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10 things hospitals are looking for in a physician

doctor who know what hospitals are looking for in a physician

You may have the clinical skills and required experience, but if you want to land the perfect physician job you will need to stand out from the competition. Even for highly sought-after specialties, healthcare facilities are looking for more than just someone who can see patients and perform procedures; they want candidates who will make a positive impact on the organization and the community. Here are the top 10 things recruiters are looking for when hiring a physician.

1. Longevity

“Healthcare facilities want someone they feel is going to stay. They look for physicians who either have family in the area or have a compelling reason to stay. Maybe they’re a windsurfer and this community has the very best place to windsurf, for example,” says Lisa Goldstein, a senior physician recruiter for CompHealth. Over the past 15 years, she has helped hundreds of physicians find hospitalist and emergency medicine positions throughout the United States.

“Facilities want to know that there’s something about their opportunity that’s attracting the doctor enough to make them stay,” she says. That reason could even be financial in some cases. “A doctor may want to be there because he has $500,000 worth of student loans, so he’ll stay there for five years because they offer a $20,000 loan repayment bonus at the end. That can be a compelling reason for some physicians.”

2. Community fit

Goldstein says rural hospitals in particular recognize that fewer physicians are interested in positions there, which means community fit is especially important for these hiring managers.

“The hiring managers sometimes feel the doctor is not going to stay because they’re not going to be happy in their community,” Goldstein explains. “You have to set yourself apart from the other candidates by explaining why you want to be there.”

RELATED: How to get a physician job with a J-1 visa

3. Flexibility

The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded a lot from healthcare organizations. While clinical skills continue to be important, Goldstein points out that hiring managers are also looking for physicians who can be flexible.

“Showcase that you’re willing to adapt to a situation. Every hospital has been feeling the pain of COVID-19 over the last two years, and some physicians were rigid and only wanted to abide by what their contract and job description said,” Goldstein recalls. “If you are, in fact, adaptable, put a summary at the top of your CV about how important it is to adapt to current situations.”

Doctor discussing with patient in hospital

4. Growth mindset

Hiring managers also appreciate physicians who want to improve their own skills and are interested in helping the hospital become more successful.

“Groups like physicians who want to grow with them and want to be involved in making the program better. If you take on challenges and have a future goal of moving into leadership or committee involvement, include that in your CV,” Goldstein says.

When talking about your interest in leadership in your interview, however, Goldstein says it’s important to be cautious. If a decisionmaker interviewing you is next in line for a position but won’t get it until the current leader moves on in five years, they won’t appreciate you saying you want to be a leader in two years.

“Say, ‘I’ll do what it takes to make the program successful, my leader can count on me, I’ve been very involved in committees and helping the strategic goals of the group,’” she explains. “Say that you’re always looking for growth opportunities and bringing knowledge from other programs. Groups like stability. They don’t want a job hopper, they want someone who wants to dig in and bring their experience there and stay.”

5. Tech-savviness

If you pick up new technology quickly, Goldstein says, make sure you mention that in an interview and also include details on your CV.

“There are a lot of physicians out there who are not as tech-savvy. If you’re well-versed in EMRs and know more than one system, list them,” she says. “There’s probably technology we’re not even thinking of that’s going to be adapted into practice moving forward.”

6. Practice fit

Some private practices want physicians to see the highest number of patients to get the maximum profit, while hospitals often look for physicians who are patient-focused, Goldstein explains. She encourages doctors to ensure their CV reflects the job they’d like to get and that they’re honest in interviews about the way they prefer to work.

“You want to showcase who you are and what model practice is right for you. Right now, we’re seeing a huge shift towards hospital employment, but private practice and contract groups are other options. Do you want stable employment and a moderate salary, or do you prefer to roll up your sleeves and see a larger volume of patients and make a higher income?” she says.

Depending on the type of practice, you can emphasize both people-focused traits and efficiency. “If you have teaching interest and you like working with residents or mentoring others, even if it’s not an academic program, I think that’s important. Everyone wants someone who is helpful and willing to mentor other newer physicians,” Goldstein says. “To address questions about time management, say that you’re able to see a large number of patients efficiently and still provide them high-quality care.”

RELATED: How to evaluate a physician practice opportunity

Doctor Pleased With Elderly Couple's Test Results

7. Professionalism

Goldstein notes that a professional-looking CV can make a big difference when a hiring manager is comparing two similar candidates.

“If you see someone who doesn’t take the time to polish their CV or has an old fax copy with handwritten dates on it, that’s saying they’re not tech-savvy. There are hidden messages in the things you do,” she explains. “They think, ‘What’s he/she going to be like on our EMR?’ You’re telling them something about yourself without intending to. A professional-looking CV is very important.”

Organization is also a big part of professionalism, and requiring a lot of extra work for a hiring manager can cost you a job.

“It gets very messy to credential someone who has worked all over the place, and it may be a reason a hiring manager shies away,” Goldstein cautions. “They want someone who has really good organizational skills and has all their paperwork ready.”

8. Enthusiasm

Some doctors are afraid to seem too excited about a job in an interview because they’re afraid their eagerness will mean they lose the chance to negotiate salary and other benefits.

“Show that you want to be there,” Goldstein says. “You don’t have to lose your card for negotiating, but you want to show that you’re enthusiastic. Say, ‘Hey, I love the rural community, and I felt such good chemistry with your staff. I’d love to move forward in your process.’”

9. Foreign language fluency

Goldstein reminds physicians to include other languages they speak on their CV, especially a language that can help in their practice.

“Sometimes I’ll just say to a physician, ‘You don’t happen to speak Spanish, do you?’ They do, and it’s not on their CV,” she says. “Absolutely put it there.”

10. Volunteerism

While including volunteer experience on your CV can help employers see that you are community-minded, overemphasizing this can hurt your job chances.

“If you have five pages of your volunteer work, the hiring manager is thinking, ‘This person is going to want to take two months off to volunteer,’” Goldstein explains. “Include community involvement as one of your interests, and then list the places you’ve volunteered. You never know what you’ll put on your CV that the person interviewing you has a passion for.”

Get help from the professionals

Knowing what hospitals are looking for can help you stand out from other candidates, but it can give you an additional boost to have an expert like Goldstein in your corner during the process.

“It’s nice to have someone advocate for you. We can help you tell the story that makes you stand out from other candidates. We connect the dots between the CV and the job,” Goldstein explains. “The follow-up we do can get hospital recruiters to pay more attention to your candidacy.”

CompHealth has been helping physicians find the perfect job for more than 40 years. For one-on-one help in your job search, give us a call at 888.212.0816 or view physician job opportunities.

More on what hospitals are looking for:

About the author

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a healthcare writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.


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  • That is very helpful. It presented me a number of ideas and I’ll be placing them on my blog eventually. I’m bookmarking your website and I’ll be back. Thank you again!

  • THE skill that I learned while a Resident in a primary care internal medicine program at the U. of Rochester was the Biopsychosocial Model of interaction and intervention. I learned to: 1) listen to the patient, 2) communicate with the patient my interest in hearing her/his story of illness from its beginning to the present AND about the what was going on in the patient’s life before the illness began, 3) understand when imbalances are occurring between the biological / psychological / interactional aspects of the patient’s presentation & life in general, 4) use motivational interviewing to understand how the patient’s medically damaging behavior has positives per patient discussion of the “positives” of that behavior; 5) understand the power of patient self-talk to arrive at their own hypotheses about what is happening as well as how they might participate in their own self care; 6) benefit by the interaction with everyone using the motto: “I never interacted with a person from whom I did not learn a lot”; 7) dedicate myself first at the ending of a patient interaction to explaining to the patient what I learned in the interaction and how that “learning” might benefit their care in a clear and concise way; 8) bounce hypotheses off colleagues including nurses to get their input regarding my ideas and to get their own independent thoughts; 10) emphasize to myself, my patients and my colleagues the value of continuity of care in achieving better patient outcomes..

    • Thanks for sharing your top 10 skills, Charles. It’s always great to get input from physicians about the skills they have learned throughout their careers.

      • Charles,
        While all laudable, one hopes you retain atleast the broad themes of these a decade henceforth!
        The truth is the medical education system is sincere and with honorable objectives. For the most part the priducts(physicians) are likewise, then as we enter the working world, we come across the machinery. Machinery designed by a self serving power structure that focuses on all the wrong things from a patient’s perspective. Yet we realise that we are not really the ones in control of our working lives or our destiny. The forces that are shaping our working days are far beyond those walls and increasingly imposing themselves on us and our patients.
        The power today lies with administrators and politicians and bit with patients and doctors. Therefore the blame for the ailing health system needs to be placed where it belongs. The landscape has changed dramatically in the last 25 yrs and the media and general public has not awakened to the reality.

    • And then apply these when you see 30 patients a day in hospitals or 40 in outpatient strings

      Good luck dear
      Wake up you have been fooled

  • I think what you are describing is putting hospitals and administrators first, not physicians and/or patients. It is all about exerting power and control over physicians, isn’t it?, including obsessively combing over Press Ganey scores that are largely irrelevant for the most part, especially for experienced clinicians. Quality does not matter much anymore. All of this comes as a sad commentary as to what new physicians will be experiencing in the future. As a noble profession, we doctors should strive for professional freedom, and defending the only relationship that matters, the patient-physician relationship, not third parties profiting from our hard work in a tyrannical fashion,

  • Most important criteria hospital executives are looking for in a Hospitalist:

    1) professional yes men/women.

    My experience is that hospitals will forego any of the traits mentioned above if they can get a yes person.

    Another ugly reality is that the nasty racist xenophobic element of America has receded to the corridors of power in America’s hospitals. It’s completely ironic that Obama has empowered them the most with his accountable care act.

  • Or being a slave same thing
    Wrapped it up anyway you want it
    It is slavery
    Time management that is a joke
    Hospitals expect you to see 25 patients in a day plus admit
    I do not care how smart you are you have to cut corners to be ” efficient”

    Whoever is silly enough to believe this is a very naive physician

    Will never work in hospital for groups or other entities
    Been there done that my hell is over


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