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Journal of ASPR - Spring 2013 - Helping candidates ask the right questions
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Helping candidates ask the right questions

Adapted from PracticeLink Magazine (“Site Visit Savvy”),,, (800) 776-8383

Job seeking can be a lot like dating. There’s the talking and emailing to get a feel for personalities. There’s the Google search to dig around a little more. There’s the goal of learning if you’re going to work well together, help each other and be in each other’s lives.

After all, a physician can work just about anywhere—they’re trying to decide if they can live there, too.

“In all of the studies we’ve seen, within the first three years out of residency and fellowship training, physicians are three times more likely to change jobs than they are beyond that period,” said Angela Abraham, executive director of physician recruitment at Mercy Clinic in Springfield, MO. “It’s because they’ve figured out what they like and don’t like and what they want. The first job, a lot of times, that’s not it.”

When physicians are trying to decide where to live and work, they often ask us the questions that they should ask during an interview or site visit. You too, might find yourself coaching residents through their first practice search. “A lot of times, people leave after their second year because they didn’t ask the right questions or listen to the answers,” said Kay Wysong, an in-house physician recruiter with Methodist Health System in Dallas. “They just heard what they wanted to hear.”

It’s not uncommon for physician candidates to show up unprepared and uncertain about what they’re really looking for, said Abraham, “Sometimes they simply show up and begin the interview and then realize what they need to be asking. They may not know what they want yet because they haven’t thought about it until they’re forced for six to eight hours to think about it because we are with them nonstop. If they can give it some thought ahead of time, it would behoove them.”

As you speak to residents and fellows about their job search, you might suggest they ask a potential practice the following questions. Download and share the list of questions at

  • What sort of staffing support will I have, such as nursing, billing, transcription and marketing?
  • Do you have an EHR?
  • What is your payer mix?
  • Do any of your physicians have flexible schedules to account for outside endeavors or family commitments?
  • Will I have any inpatient responsibilities? If so, how are my office patient responsibilities managed during that time?
  • Will I be a consultant physician or have admitting privileges?
  • How often will I take evening and weekend call, and what is the usual volume of calls?
  • Are there evening or weekend office hours?
  • What is your compensation plan based on (work units, reimbursement, straight salary), and for how long is my salary guaranteed?
  • Is there a path to partnership?
  • What are the benefits, including retirement? How long until I am fully vested for retirement?
  • What type of governance structure do you have, and how do physicians fit in the structure?
  • Is there a succession plan in place for new physicians?
  • Will my clinical responsibilities include traveling to other facilities (such as satellite offices or nursing homes), and how far or how often?
  • What kind of orientation, support and mentoring do you have in place for new physicians?
  • How are new physician schedules altered to gradually help them acclimate to the practice and EHR?
  • What is the current real estate market like in the community?
  • Does the community offer access to my family’s educational and extracurricular needs?
Journal of ASPR - Spring 2013

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