Healthcare Career Resources is a blog for those who work in the healthcare industry. We cover topics ranging from current events to medical humor as well as more career focused topics such as job search and interview tips. We also publish articles written for healthcare human resources and physician recruiters.
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I am an emergency physician. I provide care to abusive patients via a clunky EMR. I work nights, weekends and holidays. Because of unnecessary bureaucratic tasks, simple aspects of my job are cumbersome and take longer than they should. And I am not burned...
It’s a matter of perspective.
I am an emergency physician.
I provide care to abusive patients via a clunky EMR. I work nights, weekends and holidays. Because of unnecessary bureaucratic tasks, simple aspects of my job are cumbersome and take longer than they should.
And I am not burned out.
It would not matter if I was the CEO of my own company, worked the ticket booth at the movie theatre or were a freelance writer living on Fiji; I know there would be parts of those jobs I would hate and parts would I love—working in medicine is really no different.
The reasons below are why I don’t regret my decision to become a physician. If I had it to do over, I might do it a little differently, but I would definitely do it again.
Below are a few reasons I am not burned out from medicine.
Medicine has a strange tendency to apply diagnoses to normal human reactions. The everyday is stuffed into medical terms so medicine can know what to do with them.
When it comes to the abstract painting that is human emotion, this is a classic square peg, round hole problem.
One can’t simply be in disbelief, she is in denial.
One doesn’t miss a deceased relative, he experiences a grief reaction.
And one doesn’t doubt her career choice, she is burned out.
Keeping perspective means you stop medicalizing normal human experiences. Normal is a spectrum, whether you’re talking about a relationship, your emotional state, or a career.
Top performers have high days and low days. They question their motivations and their decisions. So do people at the bottom—it’s a normal part of the human experience.
There certainly are people who are legitimately burned out. But not everyone who is second guessing a career or experiences a symptom of burnout meets the criteria. Not every low day is the beginning of a deep depression.
Some of us just want more than what medicine will ever offer. Maybe we just have multiple interests, many things we want to experience, more than one life we want to lead.
Keeping this perspective has helped me avoid burnout. It helps me to remember that when I experience despair, I don’t need to latch onto the diagnosis of burnout; I am not powerless and I don’t need to operate from a box called “burnout.” I can put those feelings in perspective and either accept them or change.
Though medicine is a lifestyle choice, it’s not a marriage. There’s no reason you can’t step out and experience something new once in a while.
And if you do decide to pursue other interests, it doesn’t prove that you’ve lost your passion, it proves you’re human.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Questions of meaning orbit the burnout experience.
Do you have meaning? Does it matter that you showed up to work today? What is your real purpose?
For me, the key to answering questions of meaning and burnout has been to think about it from the perspective of the patients: those people I entered this career to serve.
From their perspective, physicians always have meaning. Even on the worst days, if you really think about it, you can always find a person whose life you impacted positively – someone whose pain you alleviated or whose diagnosis you helped explain.
Or even someone who you reassured—it’s truly hard to find a day where you can’t find a single person you benefited.
And from that person’s perspective, it mattered that you woke up, choked down some coffee and came to work. From their perspective, you have meaning.
The more I am able to make this career less about me and more about the patients, the less I experience symptoms of burnout.
Even at my lowest points, there are aspects of being a physician that I will never regret.
The clearest example is the experience of humanity. A new mother’s face when she sees her child for the first time. A mother’s face when you tell her the news about her teenager’s car accident. Giving a terminal diagnosis. Telling someone he’s in remission. Healing, unimaginable pain, vulnerability.
When I die, I will have experienced more of people in their most raw form than I ever would in any other career.
The daily work of a physician is the stuff of dramas. Your experience of people explodes in a thousand dimensions when you become a physician, and it becomes a part of you; this is an evolution I will never regret.
As a physician, you possess a knowledge coveted by most people—how do your lungs work? Why do you have to pee more when it’s cold? How do you do CPR and how do hospitals work?
The information obtained through becoming a physician is also a great body of knowledge to possess—it will always be useful, it will always be interesting and, most likely, it will always keep you employed.
The experiences and knowledge I have assumed have only been assumed because of this career choice; remembering this has kept negative thoughts in perspective.
I also enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom as a physician. That freedom is very important to me and has kept me satisfied with my job.
I know that not every specialty is built like emergency medicine—but I’m never on call. My time off is my time off. I work, I see patients, and then I go home. I could, quite literally, turn my phone and email off if I chose.
I submit my availability on a monthly basis—and if I can’t work five days because I’m taking a vacation in the middle of March, no one can complain—I’m an independent contractor.
Naturally, there are some expectations on how much I work. But these are expectations that would exist in any job on earth. I must work a certain number of hours per month, but the difference is that I can pick when those hours are (or are not). I take several vacations per year and can arrange time off when I need it.
I have a freedom I would never have with a 9–5 job, and I am tremendously grateful that I do.
According to Salary.com, emergency physicians average about $287K/year and work about 170 hours/month.
The average income in the US is about $48K/year.
And, as it turns out, you need about $75K/year to be happy (or, more appropriately, one doesn’t become happier if they make more than about $75K/year, adjusted by state).
Generally speaking, even if I worked half-time as an emergency physician, I’d still make about three times the national average and well over the amount I’d need to live a comfortable life in the US.
In other words, physicians are financially quite stable. So even during the low points—times when you’re considering a new life or you just need to cut back, you know you have quite a nice cushion to fall back on.
The financial security of being a physician provides a lot to be thankful for.
It’s very likely that I will always have a job.
There is a predicted shortage of physicians in the US and there will never be a time when people aren’t getting sick. Doctors will always be needed in some capacity.
Even if you lose interest in clinical medicine, the knowledge you possess still has value. Working in private industry, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, file review, expert witnessing, writing, consulting—there are plenty of ways to monetize the knowledge base of a physician.
Regardless of your career trajectory, there is job security in being a physician that most other industries do not enjoy.
Keeping these perspectives in mind has helped me avoid burnout. They’re thoughts about this career that buoy some of the natural, negative experiences.
I have found them helpful; I hope you do too.
The key to successfully answering interview questions is to understand the reason that they are being asked, and to answer them while keeping in mind the interviewer’s motivation for asking the question.
Interviews are perhaps the most important part of a job application process. When interviewing, there are several questions that are commonly encountered. Knowing how to answer these questions can significantly enhance your chances of being successful in the application process.
The key to successfully answering interview questions is to understand the reason that they are being asked, and to answer them while keeping in mind the interviewer’s motivation for asking the question.
This question, or variations of it, is very common, and it allows you the chance to introduce yourself to the interviewer. Your answer to this question can set the foundation of the interview and influence your interviewer’s initial impression of you.
When answering this question, the key will be to tell a story, not list the history that you have provided on your resume. Your story is unique to you, and telling a story helps to provide an account of your background in a way that engages with your interviewer. Describe what influenced you, what motivates you, and who affected your life along your journey. Be sure that you prepare ahead of time for this question, as you are likely to encounter it, and it will have a significant effect on the rest of your interview.
This question may also be asked as “why do you want this position? or “why do you want to be a ______?” or some other variation. Interviewers ask this question to get a feel for your motivations for working for them, as this will impact how you perform your job.
There are several ways to answer this question, and your answer will be unique. The key to answering this question is to focus on motivations that are focused on others. Many people will fall into the trap of discussing how they think the job will benefit them. While you can include some of the personal benefits that you hope to obtain, be sure to focus on how you want to be part of their team and contribute to their goals. Be specific in your answers, using specific examples of what opportunities to contribute excite you.
Your interviewer may ask this question in many different ways, but the motivation for this question will be to ensure that you understand and have thought about the difficult aspects of the job.
Be sure that you have considered the possible negative aspects of the job prior to the interview and have thought through how you feel about them. Be sure to answer this question in a way that shows that you have considered the difficult areas of the job, but also in a way that does not convey that you would find the position unpleasant or overly difficult. It will also be necessary to avoid discounting how difficult the job is likely to be, as this can make it seem like you do not have a realistic view of the position.
This is one question that people tend to not want to get in their interview. Unfortunately, that makes it a question that interviewers will be more likely to want to ask.
The best way to answer this question is to select a weakness that you have and address it. Obviously, don’t bring up a weakness that could sink your chances at the job, but bring up something that sounds insightful. Do not just name a weakness that you have, but also address how you are trying to improve on that area and what your plan is to remedy it. Be sure not to say that you do not have any weaknesses, because everyone has weaknesses, and denying having weaknesses shows that you do not have good insight into your abilities.
There are a myriad of ways that this can be asked, and it will not typically be very direct. Some examples could be “Tell me about a conflict you had between a team member and how you resolved it.” or “What was the thing you liked most about working with your last team?”
One of the biggest keys to answering this question is to recognize it when it is asked. There are many different ways that this topic can be asked, and it will not always be obvious that this is what the question is about. If the interviewer is asking a question about interactions that you had with team members or problems with a team member, they are probably trying to figure out how well you will fit into their team. Be sure to recognize these types of questions and answer them by emphasizing your strengths as a team member.
In today's rapidly evolving global situation, leaders must think differently and mandate that their troops approach problem-solving with a fresh set of eyes and a clear perspective, ensuring success.
In today’s rapidly evolving global situation, leaders must think differently and mandate that their troops approach problem-solving with a fresh set of eyes and a clear perspective, ensuring success.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Quick decisions must be made.
Acceptance of imperfect action is better than no action. Your decisions will produce scars. View them as a badge of honor and participation rather than viewing them as shortcomings.
It’s also important to celebrate small wins. Life in the trenches of medicine is challenging enough.
With the current global viral outbreak, it is even more imperative to celebrate little moments of victory. Encourage your staff and applaud their efforts. Showing up is a testament to character and commitment – honor that.
Don’t underestimate the power of gratitude. Thank yourself and your staff for the remarkable daily effort.
It’s also essential to accept reality and humanity and one’s personal limits. The onslaught of patients, increasing wait times, and the potential of exponential inequality of care are upon us all.
Show up. Lead by example. Be a professional – that’s how you are built.
It’s also important to instill an ethos of antifragility in your team. Encourage thick skin and let the water roll off the back. As a leader, you will have the privilege of demonstrating this skill often.
People are and will be at their worst. Patients expect their providers to be at their best always and to take everything they dish out and not retaliate.
While many administrators cite a policy of not accepting or tolerating abuse, the reality of what truly happens is often a far cry from that sentiment.
With patient satisfaction scores, online doctor ratings, and Press Ganey scores, providers are forced to swallow their pride and put their most humble face forward. Don’t let the ego become the rate-limiting step.
The take-home point is to realize that it’s not about you.
Hurt people, hurt people.
Sick people are not in a position to be kind or compassionate. Accept this and do not hold or carry grudges -continue doing the work.
It is your gift.
Acknowledge the fact that you and your team are doing the best that they can given the present circumstances with the current resources. Medicine is a fishbowl, and one must ignore those looking in from the safety of the shore in times of trouble waters.
Leaders must recognize and embrace a culture of self-care. While it’s tempting to reward staff with cookies, pizza, and sugary drinks, this will do little good other than in the immediate moment. Many of our comrades will fall sick during this battle, and it will result in learning to play short.
Most likely, you understand the critical elements of self-care. You instruct your patients on it daily.
Sleep, meditation, exercise, hydration, and restoration are more critical now than ever. Empower yourself as a leader and your team by reinforcing empowering habits.
The current circumstances are evolving at an exponential pace. Trying to accomplish superhuman feats using outmoded systems and procedures will only lead to frustration. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules. Challenge the established paradigms and create new avenues, methods, procedures, tactics, and strategies that can be rapidly deployed to meet the demand head-on.
You are a leader, and how you deal with the current circumstances has the potential to create legacy or infamy.
Step forward into growth by being the leader your team needs today.
The choice is up to you.
A tough job market and struggling to find a job fresh out of school are becoming increasingly common issues. With the changes in healthcare, experience has become one of the preferred traits of applicants, and it often seems that WHO you know is more important than WHAT you know, with personal connections being one of the best ways to even be considered for an interview. This article will explore some of the common challenges with finding employment in healthcare after graduation and offer...
Completing a degree in healthcare is quite an accomplishment. Years of rigorous courses, studying and memorizing large amounts of information, and attending countless hours of clinical experience can feel like climbing Mt. Everest, but the excitement and anticipation of a new career upon finishing is a welcome reward. Unfortunately, sometimes that eagerness to get to work with your new degree is quickly replaced by discouragement over the job market, the interview process, and the lack of reciprocal excitement from the clinics and hospitals in your area.
A tough job market and struggling to find a job fresh out of school are becoming increasingly common issues. With the changes in healthcare, experience has become one of the preferred traits of applicants, and it often seems that WHO you know is more important than WHAT you know, with personal connections being one of the best ways to even be considered for an interview. This article will explore some of the common challenges with finding employment in healthcare after graduation and offer helpful suggestions for finally landing that dream job.
One of the most common difficulties as a new graduate in healthcare is the lack of experience to sell yourself to employers. Many job applications now are online and ask you to indicate your years of experience at the very beginning. The choices are often set up with “0-2 years” as an option, lumping even those with a few years of experience into the same category as complete novices. This designation as “inexperienced” can be frustrating, as many new graduates are still quite knowledgeable and capable and would make excellent contributions to a diverse team.
One of the best ways to express your skills and knowledge base even without years of experience is to include your clinical experience on your resume. Put a section about your “Skills and Experience” just after your education details so that hiring managers will see this before even getting to your work experience. This is a great place to list hours of experience, particular areas of interest or skill, any equipment or technology (especially Electronic Medical Records) you are familiar with, and any teams or projects you may have participated in, even just as an observer.
When interviewing, sell yourself as a clean slate that is excited and willing to adapt to a particular clinic or unit and become their ideal team member. Give specific examples of things you may have accomplished or learned throughout your clinical experience and show passion for continuing to learn. Make it known that, even without years of experience, you can be a valuable asset to the team.
Depending on your geographic area or specialty area of interest, there may be very few jobs even posted for your particular qualifications. The market may be saturated, turnover at surrounding companies may be low, or jobs may be being filled internally, leaving little space for a newcomer.
This is where thinking outside of the box becomes useful. Do not limit yourself to applying only where open positions are made obvious. Think of any office, private practice, clinic, health department, or other less traditional facility in town and call to inquire if they have any openings. Visiting a clinic or hospital in person is a good way to drop off a resume and provide a face with a name. Call or email companies and ask to speak to someone involved in the hiring process; even if they aren’t currently hiring, tell them you’d love to help carry out the mission of the company, and ask if you can send a resume for future reference. Often this personal touch will make you memorable or even someone that they don’t want to risk losing. I have personally landed two different jobs at companies without posted openings just by “cold-calling” and having a friendly conversation with a manager and following up with a thank you email and my resume. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Having a connection to an individual that works for a company already, or even someone involved in the hiring process, can definitely help bypass some of the red tape of an anonymous application. Knowing the right person can help get your resume pulled from a large stack and get you a chance to interview and really sell yourself. But what can you do if you have no such connections?
Networking is a skill anyone can learn and should be practiced even throughout your education program and clinicals. Introduce yourself often, try to remember small details about others, go to lunches or meetings with your preceptor and just generally try to make yourself known. If you have already missed this opportunity or perhaps moved to a different area than where you completed your education, it is not too late! Volunteer at the hospital or facility where you wish to work and start meeting people this way. Go to job fairs put on by the company or apply for an internship program there. Every person you meet who is affiliated with the company is one more person with whom to network and possibly provide more connections. Even an interview that did not result in being hired was a networking opportunity! Finally, don’t be afraid to utilize the connections you do have. Ask respected professionals you know to use them as references and include them in your resume. You may have someone on your side who has a connection you didn’t even know about.
One of the more subtle things that may be holding you back is your own preconceived ideas about what exactly you want to be doing. Perhaps you are a nurse and want to work on a hospital unit, maybe even a particular floor. By only looking for and applying to these kinds of jobs, you may be missing other areas that you could be enjoying. You will have the rest of your career to settle into a “dream job,” but may not necessarily start there. If you are having difficulty finding work in a specific place, consider broadening your search. Down the road, if a position is available in your desired area, you will now have gained valuable experience while you waited, making you more likely to land that dream job when it appears.
Overall, try not to get discouraged in your search. Many newly graduated professionals struggle to find employment in the beginning and eventually go on to have very satisfying careers. Don’t be afraid to branch out of your comfort zone with your applications and networking, spruce up that resume, and change your perspective. There are countless opportunities out there, and the right tools can help you find the best one for you.
A recent survey by the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment outlines the level of work and satisfaction recruitment professionals are reporting in the healthcare industry. This sampling may represent a window into how your physician recruiters see their role in the institution, their value, and the pressures and rewards their work...
A recent survey by the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) conducted in the fall of 2019 outlines the level of work and satisfaction recruitment professionals are reporting in the healthcare industry. The small sampling, less than 300 respondents, may represent a window into how your physician recruiters see their role in the institution, their value, and the pressures and rewards their work provides.
Their Physician Recruitment Workplace Satisfaction Survey polled recruitment professionals from a variety of facilities. More than half the respondents overall reported their role was part of a multi-hospital/integrated health delivery system. On average, they have worked three to five years with their current institution and with 10 years in the recruitment field. These workers average 47 to 50-hour workweeks and report they typically work with two other institutional recruiters and one staff member in their department.
The majority of recruiters, 74%, report they are somewhat to completely satisfied with their current position/role, but another 18% report being somewhat to not at all satisfied. Overall, 60% of respondents revealed they feel a sense of accomplishment from their work.
Detailed information may reveal where physician recruiters are finding satisfaction on the job and where they may feel a disconnect. When asked if they feel they’re sufficiently involved in decisions that affect their work, only 37% strongly agree; 42% somewhat agree, with 20% neutral or disagreeing with the statement.
When asked, “Does your company recognize you for the work you do?”, only 34% strongly agreed, 28% somewhat, and 28% were neutral or disagreed. When asked if they felt valued by their organization, 37% strongly agreed; 37% somewhat agreed and 26% reported they were neutral or disagree.
When asked if their department encourages feedback and makes improvements based on it, 41% strongly agree, 35% somewhat, and 24% were neutral or disagreed. These numbers may represent where your institution is getting it right, and where they may be missing the mark.
The data digs deeper, asking recruiters to rank what impacts their job satisfaction. Topping the list was personal fulfillment, followed by being involved in the decision-making process. The third and forth rated impactful areas were being valued by their organization and being recognized for their work. In a list of 15 items, compensation, surprisingly ranked number 13 in the ratings.
For most recruiters, staffing level is key to meeting demand. With more recruiters to lighten the load, hiring metrics can be more successful, but a significant portion of those surveyed report they need more help.
Overall, 35% of respondents believe they could use more recruiters on staff. By provider size, the need increases: 26% at the smallest facilities are looking for assistance; 40% at mid-size facilities, and 44% at the largest healthcare providers. When it comes to support staff, more also is needed according to the data: 48% at small providers, 55% at mid-sized and 57% at the largest providers surveyed admit they could use additional support staff.
A majority of respondents, 66%, revealed no opportunity for advancement within their department. This could be a factor in determining whether your recruitment professionals will be retained.
When making their own long-range career plans, 41% report they plan to leave their current organization; 16% of them plan a role change, while 25% will remain in the recruitment field. Of the 59% who plan to stay with their organization, 38% expect to be in the same role in 3 years, 13% expect to be promoted within the department, and 17% expect promotion outside the recruitment function.
Stress levels can result in lower morale and productivity as well as produce churn. The study found the majority of recruitment professionals report stress on the job. Twenty-six percent call their stress level very high, with 49% at somewhat high. Only 15% say their stress is neutral, 10% low or very low.
The biggest challenges physician recruitment professionals face, by ranking:
Recruitment professionals from the largest organizations report they feel understaffed, more stressed and have less of a work/life balance. Managers agree, with management level recruitment professionals reporting they, too, want more staff.
For institutions of every size, the recruitment team is critically important to maintaining staffing levels. The data in the AAPPR report suggests that while physician recruiters are overall satisfied with their role and facility, 4 in 10 recruiters plan to leave their organization in the next three years. Healthcare providers must work hard to retain these professionals. Smart facilities look to provide the most support for their recruitment teams; the result can mean better hires and retention.
Ultimately, the factors that you’ll consider as your look for your first job are personal and largely depend on what you value.... In the final analysis, the most important thing to consider is your happiness, because as an early career attending, you will likely be working long hours, and you want to ensure that you enjoy the environment and the people with whom you’ve chosen to surround...
While you’re still approaching it, the end of residency feels like the culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. It feels like finally, you’re at the end of the tunnel and you can relax. The reality, though, is that the end of residency marks a transition, just like several transitions we’ve already gone through as seasoned medical professionals – from high school student to undergraduate, undergraduate to medical student, medical student to resident, and then resident to attending. Just like the transitions that have preceded it, it’s important to be an informed participant in this next stage of your career, finding your first position as an attending. Several previous articles have addressed the need to carefully examine contracts, know your worth to the health system, and approach the process with eyes wide open. Because of this, I’ll focus on what aspects of positions I, as a neurosurgery resident, will be looking at when it comes time to find my first attending position.
The norm when most of my mentors were training was for surgeons, and especially subspecialty surgeons to own their own private practices. This was purported to allow not only more autonomy for the surgeons who ran these practices free from hospital administrator oversight, but also the chance for a more lucrative income which was based solely on one’s individual productivity. In contrast to this setup, hospital employment of subspecialty surgeons, such as cardiothoracic surgeons and neurosurgeons is on the rise. I will personally be looking for a position with this type of employment set-up, because I believe it will allow me to focus more on delivering healthcare to my patients rather than the nuts and bolts of running a private practice. While the compensation may be less than I could earn independently, I and a number of my peers, place a premium on being able to focus on operating and taking care of patients rather than the small business aspects of managing a practice.
At every step in the way of my medical education, it was hammered into me that medicine is a team sport. This is true in almost every aspect of patient care and in the development of a young surgeon. One of the most important factors in my choosing neurosurgery and in my progression as a surgeon has been the encouragement and teaching of mentors. Mentors help to guide your progress and support your career from an early stage. No matter what type of practice you choose, finding an environment where the more senior surgeons embrace their role as mentor is key. The culmination of residency does not mark the creation of an expert physician, but rather a safe physician. Finding mentors as a junior attending is an important part of continuing your development towards becoming an excellent physician or surgeon.
This aspect is even more crucial for someone seeking employment over private practice. In private practice, the more senior physicians have a vested interest in your success and increased productivity – it improves their income as well. In an employment environment, there may be no external motivator for a senior physician to mentor you, and there may even be disincentive – they’re not able to complete as many cases or see as many patients if they’re spending a significant amount of time on teaching or double-scrubbing cases to help teach. Because of these factors, finding an environment that promotes mentorship and continued learning is probably the single most important factor I will be considering when evaluating positions.
This aspect is trickier than the others, as there’s no one metric I will be assessing. Some of the commonly cited aspects new neurosurgeons should consider are the hospital’s commitment to buying new technologies, provisions for block operating time, and dedicated time and support for continuing medical education. These, in and of themselves, seem relatively small, but numerous more senior attendings have reiterated to me the importance of the details when it comes to quality of life. Evidence of your future employer’s investment in you may be different depending on your specialty and may be more focused on frequency of call or willingness to provide advanced practice practitioners or medical scribes. Whatever the evidence, it’s important to consider what details matter to you and bring them up when assessing each potential job prospect.
Ultimately, the factors that you’ll consider as your look for your first job are personal and largely depend on what you value. For me, as a neurosurgery resident, I value continued mentorship as well as being able to focus on operating as much as possible. In addition, I want to join a healthcare system that values my contributions and is willing to work with me to make investments that I consider important in my work environment. You should discuss the process with junior attendings you may know or recent residency graduates to find out what their experiences were and what you should be considering when it’s your turn to find a position. In the final analysis, the most important thing to consider is your happiness, because as an early career attending, you will likely be working long hours, and you want to ensure that you enjoy the environment and the people with whom you’ve chosen to surround yourself.
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