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December 13, 2021

4 things residents do when negotiating

Most recruiters understand that physicians are typically unfamiliar with the job search process and, in particular, with effective negotiating tactics. They’ve never had any training, so missteps will occur - it’s almost a given, recruiters know.

To help, many recruiters take time to try and educate and inform physicians regarding what the next step is, what they can do to improve their odds of landing a coveted role, and what contract terms may or may not be negotiable.

Sometimes that advice is received and implemented, and other times, it is completely ignored, resulting in one or more of the four things that residents do during contract negotiations that can drive recruiters crazy.

In many cases, these actions end up hurting, rather than helping, their efforts to land a good job. They include:

Starting a search late

Trish Fite, CPRP, senior physician recruiter with Holland Hospital in Holland, Michigan, is interviewing members of the resident classes of 2022 and 2023 for anticipated openings at her employer. She expects that most residents finishing in 2022 will have their post-residency jobs locked down by the end of the year. That’s typical, she says. So candidates from the class of 2021 who only started applying a few short months before hoping to start a job "raise questions," Fite says. "I’m always a little leery." Even with strong candidates, she tends to wonder whether their late start is because other employers passed on them. Whatever the reason, the late start is frustrating.

Not understanding deadlines

What drives Michael Lester, senior director of physician/faculty recruitment and retention at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia crazy is when candidates try to restart contract negotiations after they are nearly completed.

"I tell them, ’There’s a part of our recruitment process, a phase of the process, where you’re able to negotiate terms,’" he says. And yet, even after hearing that, many doctors essentially ignore that window of opportunity and try to negotiate terms after signing an offer letter. Which means that the process of sealing the deal slows down, rather than getting finalized.

Collecting offers over too long of time

Mark Douyard, MBA, CPRP, senior physician recruiter with Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Delaware, explains that he expects residents to pursue multiple jobs simultaneously - the key word here being simultaneously. What drives Douyard crazy is when a candidate isn’t honest and transparent about where they are in their job search. That is, the hospital may issue an offer expecting a quick acceptance, only then to discover the physician has several more interviews scheduled, months away. He then has to decide whether to wait for the doctor to make up their mind or restart the interview process to fill the position sooner.

No follow-up

Although recruiters know they won’t land all of the candidates they want, another thing that drives them crazy is when physicians receive an offer and then "go dark," as Douyard calls it. After receiving an offer, Douyard would like to hear back that the candidate is considering it, is still waiting for another offer, or has accepted a position elsewhere. Any of those updates are welcome, he said. What is frustrating, and fairly common, however, is that they simply stop communicating. The assumption is then that they’ve opted to go elsewhere, but many times there is never any confirmation.

The only way to try to avoid these frustrating scenarios is to reassure physicians that being transparent about their search, and to provide regular updates, is greatly appreciated, even if the news may be disappointing. Letting them know that more information is always preferred to less information may help encourage them to stay in touch throughout the process.

Here are things physician do when negotiating their contracts.

Marcia Layton Turner

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