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Physicians and APs: Ask about an Organization’s Challenges

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Here’s one factor that physicians and advanced practitioners should be on the lookout for while on a job interview, courtesy of Phyllis Maguire of Today’s Hospitalist: The challenges an organization is facing.

In fact, ask this question of the interviewer: What would you change about your program?

Yes, Dr. Viviane Alfandary, a John Muir Medical Group hospitalist, said, this is a question that should be asked by the interviewee.

Maguire writes that Dr. Alfandary “appreciates when candidates ask her and her colleagues what they'd change about their own program.”

But beyond gaining their appreciation for your inquiring mind, you want to find out how upfront they’ll be, since no program is perfect.

Hospitalist Maria Hoertz, DO, MPH, told Maguire that “[s]he's accepted jobs, for instance, in which she was assured that call was only one weekend in eight. But once she actually started and realized all the responsibilities the hospitalists had to share, weekend call was more like three in eight.”

She gives the following advice to job candidates: “Ask to see the last year's worth of call schedules so you can truly understand it. The call schedule can make or break your life in a community.”

Also, the interviewer(s) may tell you that you’re “eligible” for a loan repayment package, Dr. Hoertz said. But make sure it “is actually available… And pay very close attention to the amount of time you’d have to commit to working in exchange for loan repayment.”

When Dr. Hoertz is interested in a job, she told Maguire that she’ll hang around for an extra day, requesting an opportunity “to shadow one of the hospitalists during the day or night, depending on which shift she's interviewing for. Shadowing a colleague and seeing the frustrations she or he may have lets you know what you're really dealing with.”

“Programs will tell you, 'We have full specialist coverage,’” she said. “But when you're with a doctor who's trying to get a GI doc in for a consult and you hear someone say, ‘Good luck with that!,’ you know what's really going on. Those are the kind of comments that never come up in an interview.”

As physicians and advanced practitioners who are looking for jobs, have you ever held a position in which certain challenges arose that were not mentioned during the interview? How would these challenges have affected your decision to accept the position if they had been known about in advance?

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