We all look forward to the day we can finish training and finally become attendings. For me, that day crept up faster than I was ready for. In the midst of a pandemic, not only was I juggling clinical responsibilities, I also had to figure out how to find “my perfect” first job. I tried a number of different strategies but here is what I learned from the process.
- Attending job searches is NOT the same as residency or fellowship positions. For many of us, we filled out an application and started clicking away on any and all programs that we thought would help us become physicians. We then interviewed all of the US in hopes a computer algorithm will match us to our first-choice program. This isn’t the approach I took for attending jobs. I only spoke to places I had an interest in working and felt would be a great fit for my first job. It’s important for us to shift away from thinking of a residency/fellowship position as the process is not the same and requires a different approach.
- What is my dream job? And more importantly, write it down! One of the most important things I learned is I need to have a clear vision of what type of job I am looking for. Specifically, I first had to decide if I want to work in an academic environment vs community setting vs private practice vs locum, etc etc. This was the key step to focus my target search. More importantly, employers will ask asked me “what are you looking to do?” By having a concrete answer, the process was much more smooth and fruitful.
Other things to consider are how much inpatient time I’d like to do, how to develop an outpatient clinic, and opportunities to be involved in trainee education. For those
who are wanting to do research, is having protected time important and if so, how much time would you
want. By having this road map of your “dream job” before talking to employers will show you are prepared and have done adequate research for your first attending job. It will be up to the employers to then help your roadmap become a reality.
Career development is important for all of us and working for a practice that will support our career goals is important. Having an idea of your 5-year (or 10-year) plan to discuss with an employer will help you gage if the employer can help you grow and develop to achieve those goals.
Utilize your network. There was a point when I was getting nowhere with my job search. Emails were going unanswered, no new jobs had been posted at places I was interested, and everything felt very grim. I then spoke to my program director who was able to help me get in touch with former fellows (and now attendings) at different programs to see if they have something that would suit my dream job.
I also spoke to several of my co-fellows which turned into all of us sharing where we have interviewed or places we think the other may find as a good fit. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re in this position – you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain! Reaching out to mentors is also important as they may have leads on jobs you may not have considered before.
Although this conversation can be extensive and this is not an exhaustive list, I’ll end with this: we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to find the perfect job right out of training. However, the first job doesn’t need to be the last job. You can always look for a better fit – but DO NOT burn any bridges with your current employer!
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Barinder Hansra, known as “Ricky” to his friends and family, is a physician-scientist-teacher living his best life at University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, MA. His focus is on cardiac critical care and cardio-obstetrics, and is headed to Stanford University for another fellowship. Follow on Twitter: @rickyhansra