Casting a Wide Net
How networking can help young physicians land your first position by Wesley Millican

Every young physician knows it’s important to keep up with the latest research. But if you’re looking for your first job after a residency or fellowship, extra journal reading may not be your smartest move.

Most of the best jobs never make it into the journal classifieds—or into the active files of headhunters. They’re filled through networking. Residents and Fellows who are well connected land the great jobs long before anyone else in the specialty hears a word.

Networking can be your best strategy for finding the kind of position you’re looking for as you begin your career. This article takes a closer look at networking from both sides—the hiring physician practice and the doctor looking to be hired.

How physician practices think about hiring

Most physician practices don’t think ahead about their hiring needs. Far from having a five-year growth plan, they focus on hiring only when an acute need arises. The death or departure of a partner, more volume due to managed care contracts, creation of a satellite office—all of these are critical changes that can bring recruiting to the top of the agenda.

When practices search for a new physician, most take these common steps:

  • They check in with their alma mater. They know the school, its strengths and weaknesses, and have contacts they can trust for an honest referral.
  • They call sources at other institutions where colleagues have trained.
  • They review ads in journals and hire search firms.
  • They contact potential hires who’ve identified themselves through networking.

Residents and fellows make up half of the physicians looking for positions. The other half are practicing doctors with experience and established contacts. Given the nature of your competition, it’s important to move quickly to build your own network of colleagues and references.

How you should think about hiring

If physician practices are last-minute thinkers when it comes to employment, you need to take the long view. Start thinking about where you’d like to work 18 months to two years before your training is over. Here’s a simple checklist of things to focus on:

  • Identify and learn about the cities that appeal to you
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in each market—competition, managed care environment, etc.
  • Identify the practices that interest you based on size, physician mix, reputation, etc.
  • Target two to three practices and lead physicians for your initial contacts.
  • Harness your network—identify colleagues, professors, family members and friends who can help you with an introduction to the targeted practices.
  • Make contact by letter and follow-up call—include your CV and letters of reference.
  • If the initial contact goes well, make arrangements for an in-person visit.

Taking an active approach to networking will help the practices you’re interested in get to know you early and better. When a hiring need arises, you’ll be one of the first candidates they think of. For more information about networking and career development, visit CareerPhysician at

About the Author:

Wesley D. Millican, MBA, CEO and Physician Talent Officer of CareerPhysician Advisors, LP, and CareerPhysician, LLC, provides comprehensive talent solutions for academic children’s hospitals, colleges of medicine and academic medical centers across the nation. He possesses a longstanding passion for career development of all young physicians and serves as a go to career resource for training program directors and their residents and fellows. In continuing his commitment to the “future of medicine”, Mr. Millican speaks nationally at residency and fellowship programs. His Launch Your Career® Series is a proven resource for today’s residents and fellows and has served as a go to resource for program directors over the last 15 years.