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Lives of Doctor Wives: The Job Hunt

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Job Hunt

 The ultimate goal that so many of us have worked so hard for for so many years next to our husbands. It can work out exactly as you had planned or hoped or it can go all kinds of crazy directions with so many unknowns. I think the latter is more likely these days.

Every specialty is different, private practice is different then academics, etc but this is our story. 

My husband was a resident in a very small, competitive, surgical sub-specialty in one of the top programs in the country. Two years of research were built into his program and he loved to teach so all along he was pretty sure he wanted to do academics. He is not a PhD so a lab of his own was not his goal but he did want to keep a hand in the research he had started during his research years. He wrote a few papers (probably not enough) and presented a few posters, he went to a conference every year or so and we both thought he had networked well. With the help of his mentor and chairman at his residency he landed a great fellowship and we moved for fellowship knowing that the job hunt needed to start soon. 

His fellowship mentor was great, very well connected and interested in the fact that his fellows got good jobs where they wanted doing what they wanted. This was key because his residency chairman and mentor were not any help in looking for “the job.” We were both very discouraged by this as well as the fact that there seemed to be so few jobs in his sub-specialty for the year he was finishing. Because there are so few in his area we learned that graduates tend to stay at their residency or fellowship institution and that was not an option for him at either location.

A few months into fellowship he got a call from a practice in his hometown. We had lived out of state ever since the beginning of medical school and because the one academic program in his hometown had been through a lot of turmoil we had been very honest with our family and friends that we didn’t think we would ever be back. When my husband got this call he was pessimistic that a private practice job is what he wanted, he has very little business sense and was not interested in the politics of a practice. His mentor told him, “don’t close a door until you know what is behind it” and I agreed so he agreed to at least go on the interview and see what they had to offer. In the mean time he was applying for every academic job he heard of but most were filled internally or the job was pulled because they decided they needed a different sub-specialty instead of his, of course we would find this all out later not at the time of application.

At this time he also started working with a well known and well respected recruiter in his specialty. Working with a recruiter was not of interest to either one of us because so many do not understand his specialty and his sub-specialty within it. However this recruiter is married to a physician in the field and is well respected by both the candidates and the hospitals/practices because of her knowledge. I watched their site religiously and when a job popped up that I thought was interesting I’d bring it to my husband’s attention, like many other things he just didn’t have time to monitor it. His hometown has a very unique identifier that recruiters tend to use, someone who isn’t from there wouldn’t know where it was but we always laughed when we saw a post with that description because we knew which city it was. 

A month or so after the first call from his hometown a job popped up on the recruiter site that was also in his hometown, I sent it to him and he inquired about it. They were looking for an experienced surgeon, someone to lead a new group, not someone straight out of training so we wrote it off and moved on. A few weeks later another posting showed up that looked to be from the same hospital but it was not looking for a leader role and this time they called my husband the day it was posted, I didn’t even have a chance to send it to him. This job was more interesting to him because the hospital had decided to employ their surgeons directly instead of contracting with a practice. There was a tie to a medical school though they didn’t have residents in his specialty and there were ties to a private research company that could offer opportunities in the future. 

So at the end of October he had two solid leads, neither of which he was crazy about, several academic jobs in the pipeline (or so we thought) and then the shoe dropped that his fellowship mentor was leaving to take the chairmanship at another program. In his specialty fellowships are a one-on-one mentorship, they are not required or accredited so they are truly for the experience only. We didn’t know what we were going to do, what was going to happen to his fellowship and if we were even going to have a job to go to in July.

Thanksgiving weekend we lied to our families to rearrange our travel plans so that he could interview in his home town without anyone knowing he was there because we had decided after being told where to go to med school (he got in last minute off of a waitlist) and then residency and fellowship we wanted this to be our decision for our family of 4. The interview at job #2 went great, he was dumbfounded and at the end of the 2nd day they handed him an offer and a contract draft. We were both shocked to say the least, he still had an interview with the other group in town and he wasn’t even sure this was the direction he wanted to go. Luckily there was no pressure for a quick answer and we discussed things over and over and over while he went ahead with the other interview a week later. He knew very quickly the first job in his hometown was not where he wanted to be and we kept going back to the pending contract, the pros and cons, the lack of academics and the proximity to family (was moving back after 13 years going to be hard? yes!).

We finally took the plunge and sent the contract to an attorney a few weeks into December. It was obvious that an academic job was not going to become an option. The job had become more and more intriguing, he would be the 3rd of 5 they were going to hire and because they would like for him to start the day after his contract was signed we could leave fellowship early and start early. We got the contract reviewed and signed just before Christmas and were very happy to tell our families at Christmas that we were coming home after 13 years. What had been a very stressful six months was finally over. It may not sound very stressful here but it was a daily stress, discussion and sometimes argument about whether we were doing enough, whether 13 years of hard work was for naught if he couldn’t find the job he wanted and whether we were making the right decisions for our family.

Because of the location of the new job and where we would live my husband had to have two state medical licenses plus his credentialing for the hospital. He and I spent an entire weekend filling out paperwork, requesting more paperwork and reading instructions until our eyes popped out. I have this great picture of he and I sitting at a table with piles of paper and our two laptops open, it looks like someone’s office had exploded. But the licenses came through, the credentialing went through without issue and on April 10th our moving truck pulled up in front of our fellowship rental. We enjoyed his three weeks off getting settled in our new home and then he started the “real” job.

We are now 14 1/2 months out of training and I won’t tell you the transition was easy, it wasn’t. Moving in mid-April when you have to take your kids out of their school and activities isn’t easy, being new to an area and neighborhood (the kids and I have never lived here) while everyone else is engrossed in year end activities, etc. was hard but just over a year later we are glad we have made the right decision for our family.

Now I wouldn’t say all of our decisions were the right ones, we love our house now but looking at 20+ houses in a long weekend and deciding when you’re spending what we spent was probably not the best idea. We didn’t want to move twice because of all of the moving we had done in the past and in hind sight that was stupid, we should have rented until we found the perfect house. But its growing on us, our kids are happy here and I finally feel like I’m hitting a groove with friends, groups, etc. My husband couldn’t be happier with his job, he’s very happy with the case mix he’s getting and is very happy with his partners. It hasn’t been all champagne and roses as they’ve already lost one partner who they are now trying to replace and his NP left for a better job for her family but those are bumps that anyone is going to have and we have discussed that we could see ourselves staying here forever. Who knows what is going to happen with healthcare going forward but for now we’re growing where we’re planted and hoping for the best.

Everyone’s hunt is different, everyone’s story is different, every specialty is different but hopefully this will help you go into it with your eyes open and know there are jobs, and sometimes where you least expect them.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Thanh said...

What was the recruiter's company? My husband is an intern and I'm an engineering recruiter. Was looking for a way to become a physician recruiter :)

July 24, 2014 at 12:38 AM  

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