Resident Physician Recruiter (2 RULES to Follow)

Should a resident use a resident physician recruiter when finding their first job out of training?

Avenues for a Physician Jobs Search

When you are out of training, there are many different avenues to find employment. And the physician recruiter avenue can be promising if you find the right recruiter. Before we get into the details of using physician recruiters, let’s talk about the other ways of finding jobs quickly.

Contact Medical Organizations

The best way to find jobs is to contact organizations directly and proactively. If you know where you want to live and your specialty, you can identify practices in that area and contact them directly with your resume and cover letter. Maybe they’re looking for someone after three years; they may need somebody when you’re out of training.

Often, if the place you contact isn’t looking for somebody, they may know someone who is and can get you in contact with them. A good resource for contacting medical organizations directly is the American Medical Association’s physician database.

Job Fairs and Internet Search

The second is job fairs—every program has job fairs where organizations talk to residents or fellows. That’s one way of doing it. Talking to colleagues about open positions is another way—than an internet search. An internet search is only suitable for people looking for immediate jobs.

So, if you’re almost at the end of training and still need to find a job, an internet search is a good way of finding positions. But the timing usually lines up only if you’re two years from finishing training and looking at online positions. So, there are more successful ways of finding a job for most residents or fellows. The Association of American Medical Colleges’ job board is a great online resource.


Physician Recruiter

And then the last thing that we’ll discuss in detail today is using a physician recruiter.

A physician recruiter is a broker that lines up employers looking for a physician in a specific specialty and a physician in that specialty. And then they marry them together. Why would you use a recruiter? It saves you time. A recruiter’s job is to actively reach out to organizations, private practices, hospitals, and hospital networks, identify what jobs they’re looking for, and then source candidates. Once you land a job offer, you may need guidance on negotiating a physician employment contract.

Payment for a Recruitment

Now, the first thing to think about is costA resident or fellow should never pay a physician recruiter. The employer should be the one who foots the bill. How it usually works is that a recruiter finds a candidate, hook them up with the employer, and then the employer handles the recruitment process, the interviews, and all of that. For a list of pertinent interview questions to ask physician candidates, prepare in advance.

And if the employer decided to go with that employee, they would have to pay either a flat fee or sometimes a percentage of their first year’s compensation to the recruiter for establishing that relationship. There’s also a time associated with the payment to the recruiter. So it means they may get half upfront. They may get the other half after the physician has been there for one year. Sometimes longer, but for the most part, it’s one year because an organization wants to avoid paying a recruiting fee to a recruiter when a candidate has started a job and left after a few months.

Physician Recruiter in Your Geographic Area

Where to find the best recruiters? Just Google physician recruiter, and then I would do it geographically. There are national search firms and mom-and-pop recruiters, like solo recruiters, who generally look within a specific geographic area—two or three states around where they live.

Finding a recruiter based around the geographic area you’re looking for leads to the best outcomes. If you’re using a recruiter in California and trying to find a job in Florida, the person in California cannot establish the necessary relationships. With Covid and remote work and all of that type, it’s accelerated being able to work remotely. But even if you decide to go with someone, not in the geographic area, you need to ensure that their focus is the geographic area you’re working in.

Someone could reside in California, but their company focuses on Georgia, Florida, Alabama, or South Carolina. Whatever the states are in that region, you can’t establish enough positive relationships when working in 10 states simultaneously. You can’t do it. There are so many different hospitals, hospital networks, and private practices.


And finding a recruiter who works within your specialty is essential. A recruiter who does derm or primary care, or does general surgery, or at least focuses on that, can be much more beneficial than finding a recruiter who doesn’t have much experience in your specialty and doesn’t have many relationships established in that specialty.

Suppose you’re a general surgeon and find a recruiter in your geographic region and specialty. In that case, you’ll have many more opportunities because they will know the people who can potentially know other people looking for jobs—if that makes sense. Find someone who works in the area you want to work in, in the specialty you want to work in, and doesn’t make you foot the bill. So, that’s the best way of looking for a recruiter.

Find someone who works in the area and specialty you want to work in and doesn’t make you foot the bill.

A few companies will charge residents or fellows an amount to find them a job. Just avoid that. It would be best if you didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket. The employer is the one that needs to foot the bill. Employers use recruiters because they need help finding enough candidates. In desirable communities or cities, only a few organizations may use physician recruiters simply because they can find enough candidates without needing to pay a recruiter.

Taking Precautions for Physician Recruitment

But the communities where it’s tough to recruit to or, and this is more subjective, an undesirable location geographically. Those organizations utilize recruiters because sometimes they can’t do it themselves, mainly standalone hospitals. They may employ a physician recruiter, but that physician recruiter for the hospital may also contract with other physician recruiters to assist in casting a wider net. Usually, they may make you sign a recruitment agreement with the recruiter.

Typically, that’s not the case. The employer has to sign an agreement with the recruiter to secure the payment obligations amongst both parties. So, if someone makes you sign a contract with a recruiter, be cautious. It’s not common. It happens sometimes, but I suggest you look it over carefully before signing anything.

So, a resident or fellow should use a physician recruiter. Indeed, they can be beneficial, but you need to find the right person or organization.

How Physicians in Residency Can Look for a Job

The easiest way I’ve found is through colleagues. They’ll usually know of a recruiting place—if you’ve trained with somebody. Or maybe they joined a practice during their career. And they say it’s a great environment that we’re looking to add another physician in a specialty; perhaps you should look at it. 

It can vary wildly in location, and location is significant to some while less important to others. So, it can go all over the place if you get leads from fellow residents or fellows. One way is to talk to colleagues, mentors, or others you’ve met in training. And that’s also a great way of determining the market value at the time

The MGMA data is like an annual physician compensation survey across the nations broken up into geography, specialty, and physician-owned versus hospital-based physicians. In some specialties, the sample size is so tiny. I don’t think it’s a great tool. Other specialties can usually be a pretty good gauge if there are hundreds and hundreds of responses. I don’t think any physician should base a physician’s job search solely on compensation. I think that’s shortsighted. 

Anyone coming out of training needs to be in an environment where they can learn. Or they’ll have mentors with whom they’ll feel safe and have an opportunity to grow. 

I often see it, especially in rural environments, where they need a specialty. They’re willing to throw a bunch of cash at somebody. But they’ll be the only ones in their specialty out there. Like there’ll be no others, no one to learn from, train with, or pick someone’s brain, at least locally. Those scenarios are challenging. Some physicians can thrive in that environment, but it’s more complicated for others. So, I think they need to consider that. 

Any physician contract is going to have without-cause termination. If a physician is unhappy in their practice, they usually provide 60- or 90-day notice. And they can move on. Even if you’re in a job initially, you’re not stuck there forever. You can find something better. Many physicians coming from residency or fellowship will take their first medical job. And then they’d say, alright, now I know what I don’t want. So they can search for work more appropriate to the practice they’re looking for. 


Applying Through Recruiters

One of the tips is to start applying to physician recruiters; there are two types of them. 

You have in-house recruiters. Many extensive hospital networks employ physician recruiters who attend different residency programs. Maybe there’s a job fair, something like that. Or they’ll specifically reach out to people in training, saying, “hey, I have this opportunity in this place. Would you be interested?” They’re free to physicians. You do not have to pay the recruiter or anything. The employer is the one that pays the recruitment fees.

So, physician recruiters. Both in-house and those that are just private groups where you just go out and broker these deals. Typically, they would get a percentage of the first-year salary of the physician or maybe a flat fee—something like that. But there’s no harm in discussing positions with recruiters. It’s a usual way of doing business nowadays. They usually have their ear on the ground and know many different opportunities that could be exciting for physicians. 

Start Applying Online

Another way is if you have a specific region in mind. It’s just doing job searches for clinical practices in your specialty in a particular area. Most places will have job posts on regular job sites if they’re looking. Then you can search for those in the city you want, find that, and contact them from their work listing. That’s another way. 

So, those are the three most significant ways and tips to start your career. Word of mouth through colleagues, doing it through a physician recruiter, or searching in specific cities through job search websites. For those who are maybe J-1 or something like that, that’s an entirely different job search. And I can do a separate post about that. But this is more geared towards those looking for the normal position just coming out of training.


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