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Life After Residency: Tips for Making Your First Job Your Forever Career

At this point of your training, you may hear that your first attending job will unlikely be the one you stay with for the rest of your career. People will suggest that you consider your first position out of residency as more of a “stepping stone” position you should use to better yourself for your next move.

However, this advice can be detrimental to new professionals, considering that if you do find the right position, you could find yourself staying at the same organization for your entire career. What is the difference between these two approaches to navigating your career goals? The mindset you have when you start your job search. 

If you pause to think about what you want in your career and consider where you want to be in the next five years, you could very likely make your first job search your last. 

In this post, we’ll cover a few ideas for vetting potential organizations and companies to evaluate what they have to offer in terms of professional development. Though much of the advice offered here is geared mainly towards physicians, it can also be helpful to nurses, PAs, NPs, and other health workers. 

Finding Your Place

When looking for your first job, pay special attention to where you want to live. While the amount of compensation should be a factor, choosing a place that works for you and your family is critical if you plan to stay long-term. 

Perhaps even more important than location, ensure that you find a work setting where your opinions are respected, and your voice is heard. Having a voice and being part of some day-to-day or decision-making processes will make it easier to develop healthy work relationships that nurture your career. 

After you’ve completed the first year and like what you see, you can start to apply for other positions, such as an assistant medical director, to see what the process is like and determine whether you would be in consideration. 

Be sure to also leave room for personal growth and development throughout your journey, as you never know where your career may take you.

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 Finding the Right Fit

Sometimes you might have to take a step down to get your foot in the door at the ideal employer. If you think of your first job as a long-term investment into your future, this strategy could pay off. The following are some of the things you should think about when seeking employment options:

Leadership opportunities

Some of the most successful leadership positions for a large healthcare center are cultivated from within through traditional growth opportunities. If you are interested in fast-tracking your career into a leadership role, seek a lower-level opportunity with an experienced team willing to mentor you.

Understanding the obstacles you encounter and having a solid mentor can help you seize opportunities when they become available. You will better understand industry trends in healthcare reform and be better placed for future leadership roles. 

Chances to make an impact

Are there accomplishments that some of the new personnel of the practice have made that you feel proud of? How does the organization help new employees develop themselves? These questions should help understand how the organization values new talent and where you could fit in. It’s important to stay diligent and not be blinded by other things if the organization doesn’t align with your values.

Patient experience

Organizations in healthcare that prioritize patients typically have the best opportunities. This is why we all choose to work in the healthcare field. Finding out more about the patient experience is a great way to vet an employment prospect. For example, What are the most common compliments and complaints from patients? What do you think the organization or hospital is most proud of in their services to patients? 

Your Schedule 

It could be awkward to ask about the pay, benefits, and scheduling as a new employee. However, while these shouldn’t be the first things you ask about in an interview, they should be among your vital considerations and are entirely appropriate for suggesting. You can learn a lot about your future position in the company by asking how they structure their scheduling. By asking a few careful questions and gauging their response, you should understand how they treat their employees. 

Think long-term

While you analyze your work options, remember to account for the whole package and potential for advancement. With this in mind, your first job could blossom into a satisfying and rewarding long-term career with the same organization. 

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