Within a year, Penelope Hsu, M.D., left her first professional job. So did Jonathan Pagan, M.D., a radiation oncologist. And they’re not alone. A recent survey by an Atlanta-based recruiting company found that half of the 500 physicians the company surveyed left their first job after five years. More than half of those stayed on the job only one or two years.
Why do so many leave so early? More and more experts are pointing to workplace culture as the reason. In fact, a recent study suggests that workplace culture can play a more important role in reducing physician burnout and medical errors than improving safety protocols.
So what can you do to help applicants find the job that will feel like the perfect fit? Here are four questions to ask applicants.
What does your perfect job look like?
They won’t recognize the perfect workplace unless they know what that workplace looks like. Too often, says Pagan, workplace fit doesn’t come into consideration for physicians. "We’re at the whim of match algorithms," he says. "We’re programmed to take what we get." So encourage applicants to sit down and ask themselves what their values are, what’s important to them, and what their best and worst days on the job would look like.
What do you know about this workplace?
Now that they can envision their perfect workplace, encourage them to do a little research before the site visit. Have them check the "About Us" section of your website, for example, and look for the kind of buzzwords that are meaningful for them, like patient-centered, communication or teamwork. That will give them a clue as to whether or not the job will be a good fit before making the time for a visit.
Encourage candidates to use their network and call other providers who work at the facility or in the area and can give first-hand information about the culture.
On the site visit, what did you notice?
The site visit will reveal much about a workplace culture, so tell applicants to keep their eyes open throughout their visit. In your follow-up, ask for specifics to help them reflect. Did the culture match their expectations? What did or didn’t fit? What did they find surprising about the organization or community?
What questions do you have?
Questions about salary and call hours are natural, of course, but questions from a more engaged candidate include:
• What steps have you taken to provide for physician health and wellness opportunities?
• How long has the current staff been there?
• What kind of team will I work with?
• Is there anyone else who might be helpful for me to talk with?
The more you engage candidates throughout the job-search process - and seek out both positive and negative feedback along the way - the more likely that they’ll know when your organization and opportunity are the best possible fit.