Practice Search Tips

A practice search is a time-consuming process. Help from Farr Healthcare, Inc. helps economize time in this process. We do this in a number of ways to include providing a large number of available opportunities, serving as an extra voice to support you to the opportunity and keeping the practice mindful of your interest in their opportunity.

It usually takes 6 months or more from start to finish for a  practice search.   Sometimes it’s shorter and sometimes it’s longer.   It all depends on the entity you’re dealing with, if you have to apply for a license, if you have to get hospital privileges, the time it takes to get on insurance panels, etc.   A senior resident may start to look as early as July of his/her senior year.   Alot of opportunities are available in the fall during the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s annual meeting.   Don’t get frustrated if you start late or a deal falls through because there are many opportunities available most anytime of the year.

Curriculum vitae

First, a curriculum vitae is necessary. A sample curriculum vitae may be found under the tab Sample Curriculum Vitae. It should be clear and concise. For example, make the headers of education bold such as Medical School, Residency, and University. The curriculum vitae should be 1-2 pages if you’re finishing your residency and a few pages if you’re a practicing physician. If you have a longer curriculum vitae, include the basic information in a few pages and then offer an addendum to include information such as publications when the opportunity begins discussions.

You may want to have 2 versions of your curriculum vitae if you’re pursuing opportunities in academics versus private practice, for instance. A curriculum vitae for academics would include information such as research and publications whereas the curriculum vitae for private practice opportunities would not include this information.

I do not recommend that you provide your cv to any recruitment firm or employer unless you’ve previously been provided with fairly comprehensive information about an opportunity. Once you release your cv to an entity, you have no control as to who they might provide it to without your knowledge.

An entity might provide it to doctors who you wouldn’t want to know that you’re considering practice opportunities. Although they shouldn’t, a recruitment firm might provide it to entities without your knowledge.

The inclusion of some personal information is optional. Farr Healthcare, Inc. recommends the inclusion of some personal information because it sets you apart from other candidates, personalizes you to the opportunity which makes you more than just a piece of paper to the opportunity thereby causing the opportunity to consider you before other candidates.

Do not include references on the curriculum vitae. This information may be abused by recruiters and practice representatives who might bother your references. You should always know who’s contacting your references. Be prepared to provide names, addresses and phone numbers if/when an opportunity asks for references. Ask for a few days to then tell your references that a practice representative will be in contact and inform the references of any specifics of the practice requirements. The reference will then be able to inform the practice representative about your relative features and this discussion will enhance your chances for consideration.

Categories such as Publications, Certification should be included if they pertain.

Cover letter

A cover letter is only beneficial if you use it to include information not on your curriculum vitae.

Preparing for the interview

Most practices pay the travel and other expenses for the interview. Don’t plan to take a spouse or significant other to the first interview unless the opportunity requests you to do so. Do not take children. If the opportunity is interested after the first interview, there is usually a second interview at which time the opportunity invites your spouse/significant other. Learn the names and positions of the people you’ll be meeting. Think of the questions the interviewers will ask and prepare your answers. Be an active participant in the interview by using any opportunity to highlight your features.

Never be negative about your current or former practice situations. Look your best: wear a suit. Please remember to send a thank you note after the interview.

Questions to ask during an interview

1. What has been the history of the position?
2. What are the benefits? I wouldn’t ask this until late in the interview or after the first interview.
3. How long on average does it take for the doctors to become partners?
4. Is there a restrictive covenant in the agreement? Again, I wouldn’t ask this as the first question.
5. How many procedures per day? And more questions about the responsibilities
6. How much competition is there?
7. How efficient are collections?
8. What is the current wait time for a patient to get a procedure? Said another way, is the need for services there or do they plan on the new doctor developing the practice
9. Where do the patients come from?
10. What is the practice’s philosophy – business-wise, patient-wise, etc.?

 

Interview questions
Being prepared for an interview is vital to the success of the practice search process.   Part of the preparation is practicing how to answer the questions during the interview.   Here’s some examples of interview questions and how to respond.

Q:   Why do you want to change employment?
A:     Don’t give them a horror story about your current employer.   No one wants to hear negative stories.   Negative stories in interviews make the person who’s telling them seem negative.   Instead give a generic answer such as that you’re looking for professional growth.

Q:   What do you wish to change about your present position?
A.   This is another question that you don’t want to present negative information.   Frankly, interviews are not the place for much, if any, negative information.   A good response could be “I’m looking for more inpatient work” if you’re interviewing for a position which involves inpatient work and you’re currently doing more outpatient work.

Q.   What are your professional goals?
A.   Your goals should jive with the goals of the practice, e.g. to help grow the practice, to make patients satisfied with their visit, being active in the community.   Therefore, to respond succesfully, you must do your homework to find out what the practice’s goals are.   This may not be available as is but you can make deductions about it from your initial conversation with the practice and the website.   For example, the practice physician may have talked with you on the phone about how the practice just added a fluro suite.   Given this expense, it’s no doubt a concern of the practice to pay off this expense so their goal is to build the interventional referral base. Professional goals can be: patient education, to become Board Certified, to become a partner.

Q,   What would a colleague say about your strengths and weaknesses?
A. This is another trick question.   Most interview questions are seeking information which the answers indirectly provide the essence of the interviewee’s character and values.   For example, you might respond to this question that your weakness is that you’re impatient.   Rather than say that you’re impatient, it’s better to say that you strive for perfection and that at times you  become impatient with yourself when trying to get something done on time and  well.

Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: Use this as an opportunity to highlight your strengths.   Don’t tell them what you’ve done since you were born.   It is ideal if you can inform the interviewer of your strengths by telling real-life scenarios you’ve experienced.

Q: What are your expectations of this position?
A: If you have a clear understanding of the job expectations, then the answer is simple.   However, most times you won’t.   Don’t be afraid to tell them that and turn the question around to them.

Q: Why do you have an interest in this position?
A: Use this question to show the entity your knowledge of them.   If, for example, their focus is Workers Compensation, then link that to your abilities in Workers Compensation.   One of the practices that I worked with in Phoenix was concerned that the new doctor could tolerate the heat there.   In this case, use this question to address any possible negatives of the position and how you enjoy what to others might be negative.

Q: Any question that you don’t have an answer for!
A: Don’t stumble to come up with an answer that you’re not sure of.   Interviews cause people to want to provide answers for every question.   However, it is the wise interviewee who will confess that he/she doesn’t know.   You could say “I don’t know, but I ‘d be happy to learn” or “I’m not sure but I’ll get back to you. “



Negotiations

Know beforehand what points are negotiable. It is important that all the dates are correct such as for education and employment. If they do not follow consecutively, please include a short explanation as to why/what you were doing.

Important Links

http://www.fsmb.org
http://www.salary.com
http://www.homefair.com

RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS
Restrictive covenants are a common staple of most Employment Agreements. They restrict you from practicing in your specialty within a defined geographic area for a set period of time after your employment ends. You may have been told that “they’re not enforceable anyway”, but while some states and courts do frown upon them, in most instances they are in fact enforceable so long as the geographic and defined practice scope of the covenant is reasonably related to the legitimate business interests of the employer. Does the employer actually get patients from that reach area? Are they in that line of business? In many cases the answer is “yes”.

Regardless, even if you think it is an overreaching covenant, can you afford to spend the legal fees to fight it, particularly if you need a job right away without exposing your new employer to cease and desist threats that make them fearful they are wasting their time in hiring you or you cannot get your legal fees reimbursed after all of that hassle (even if you win)? The answer is a resounding “no” so you must only sign an agreement if you can live with the covenant.

Part-Time Work
Yes, restrictive covenants are even imposed for part-time jobs that are 3 or fewer days a week. You will still be introduced to their patient base and referral sources so you are a threat regardless. Nonetheless, I recommend balking at signing one if you are only there for 2 or fewer days per week, or seeing if they are willing to modify the length of time of the covenant or the geographic scope because of this. Perhaps the geographic scope will increase only if you leave your employment in year 2.

If you have another job at the same time, then make sure that the covenant does not interfere with the locations of your other job. Even if you work at one location on behalf of another employer, they may have more than one office and expect you to either switch or to refer across offices. If one of their offices or facility affiliations falls within the defined geographic area, then make sure that you have express permission to continue to work for them without issue.

Geographic Area
Always ask for them to reduce this. The worst they can do is say “no”. Within an urban environment, miles might not be an appropriate border, and streets, avenues and natural boundaries (parks or rivers) may be better. In suburban or rural areas, the appropriate mile radius is largely dependent on the nature of travel and the availability of healthcare in the area. Experienced attorneys can advise you as to propriety. In any event, see if you can prevent it from falling outside of the border of a particular city, county or even the state in which you are located.

Typically they will have a broad covenant that applies to all of their locations, even if you do not work there. If it says you cannot work within a specified mile radius of any office or facility of theirs (or those with which they are affiliated), then try to have them limit it to their main site only, your primary site only, or just both their main site and the secondary primary site in which you are assigned. The manner of determining your primary site might be based on number of days on average spent there, percentage of time split, or number of patient encounters. The objective basis should be stated in the agreement. Having a covenant apply a radius surrounding every office including offices in which you may never work or only sporadically provide coverage could have the result of drastically expanding the geographic area beyond fairness.

Article contributed by Ron Lebow, More information on this subject will follow in the next newsletter

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