At this time of year, residents and fellows nearing graduation are scheduling job interviews and looking forward to beginning their first physician job. Part One of this Journal Notes sub-series on JGME Rip Outs looked at a series of short, how-to articles on career development for clinician educators. In this follow-up feature, we look back on some previous Rip Outs that offer job search advice to resident/fellow physicians. For anyone now preparing for those first physician job interviews, we recommend the Rip Out titled Successfully Navigating the Physician Job Interview, which offers perspectives on searching for jobs and navigating the job interview season.
According to Dr. Avraham Cooper, JGME associate editor and co-author of How to Approach the First Physician Job Search, it’s important to start preparing for the job search process early, preferably at least 18 months before graduation.
Dr. Cooper also believes that the process of a successful search should begin with a period of self-reflection. While it is important to find mentors and make connections with faculty members who can help you get to that next level, it helps to know what you want your first job to look like. Dr. Cooper knew he wanted to be a clinician educator and to have a job with a formal teaching role, so he was able to work with his mentor to help him to be competitive for those types of positions. During the job search, there are many factors outside the applicant’s control. However, he notes, "A big part of what you can control is understanding your own goals and priorities. It is much easier for your mentor or your network to help you if you can say, ‘This is where I am. This is where I want to go. Can you help me map this out?’”
For Dr. Cooper, one of the most important skills one can cultivate for this process is how to tell your own story. He says, “You need to really understand the continuum of your past, present, and future, to know how the things you've done in the past—your accomplishments, your roles, your experiences— have informed your current work and how that then connects to your future vision for yourself.” JGME Deputy and Rip Out Editor Dr. Deb Simpson, PhD adds that your story can’t just be about you. “Highlight what’s unique about you,” she says, “but also explain what value you would add to wherever you're going. Then, as you go into a job interview, prepare brief 30-60 second stories that highlight your overall narrative and practice them.”
For JGME Deputy and Rip Out Editor Dr. Deb Simpson, the main theme of these Rip Outs is similar to that of the Career Development series: “Don’t go it alone.” You may, for example, lay out an impressive CV, but others can point out where it might still need work. More importantly for Dr. Simpson, though, is that “people who know you can point out areas where you stand out that you in fact may have forgotten” – or not even considered. For all that to happen, it’s important to start building those connections early in your graduate medical education and training. These early connections can also pay off in your reference letters. It may seem obvious, but as Dr. Simpson points out, “If people don’t really know you, they don’t write very strong letters.”
Regardless of where you are in the job search process, the Career Transition Rip Out series has advice for every step of the way, from writing your CV, to securing good letters of recommendation, to negotiating a contract, to preparing for your next career role.
As always, JGME wants to hear from you. Let us know what other Rip Outs you’d like to see by emailing email@example.com.
Journal Notes blogger Kevin Gladish is a staff editor for the Journal of Graduate Medical Education. He’s been at the ACGME since 2016, and is also a performer, writer, and storyteller.