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Career Source: Got Docs?

Katz, Barbara

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000389829.94350.ab
Career Source


Now that there are more jobs for emergency physicians than ever before, the market has really changed. Instead of physicians seeking assistance in landing a position, employers are the ones who need help finding candidates. With as many as five jobs for every physician on the market, how does an employer attract doctors hire?

Employers must first ascertain where their opportunity ranks within the specialty and in their geographic area. After all, if the ED across town is paying considerably more with a similar practice profile, it will be difficult to get the cream of the crop. This is a supply-and-demand market, and good emergency physicians are in short supply. How do employers determine where they sit in the area rankings? Browse through the job listings on and the American College of Emergency Physicians' EM Career Central ( Not all listings include compensation details, but a number of them do.

The lack of details in most of the job listings is shocking, but it's a start. Consider joining the state chapters of ACEP or the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, and call competitors. They may not be inclined to share information, but they might be in the same boat and willing to talk. Until employers determine what is being offered around the country, they are not really prepared to post a job, much less start interviewing. Important facts to know:

  • National, state, and local compensation rates based on similar practice criteria.
  • What graduating residents are looking for beyond hourly salary.
  • Characteristics of graduating residents and young physician job seeker.
  • The physician-candidate buzzwords for this season.
  • Who the competition is and what they have to offer.
  • How your opportunity differs from others in your area.
  • What you can provide to retain a top physician over the long term.

If research results show your opportunity is lagging behind others in compensation or practice elements, it's time for an upgrade. Data are key. Most hospital administrators have no concept of what emergency physicians are earning and where their ED fits into the equation. Most have finally accepted the importance of a top-tier ED but still lack the information to achieve it. It's amazing how quickly they respond to their failure to keep up with the Joneses. Long-established groups have a different problem. Many are reluctant to alter the incoming package because it is where all their physicians started. They need to understand that a good deal in 1999 doesn't work in 2010. Restructuring attracts new talent while keeping the current crew happy.

An employer looking for graduating residents must understand what young physicians want. I'll be reporting in detail on these millennial workers in future columns, but it's important to remember these facts about new graduates:

  • They grew up in the age of technology, and have worked with computers from an early age.
  • They are highly adept at communicating via devices.
  • These physicians have different values from their older colleagues. Time off is as important, if not more so, than time on the job.
  • These physicians have higher loan debt than their predecessors, and ridding themselves of that debt is a primary concern.

Tell a grad your department is not computerized, and you will feel the interest fade in seconds. On the flip side, be prepared to work with a grad on his interpersonal skills, which may be somewhat lacking.

Most boarded, experienced physicians on the market are in that position because of their dissatisfaction with their current employer or with their lifestyle and location. Find out the candidate's motivation before going to considerable expense of bringing a candidate in for an interview. Even more important than establishing motivation is calculating the sincerity behind the job search. Is the candidate a serious job hunter, or is he window-shopping? Some physicians test the waters every few years to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. These types rarely make moves, and when they do, they repeat the activity on a regular basis. The last thing you want to hear in response to an offer is, “We've decided not to make a move at this time.” Gauge level of intent with these pointed questions:

  • Have you put your house on the market?
  • Have you started the licensing process for this state?
  • If we make an offer that fulfills your search criteria, how long will you need to make a decision?
  • What are your ties to this area? Why do you want to live here?
  • What are your long-terms practice goals?

The true catalyst for a job search is often a spouse or the physician's family. It is not unusual for a candidate to love his job but be pressured by a spouse who wants to move. This is a legitimate reason for a job search, and can be a key element in securing the services of that physician. Just find out what the spouse is lacking in the current situation, and make sure your opportunity can fill that void. When it comes time to conduct a site interview, make certain that spouse receives as much attention as the physician.

On the candidate side of this equation, it is important to determine what works at the current position and at the very least be able to duplicate the positives, if not improving on them as a whole. When physicians take a job lacking in professional satisfaction just to make a spouse happy, eventually that dissatisfaction will seep into their personal lives, resulting in unhappy couples and less productive employees or partners. The goal here is to satisfy both, and while it can be somewhat more difficult, the results are worth it.

In a market like this one, dangling pretty bananas isn't the answer to successful hires. Recent graduates and even experienced physicians may be attracted to high sign-on bonuses and other initial perks, but eventually all they are left with is the job. If that job doesn't satisfy, they'll be searching again before completing their first year. The key to a great hire is knowledge. Know the job market, know the competition, and know the candidate. Apply that knowledge to the entire hiring process to increase the chance of making a timely and successful hire.

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Ms. Katz

Ms. Katz

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