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Physicians: Consider Offering Extra On-Call Coverage to Hospitals

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In our last two blog posts, we encouraged you to determine before a job interview how long you plan on staying in a particular position and/or when you plan to retire, mainly because hospitals are concerned about their return on investment in a new physician. Resigning or retiring a few years after being hired doesn’t give them that return on investment, since they tend to lose $250,000 to $800,000 upfront (depending on the specialty) while waiting for the physician to get their practice up and running.

It would be easy to conclude from this that hospitals are all about money. But ultimately, that’s not a fair conclusion. Yes, they need to clear a profit, they have to focus on their bottom line, and they are a business. In order to keep the doors open, people employed, and patients cared for, money has to, of course, play into their hiring decisions.

But there’s another factor that shouldn’t be ignored: on-call coverage.

On-call coverage is the name of the game, and many hospitals struggle with getting coverage.

In fact, on-call coverage can be one of the biggest motivating factors for recruiting a new physician in the first place.

For this reason, it’s in your best interest to be vocal during the job interview about your willingness to put in extra hours and to give the hospital more work than they would normally expect.

You will find that your willingness to work with a hospital to maximize their on-call coverage might make you more desirable than a better-qualified candidate for the same position.

Many business-savvy physicians know that one of the best ways to build a practice is by offering hospitals coverage. And as you’re competing for a position, your desire to give them additional coverage should not be understated.


Take yourself into consideration as you’re making this bid. You want to examine the payer mix to ensure it is attractive and/or you want to make sure that you are compensated for the coverage.

As always, a hospital’s payer mix and policy on paying for coverage will be two more clues as to whether or not this position is for you.

As physicians looking for jobs, how much on-call coverage are you willing to give an organization? What are your standards for providing that coverage?

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