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Afraid Of Job Change?

Stay Competitive, Keep Your Resume Updated And Regularly Shop Around For Better Jobs

I think many doctors are stuck in bad jobs because they are afraid to leave the security of it. Looking for a new job scares them and they’d rather stay in the same unhappy situation rather than braving the unfamiliar. In this post I want to talk about a few ways to keep yourself competitive and mention a few hurdles to overcome in order to be less job dependent.

This site is obviously more about urgent care docs. Then again, many family medicine docs are battling 2,000-3,000 patient panels and spinning their wheels wishing they could make a bigger difference or leave their careers for something more satisfying. Maybe it’s an inferiority complex of not being specialists or maybe it’s a mindset of loyalty to our jobs that keeps us from initiating a change.

We also just aren’t used to job hunting. The market is so desperate for clinicians that we sometimes just land the most convenient jobs right out of residency. Many of us have no idea how to market ourselves and we don’t keep our resumes current.

Let’s Talk About Resumes

Where is your resume right now? I keep my resume in my favorites folder of my online document which forces me to keep it current – well, so I thought…I decided to look through it before writing this post. I’m embarrassed to say that it wasn’t current at all. Usually, when I take on any new position at work or if I leave a job I try to add some sort of blurb in there about it. For whatever reason I haven’t been doing that the past couple of years – problem identified, problem solved.

It took me may be 30 minutes to go in there and clean it up, get rid of the ‘2009-present’ crap… what was I thinking using ‘present’ as a date. That’s a no-no. I changed the formatting a bit because Times New Roman is so early 2000’s.

I actually would recommend that you go on Linkedin and enter all your relevant info into that website. Make sure to change your privacy setting to your comfort level. People have a lot of fear of their information being stolen but on most of these websites you can enter as little as you like.

Getting Institutionalized

This is a common term you hear once you’ve worked enough places. I have colleagues at Kaiser Permanente and say that they have been ‘kaiser-ized’ so it is hard for them to leave that system and learn a new one. Especially when you work with a select number of generic medications it can be daunting to have to start learning new medications.

When I was at UCLA some of the attendings would say that they had gotten used to the UCLA network too much to get up and leave. They knew the specialists and even the phone operators, getting to know everyone in a new medical group was a big hurdle for them.

UCLA and Kaiser are large medical groups so there isn’t as much of a risk of your skills becoming obsolete. You don’t think your skills can become obsolete? Think again, there are clinicians who practice in the city jails, the prisons and who are board certified in Family Medicine but all they do is perform pre-employment exams for new hires or prescribe Seroquel all day long.

When you get into these niche positions it is easy to forget your broader clinical knowledge. Not having practiced those skills will be yet another reason for you to want to stay in your current job. Of course, if you are perfectly happy and dancing in circles because your job is so fucking awesome then by all means, don’t make any changes. But even the easiest, highest paying gigs can wear us out at times.

How To Look For Jobs

Think outside the  box. You aren’t some schmuck who is competing with 100 other applicants for the same position. You are a physician who is highly educated, skilled and experienced. Are you timid about talking to the recruiter? Learn to get over that, practice a few times with friends or family and you’ll be a master in no time.

The Google Method

Type in your zip code into google. Then click on the google maps. Type in urgent care. Then click on whatever clinics pop up in your browser. Some clinics you wouldn’t be caught dead in but others are probably worth exploring. They may or may not have a website. If they do then click on the ‘careers’ link or ‘jobs’ link. If that’s not available then call the office and ask for the HR lead or recruiter or clinic director. Speak to them about positions that may be available and go from there.

Next, you can go to the hundreds of journal websites that now list jobs. I talked about this before a few months ago. NEJM and JAMA list jobs all the time. Many medical journals have job listings in the back as well. Pick up hard copies or just go on their site.

Other websites like Monster and Glass Door have physician job listings as well. Even Craigslist has job postings for clinicians. Sometimes you will only see PA or NP positions listed. If you have enough faith in yourself I assure you that you can land the same position as a qualified MD or DO with the higher pay. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Also, contact job recruiters. You can find physician recruiters online. They are hit or miss. But worth a try if you work in a market that’s either saturated or has very few medical jobs available. One of the best I know (but it’s local to Los Angeles) is Tracy Zweig. I have listed the following which have a decent reputation: Merritt Hawkins, Vista Staffing, and Barton Associates. I highly recommend asking the larger recruiters exactly how they will be paid for their job placement, there are circumstances where you may get screwed if you go through them. Do your research.

If you live in a larger city then explore the university systems and their websites. Their job listing sites are usually shitty so it may be a 300-click endeavor just to find the night janitor job that you may be overqualified for. These larger medical systems often rely on third-party recruiters to find them applicants. So you may just need to email the HR person and get the right contacts and go from there.

One word about emailing HR; generally they are very slow to respond and quite often will lose your contact information, resume etc. I recommend calling back multiple times, emailing multiple times and even showing up in person for a job. I speak from experience.

Lastly, contact the free clinics in the area. These sometimes don’t get a lot of press but man, they have awesome gigs available. I can talk about the Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles. Ah man, what an awesome place to work. Super nice colleagues, dedicated staff and friendly patients. The added bonus was that some of the finest community specialists would come volunteer their time there so you could learn great medicine from the best-of-the-best.

Hurdles Of A Job Change

I'm don't want to learn a new healthcare system...

Yes, and it can seem daunting but remember, they will train the shit out of you. Medical groups and even private clinics realize that you will be less effective if you don’t know their system and it’s not the first time they are hiring someone. So have faith in capitalism, they will get you trained so you can make them money.

Realize that you will also make friends quickly and they will show you the ropes. If you are an asshole then you may not want to count on that last point quite as much.

I don't want to learn a new EMR...

I feel you on this. EMR is one of the worst things that happened to medicine but… for us urgent care doc’s it’s not as bad as you think. There are order sets and templates that most EMR’s have built-in for the acute care visits. And, if you really hate the EMR then you can usually get some sort of dictation system installed for you that will do everything you need it to.

I don't want to mess with my retirement accounts...

Don’t you even go there with me on that stuff! I’ve written a ton about retirement accounts, what they are, how you can move them around and their idiosyncrasies. And if you hate the shit I write then at least go check out websites like Investopedia, Bogleheads and The White Coat Investor. I particularly like the bogleheads forum because you can ask whatever question you might have about investing and many knowledgeable and professionals will answer your questions accurately, for free.

Any retirement account you have that you are vested in you can take with you. Some retirement accounts require you to work for an employer for a couple of years before you can take it with you. Make your decision wisely, sticking around at a job you hate just so you can take $25k with you may not be worth it. I would guess that many doctors stick around at terrible jobs for the benefits alone, which is a shame.


How many times have you changed jobs since residency?

Are you aware of how much competitors are willing to pay you? Is that second-hand information or have you researched it for yourself?

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