurants you enjoy and favorite activities.
Refine your priorities. Create a list of your top five professional priorities. Remember your list will be highly individualized. Pick five and stick with them. Next, do the same for a community. Remember to pick your top five only. You have now created your personal priority list so when a recruiter asks you what is important in your job search; you have a clear idea of what you want. Now, you are ready to begin talking to recruiters and reviewing job boards. When you evaluate an opportunity, think about your criteria. Take notes about each job, think about advantages and disadvantages, jot down questions that arise. Do as much research on each position and community as possible before deciding to do a site visit. Remember to use discretion – you will only have time to do a few site visits, be sure you don’t waste your time and energy on locations that do not meet your criteria. Take thorough notes during your site visit, it will be helpful later.
Use your 10 criteria during the initial evaluation period and during your site visits. Most doctors do not make these decisions in a vacuum; ask your partner to make his or her own list for community criteria. They may or may not match your list, no matter. As you are traveling back home after a site visit, rank each of your criteria on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. You will have a possible score of 25 for clinical/professional and 25 for community fit. Write this down in your notebook. It is crucial to evaluate the position and community quickly after your visit. It is difficult to remember every detail of your site visit, and they will blend together if you do several visits. Ask your partner to rank the job as well, independently of your ranking, and share your thoughts only after you have completed the exercise.
When you are holding one or more offers, you will have a way to evaluate and rank the opportunities. This written record is a simple way to help keep you organized and establish a strategy for what can be an overwhelming amount of information. Additional tips: Use your cell phone camera to snap a few pictures; visual images will serve as memory boosters.