Ashley Lipman 9m 2,140 #credentials
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Strengthening Your Credentials
Getting started in a medical career is, in many respects, a slow, arduous process. From educational preparation to initial training and internships, to landing your first job as a physician, it takes hard work, diligence, and a deep-seated passion for helping hurting people to even embark on a career in medicine.
And once embarked, you then need to constantly take steps to gain referrals, boost your credentials, and open up the door to new and exciting pathways just ahead.
You can’t sit around hoping someone will see your glass as half full versus empty, but you have to ensure it is abundantly full so that prospective new employers will have no doubts about you.
Here are 5 tips to help you strengthen your credentials and open up new opportunities for yourself in a medical career:
1. Use a Quality Physician’s Job Search Site
Learn to make the most of all the top medical job search sites have to offer. Discover Hospital Recruiting to get help in making out a “perfect” resume, gain immediate access to thousands of serious job offers across all medical fields nationwide, and to search by state, region, specialty, and more.
And you can be emailed job opening alerts based on your chosen search scheme to automate the process as much as possible. That’s a huge plus for those with busy schedules!
Get familiar with what employers out there are specifically looking for in terms of resumes, skills, education, and personal communication. Use that information to guide you as you work to improve, even as you present yourself in the best possible light on your current resume.
Here are 5 tips to use when searching for a new medical job online:
- Don’t take an ill-fit position that you aren’t likely to stay at for more than a couple years. That’s exactly what the majority of medical graduates do, and they don’t stay over 2 years on average. That doesn’t look good on your resume down the road: one year here, two years there, and none of it in your specialty area.
- Broaden your search geographically rather than be forced to broaden it too much as to practice area. You have to be willing to relocate anywhere in the US if you want the best possible selection of openings and the highest possible chances of getting hired. It’s true that many employers prefer candidates with “roots in the area” because they think it will yield higher doctor retention rates; so stay as close to home as possible, but be willing to go
- Take a personality test to help you decide on what kind of situation you’re the best fit for: large or small institution, direct hire or subcontract, team-focused or more independent work, constant, random hours or more of a life-work balance. The DISC test and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are excellent such personality tests you can easily look up and take online.
- Begin your search 12 to 18 months before you would like to begin your new job. Starting the search late can severely limit your options and lead to a rush-decision made more out of necessity than preference. Plus, if you move out of state, it can take up to 9 months sometimes to get an in-state medical license. So you have to start early.
- Don’t just gravitate toward the big cities. Another mistake many make is focusing on big cities and the Northeast. Those are the very areas with the highest concentrations of physicians and, often, the lowest compensation rates. In smaller population centers, you gain more of a negotiation advantage, have less competition for the job sought, and can likely receive better compensation.
Thus, there is more to finding and getting hired into your “medical dream job” than just running local searches and having a great resume. To truly do well, you have to “search smart” and try to think from the employer’s perspective. And it’s far better to take a little longer to find the right job than to settle for something less and then leave it only a few years later.
2. Learn How to “Interview Well”
There’s more to getting hired at your new “dream job” than just having an impressive resume on paper. Without people skills, many won’t even seriously consider you.
Listen to his doctor talk about how he decides which interview candidates to hire. He wants someone honest about gaps in their training, who knows his/her professional goals and is passionate about them, and who displays empathy and good communication skills.
Add that to your “credentials,” along with great, positive personal references, and it’s a huge help.
But going into more depth, here are 5 of the toughest interview questions healthcare worker applicants are likely to hear:
- Why did you choose your particular medical sector as your new profession? These kind of motivational questions can be tough to answer both because they are open-ended and because they are rather personal. Giving a short anecdotal story can often make it easier to explain what drives you. Or, you could explain how a particular area simply fascinates you – like an eye doctor candidate telling how amazed he is at the powers of human sight. This is not the time to talk about money or to use humor: who them your passion for your desired practice.
- Why should we hire you for this position? You don’t want to answer this question in a way that seems arrogant, but at the same time, you have to “be helpful to the employer” by differentiating yourself from other candidates. It’s often best to give a list of 3 or 4 one-sentence reasons why you would be a good fit for the particular job. These must be specific connection points, not vague generalities.
- Describe how you handled a past conflict with a coworker? Employers realize that conflicts are inevitable in high-stakes, high-stress medical situations, and they’re much more likely to be impressed that you know how to successfully resolve conflicts than that you “never had one.” Explain how you navigated a potential problem and avoided it, but don’t vilify the person with whom you had the conflict in the process of making yourself seem “the hero.”
- What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your past career? No one likes to talk about past failures, but you’re likely to hear a question like this because the interviewer wants to know three things: you don’t pretend you never made a mistake, you found a way to handle it, and you came away having learned something positive from it.
- What do you see in your future career? This is the time to let your prospective employer know you are on top of current trends in healthcare, that you have a well thought out plan and high aspirations, and that you would stay with them for at least a reasonable number of years before potentially moving on to something else.
Medical job interviews tend to be among the toughest in the whole job market, and chances are, you won’t get a lot of “softball questions.” It’s best to hone your personal skills and practice answers to the sorts of questions you’ll likely hear long before entering the interview room.
3. Learn to Pursue Referrals and Manage Client Relationships
Gaining good referrals is a huge part of landing a new physician’s job and of growing in your current, perhaps independent, practice. Both “peer reviews” and customer reviews are important here. If you are judged worthy by both other professionals and by your patients, most prospective new employers won’t want to argue with that diagnosis.
Here are three key ways to boost both quality referrals and customer satisfaction rates:
Networking With Area Physician Groups
It’s easy to get bogged down in a routine and never get out of the office except to sleep or for an occasional meal out for months on end. And if you have enough patient flow to keep that busy, you may think you don’t need to bolster referrals, but the stream could wane just around the corner if you don’t do something to keep it strong.
It’s wise to take a whole day once every 3 months or so to promote your practice at area physician’s groups, where doctors and others exchange referrals. Take time to interact and explain what your practice is all about, and then leave your contact information and business cards behind.
Also, if possible, join an ACO health network, attend annual events at local hospitals meant to foster doctor-hospital relationships, and take time to reach out to other providers that are likely sources of referrals.
Following Up With Patients & Networking Partners
Always give patients or their families (at an appropriate time) your card and say something like, “If you have been 100% satisfied with the service and care you have received, feel free to recommend us to others!” You can follow up with emails or direct mail as well. But don’t overdo it and come across as too “salesy”
Also follow up with networking partners and ask if they are pleased with the way your referrals relationship is progressing – and don’t forget to say “Thank you.” And also follow up with both patients referred in and referred out to ensure patient satisfaction is high in all referral cases.
Investing in Up to Date Referral/CRM Software
If you already have a practice, or are looking to found one soon, invest in top-tier referral management/CRM software, like Referral MD. You won’t regret it.
These kinds of tools help you improve patient satisfaction and boost and make the most of referrals, which helps your practice grow. It assists you lower appointment wait times, follow through on faxed referrals, reduce “patient leakage,” and even avoid malpractice suits stemming from delayed or missed diagnoses.
4. Pursue Continuing Education
One of the best ways to improve your credentials as a physician is to engage continually in some form of continuing education.
Not only does this improve your knowledge base and allow you to add new services and eventually enter a new, higher level practice if you desire. But it also shows both patients and prospective new employers down the road that you are up to date on new developments in the medical world and are always learning and growing.
Plus, you have to periodically renew your board certification in many medical fields, and it will require continuing education to pass new tests that incorporate new developments in your field.
Continuing education allows you to expand your treatment options at your current practice and enables you to better care for your patients.
Many medical workers may find it difficult to make time for continuing education classes, but since you can often take them online, on days off, or after hours, there really is no excuse for not doing it.
5. Pay Attention to “Reputation Management”
In one sense, you manage your reputation simply by creating it through positive interactions with and care/service to your patients. Following up with patients and asking for feedback also helps immensely.
But here, we want to address primarily how to manage your “online reputation.” Like it or not, over 80% of patients will check your practice out online before seeing you (or not seeing you.)
You should always ask patients who’ve had a positive experience to leave a review online at a specific site or on your practice’s website. To many patients, overwhelmingly positive reviews from past patients is the number one credential they are looking for, so maximize positive reviews, read them, and respond to them.
Also, read and respond to negative reviews online. But don’t get into an argument and don’t violate patient-doctor confidentiality laws. Leave a note saying the patient should contact you to get the issue resolved or simply that you’re sorry they had a bad experience.
Finally, consider investing in reputation management software that helps you properly respond to and counteract negative reviews and counteract them as to search engine results.
When seeking to start a new career in medicine or make a major career shift, you need to take specific steps to bolster your worthiness in the eyes of prospective employers. And if you have your own private practice, the right credentials are essential for your practice to experience steady growth.
Learning how to get the most out of online medical job search sites, how to “interview well,” maintain a steady patient flow through referrals, open up new career paths via continuing educational pursuits, and manage your online (and offline) reputation are 5 key ways to bolster your medical “credentials” and strengthen your prospects of a long, fruitful career.