It’s a tough world out there and everyone is trying to find a job. This can be difficult for someone who just finished their residency and is looking for an actual job for the first time in their life. Looking for part-time jobs during college is definitely different, as these jobs are usually temporary and they’re only needed to supplement a student’s finances through college and med school. Looking for a job as a doctor is a completely different issue with many more complexities. You don’t want to switch jobs every year or two, and you should be looking to work somewhere you hope to stay for a very long time.
Doctors spend years learning medicine. They spend 4 years in college followed by 4 years of medical school. When all of that is over, they then apply for residencies which are usually 3-5 years long. After residency, they may choose to pursue a fellowship or decide to start working. During all these years, there’s lots of training on how to diagnose, treat, do procedures, and deal with patients. Doctors, however, never learn things like how to look for a job or contract negotiation. That’s why so many may land terrible first jobs, because there were so many things they were unaware of. A bad practice, a terrible boss, excessive workload, and other clauses and agreements that they may not even be aware of can ruin a job for someone.
One of the things doctors should look out for when assessing whether to join a practice or not is the turnover of physicians. If a practice has a doctor leaving and another coming in every month, then it’s probably not the best place to work. The best places to work are those where people join and love it so much that they don’t consider leaving unless something really tempting comes along. A practice that repeatedly has doctors leaving and joining must be doing something wrong. What reason would have someone leave a job they joined less than a year ago? Sure, it could happen that a doctor received a significantly better offer somewhere else, but that’s unlikely to keep happening with almost everyone who joins a practice. After all, it’s a workplace not an agency for brilliant young doctors. So it’s important to watch for the turnover where you’re applying to work. If so many people are coming and going, then you’re likely to be one of them as well, and you don’t want your first job to only last a few months.
You should also consider your boss and how good of a leader he or she is. If you join a practice where everyone is motivated and has a great time at work, then the boss is probably someone you want to work for and learn from. On the other hand, if everyone else working in an office is miserable and dreads going to work, then you may want to be like them. A good boss is someone who motivates their employees and makes sure they achieve their full potential. Any clever leader knows that if the whole team is to benefit, then each member of the team has to shine. A bad leader is one who makes his or her employees hate going to work so much that it feels like being trapped. Bad leaders aren’t the smartest people because they can never get the best out of their employees and the overall performance of the practice will be low. So do you want to work somewhere that pushes you and allows you to fulfill your potential? Or would you rather work somewhere that sucks the life out of you and makes you seriously consider just staying in bed every morning?
You may get a sense of what the working conditions are like by talking to other doctors and staff members in the practice. Ask them how they feel about their current job and how things are with the boss. It can be hard to know whether or not the turnover is high in an office, so you could ask people how long they’ve been working there. If almost everyone you ask has been working there for less than a year, then you know that people are often leaving. This, of course, doesn’t apply if the practice only started a year ago.
You should also pay attention to how much work you’re getting and your responsibilities. A bad practice for you to join would be one where you do most of the work while everyone else takes leave for vacation. That’s not fair at all. Yes, you’re being compensated, but if you’re getting paid as much as them but doing twice or even more of the work then that’s not an environment you want to be working in. They clearly hired you to throw all the work on you, so they can leave and enjoy their lives outside of work.
Contracts are often too complicated and contain too many words and points that you have never seen or heard of before. One of the clauses that can be present in a contract that you may be unaware of is a non-compete agreement. This agreement basically means that if you leave, you can’t take any of the office’s clients with you. Basically, if the office has 100 clients and you decide to work somewhere else, you get zero of the hundred. You have to start over. This can be very difficult to do, as a practice established in a specific location will probably already have the trust of the community there. Who are people more likely to trust? A practice they’ve known for 5 years or someone who is only getting started? So you not only lost the patients you had at your old practice, but it would be extremely hard to get new ones in the same community. This will lead to you relocating somewhere else looking to start there on your own or join another practice. So always make sure there are no non-compete agreements or clauses in your contract, or that they’re not absolute and at least only restrict you a little bit if you decide to leave.
Malpractice insurance is something else you must make sure is included in your contract. You may one day face the reality that you’re being sued by a patient. When that happens, you’re going to need malpractice insurance to cover the expenses of the lawsuit. The last thing you need is to be facing this on your own. Even if the practice does pay for it if you don’t have malpractice insurance then it will be considered as debt that you have to repay. You definitely don’t want to add more debt to your student loans.
Like we said, contracts can be confusing. Make sure you read every single word and every single clause in them to avoid any problems in the future. If you find that there’s something that is ambiguous or you don’t really understand, then ask about it and make sure you know what you’re signing. Also, if you agree with your employers on something over dinner or an interview, then make sure it’s written in the contract. There’s no such thing as assuming that it’ll happen just because they said it would. You need to have it written in the contract to ensure your rights and guarantee you get what was agreed upon. It’s probably best to have a lawyer look over your contract to make sure that everything is in order and that you’re not at any disadvantage.
Finding a new job can be stressful, but you never want to jump at the first opportunity you get. You need to guarantee your rights and safety. Make sure you’re working for a great hospital or practice, that your boss is a pleasant person who wants you to succeed, and that your contract has what you agreed upon and can’t hurt you in the future.
- Looking for a decent job is one scenario that trainee doctors often aren't prepared for.
- Look over your contract closely to make sure you aren't taken by surprise.
- Study a practice and its employees before accepting a job there.