When considering a hospital job — whether it’s for a permanent position or a temporary assignment — it’s critical to do your due diligence before you sign on. This is true whether you’re a physician, PA, NP, CRNA, or other healthcare professional.
“It’s all about the match and knowing your skill set and what environment you want to work in,” says Sarah Thacker, a 17-year veteran staffing consultant on CompHealth’s hospitalist team. “Different personalities work better for certain settings.”
Be absolutely honest with yourself about your current skill set and preferences. Know your work style, goals, and personality, then avoid situations counter to your skills and preferences. “For instance, you wouldn’t want to take on a position requiring procedures you’re uncomfortable performing,” Thacker says. “Or if you’re right out of residency, a 25-bed hospital as the sole doctor would probably overstretch your skills.”
When choosing a hospital job, here are 12 ways to evaluate the fit and determine the quality of the opportunity.
1. Check the census
Find out how busy the facility is, ask how many patients you’ll see per day, and re-verify this in the interview. There is a standard for every specialty of what a doctor, NP, nurse, or other healthcare professional can safely and comfortably manage. Not only should you look at this from a safety perspective, but also look at your own preference too. “If you know you want to spend more time with patients, look for a job with a lower census of about 10 patients a day,” says Thacker. “If you’re fast-paced, go where you’ll see 20 patients a day.”
2. Ask about the support
Find out what specialists and resources the facility has available and consider how that matches your preferred work style. For instance, if you’re uncomfortable performing certain procedures, make sure there are specialists on staff or on call who can support you.
3. Look at the job details
When choosing a hospital job, look at the full details to make sure they’re complete and ask about anything not specified. “A lot of gaps in the details can be a red flag,” Thacker says. “When you’re interviewing, make sure they go through every aspect of the job details with you.”
4. Do a Google search
News articles in particular can indicate potential red flags such as financial troubles or legal crises. However, don’t put too much weight on negative reviews, because people tend to write them only when they have something to complain about.
5. Find out why they’re hiring
Try to find out why the facility is hiring. Is there high turnover? Has a new administration come in that is unpopular with long-term staff members? Or is it because they are going through a growth phase. Always try get as much information as you can.
6. Talk to past staff members
Whenever possible, try to get in touch with past staff members and others in the local medical community to learn about the facility’s reputation. “You can get a feel by calling around and just talking to people,” Thacker recommends.
7. Make a site visit
An on-site interview is a great opportunity to spot red flags. “Take a second and look at the staff when you’re on site,” Thacker suggests. “How does the staff seem? Are they smiling? Or are they running around stressed out?”
8. Learn about the culture
A hospital’s culture can make a lot of difference in how much you enjoy working there. How does the group get along? Is it like a family or do most people work on their own? Are leadership and staff members welcoming to minorities and younger physicians?
9. Ask about scheduling requirements
What will be your required hours and shifts? For instance, does your contract require you to cover extra shifts if the hospital loses staff members? How often do you have to do call? Try to learn how the job requirements will affect your work/life balance before accepting the position.
10. Find out who you are REALLY working for
It’s important to learn who is paying your salary and managing the facility. “Always know who you are working for all the way up to the top,” Thacker advises. Is it a management group, HMO, hospital, or physician group? Who is ultimately in charge can affect your employment experience.
11. Learn about the facility’s technology
Smaller hospitals may have less sophisticated equipment. Are you comfortable working with older systems or is it important to you to have the latest equipment?
12. Consider the pay
How does the pay compare to your other offers? And how does that factor into the total opportunity? Thacker says, “Pay is perhaps the least important factor, because a pay difference of $10,000 may not be worth it if all these other things are questionable.”
“Remember, it’s all about the match,” Thacker emphasizes. Asking the right questions and doing your homework before accepting the job will help you be happier and more successful in your next hospital job.