Physician Story - What to Do When You're Not Quite Ready to Sign that First Permanent Contract

October 25th, 2013 2 Min read Physician Story - What to Do When You're Not Quite Ready to Sign that First Permanent Contract Blog
Young doctors walk out of their residency or fellowship armed with lots of things -- years of book knowledge, thousands of hours of clinical experience, countless interactions with patients -- and mountains of debt. Because student loan repayment waits for no one -- and boards and licensing don't come cheap -- many doctors try to land their first job as quickly as possible. But what if you're not quite ready to sign a long-term contract with a facility or jump into your own practice? After a combined residency in emergency medicine and internal medicine, Dr. Rachel Chapman wasn't looking to accept a permanent position right away. "It's really hard to know what a hospital is actually like, just through the interview process," Dr. Chapman says. "I wanted to be able to try a few out -- to experience different locations and settings -- before signing a multi-year contract." So she turned to locum tenens. "Things are so busy during residency that there just isn't time to discuss the finer points of the job hunt -- contract negotiation, the best places to work in the country, the benefits of working in an academic versus a community facility," Dr. Chapman explains. Despite her inexperience with the locum tenens concept, Dr. Chapman signed up with a staffing agency. It didn't go well. "There were many delays. My start date was pushed back month after month," she says. "I started the process in August, but they couldn't get me a job until October." Frustrated, Dr. Chapman turned to CompHealth. While she was explaining her situation over the phone to her CompHealth recruiter, the recruiter was instant-messaging with her peers, setting up credentialing and finding hospitals for Dr. Chapman to work with. "By the end of the call my recruiter said, "I have two hospitals that will do emergency credentialing. How would you like to start in three days?" Dr. Chapman recalls. "I immediately agreed and was on a plane two days later. The credentialing was finished by the time I started work the next morning." Dr. Chapman has since completed several locum tenens assignments. "My first job was in a small, rural facility. I was the only physician in the ER, which I was a little nervous about at first. The hospital offered me a permanent job on my second day, so I figured I must be doing a good job," she expresses. Because the facility was used to working with locums, Dr. Chapman says there were plenty of people to help her find her way. She also had the chance to hone her skills. "At large academic centers, many of the different procedures are done by consults. At a small rural hospital, you get to do everything. It's been a really good learning experience and has helped sharpen my skills." Dr. Chapman plans to keep taking locums assignments for the next few years. "After that, I think I'll have a better idea of what I want to do and where," she says. Click here for emergency medicine job opportunities.