Just Out of Residency? Here Are Mistakes to Avoid and Actions to Take
If you’re a new physician, wrapping up your residency and committing to your first post-residency job can be exhilarating. At this point, you’re well on your way to defining yourself as a physician and setting your career trajectory. While you may feel the pressure to jump right into action, it’s wise to step back and consider common career mistakes of new physicians and how to avoid them. That way, you can proceed with the confidence, self-awareness and foresight to build your career strategically and successfully. With that in mind, here are our top do’s and don’ts when you’re just out of residency:
DON’T accept less than you deserve. As an emerging physician, you may be tempted to settle for the first position you’re offered. However, it’s important to remember that you’re in demand, and you have options. DO carefully consider your wants and needs in a career, including location, schedule, practice environment, patient load, salary, benefits, and work-life balance. If you don’t find a match, keep looking. If you do find a match but still have wants and needs, negotiate. If you’re working with a recruiter, ask them to negotiate on your behalf.
DON’T forget about your CMEs. It can be easy to lose track of time when you’re just embarking on your first position out of residency. DO take time in advance to plan out your continuing medical education (CME) for the year so you meet your annual requirements and continue to grow professionally. Remember that CME requirements vary by state. Check with your state’s board, which you can find via the Federation of State Medical Boards, to confirm the required CMEs (FSMB).
DON’T neglect financial planning. A study by AMA Insurance, an American Medical Association subsidiary, found that more than 50% of young physicians feel they don’t spend adequate time on financial planning. DO take steps to establish a solid financial future. Newly minted physicians should 1) start saving from day one, putting a portion of their salary into savings each month; 2) develop a budget, keeping both debt payment and retirement savings in mind; 3) seek advice from seasoned physicians; 4) plan for the unexpected, with emergency savings, a will, and a medical directive; and 5) find a reliable financial adviser who specializes in working with physicians (AMA).
DON’T hesitate to ask for help. You may feel that since you’ve had so much education and training and completed your residency, you’ll be expected to hit the ground running with no questions asked. However, it’s completely acceptable to ask your colleagues and staff questions. DO reach out when you need guidance or information. Asking questions can show strength rather than weakness. It can help you learn from others and forge relationships with the team.
DON’T ignore self-care. Provider burnout is nothing new. The COVID-19 pandemic brought awareness of burnout and exhaustion to the forefront. Researchers have urged a “critical shift in thinking – one that prioritizes caring for oneself as an effective means of caring for others” (C. F. Pipas, American Academy of Family Physicians). As part of a new generation of physicians, you can lead change within the system and redefine providers’ relationship to self-care. DO take action to protect and preserve your health and well-being during this new phase. Consider mindfulness, meditation, sleep habits, healthy eating, exercise, gratitude practice, social interactions, family time, mentorship, journaling, counseling, gardening, traveling, hiking, etc.
DON’T go it alone. Navigating the careerscape on your own can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Instead of flying solo, DO build a relationship with a trusted recruiting agency that specializes in placing physicians. A skilled, passionate recruiter can serve as an enduring ally, helping you methodically craft your career for decades to come. They can make the job search easy, exciting and even enjoyable. Imagine having a partner who can sift through jobs for you, find you an ideal match, advise you on your CV and interviews, help with licensing, handle credentialing, negotiate on your behalf, arrange your onboarding and much more!
We’re excited about helping you take the next steps in your career. See our current opportunities for physicians at Cross Country Search.