Resident Rules of the Road: Chapter 9 Summary: “Job Search”

Originally Published: AAEM’s Rules of the Road for Emergency Medicine Residents, 7th Ed. Chief Editors: Tom Scaletta, MD FAAEM; Michael Ybarra, MD FAAEM; Leana Wen, MD MSc. AAEM and AAEM/RSA. Milwaukee, WI. 2010.

Chapter Summary By: Aga De Castro, MPH, MA, MSIV Medical Student, Georgetown University School of Medicine

Summary Series Editors: Muhammad Alghanem, BS, and Andrew W Phillips, MD, MEd

Finding employment after residency can be a stressful period but maintaining an organized yet flexible approach can lead to finding that first job as an independent emergency physician. A few things to consider when going on the job hunt:

    1. State licensures can often take months to process. Starting up to a year ahead of your desired start date will allow you appropriate time.
    2. Know your priorities. Do you have a geographic area in mind? Or are you looking for opportunities only in academic centers?
    3. Finding a job is easy but finding the perfect job requires more time and effort. Invest the energy if you want your job out of residency to be the most ideal.
    4. Know your network. Often, the best job opportunities are not advertised and only known through the grapevine. People associated with your residency program such as the leadership and alumni can be helpful contacts for potential job opportunities.

      The EM job market has some unique and not-so-unique rules compared to the general employment market:

      1. Contacting the department chair is the most common first step. Email is an appropriate initial mode of communication. Send a copy of your curriculum vitae (CV) as well as a cover letter to get your foot in the door. Consider calling the department administration if you don’t hear back after a few weeks.
      2. Finding the perfect job may not necessarily be possible, especially in saturated job markets. Consider a part-time position at your desired institution or geographic area with the possibility of taking up a better opportunity when it presents itself.
      3. Turnover happens all the time. Be persistent in trying to gain entry into a particular institution or geographic area.
      4. Be skeptical of offers that are too good to be true. Perhaps that job that requires minimal weekend shifts also requires a month of overnight shifts. Or that high salary is likely negated by minimal health, life and pension benefits.
      5. Placement services may not necessarily serve your best interests. These firms serve to perform some of the legwork for those seeking jobs distant from their current location. Because they are paid a commission, these services may convince job applicants to take up positions in undesirable areas or have minimal benefits.

      Once you have interviews set up for prospective job opportunities, keep a few things in mind to be successful:

      1. First impressions are key. Show the department that you are a good fit for them. Dress the part. Research the institution.
      2. Like residency interviews, this is an opportunity for you to also see if the institution is a good fit for you. Prepare a list of questions to be engaged throughout interview day. Consider requesting a copy of the staff’s schedule for the past few months to gauge the scheduling system. Do newer staff members have equal footing for more desirable shifts, or are they relegated only to weekend and overnight shifts?
      3. Keep note of people you meet during your interview. This will be helpful when sending out your thank you notes at the end of the day.

      Before you know it, you will be offered a job. Congratulations! Your hard work and dedication has led to this point in your professional career. Be happy; be proud; yet, be humble. You made it!