When it’s time for physicians to start their all-important job search, those who are married or involved in a serious relationship have a secret weapon close at hand - their spouse or significant other.
Trouble is, physicians new to the job-search process might think they need to do it all themselves.
These five tips can help you illuminate how and when they can involve their spouse in the process.
1. Make sure the couple has discussed more than just compensation goals
What does a successful job look like in the day-to-day activities? Should the family stay in the area or move? Whose job will take priority? If the non-physician spouse works, are there job opportunities for them in a new location?
When counseling new physicians through a job search, encourage them to add these important questions to their discussions.
2. Suggest the spouse learn the timeline of a job search
Physicians can underestimate the time it takes to get licensed and credentialed in a new location. A spouse can help the process keep moving even when the physician is pressed for time.
"A spouse can remind the resident what steps to take and when," says Wendy Barr, M.D., director of Lawrence Family Medicine Residency in Massachusetts.
During your conversations, let the couple know how long the process can take so that both the physician and spouse can be prepared and motivated to act quickly. Recommend that physician spouses become familiar with the timeline of a typical job search. (The free resource FirstPractice.com can help.)
3. Encourage spouses to review the physician’s CV
Presenting to residents about the job-search process? Suggest that their spouses read over their CVs for typos. Spouses can also help research locations and job opportunities.
"It helps to build a spreadsheet," says Lara McElderry, a physician spouse and host of the "Married to Doctors" podcast. You can also suggest spouses help gather the documents employers will need and write thank-you notes after interviews.
4. Be clear on if the family is invited on a site visit
"No matter how much research you do, you don’t know how things really are until you experience the place for yourself," says Kavitha Thomas, who helped her physician husband, Sasha, when a job offer arose unexpectedly. Communicate early and clearly if the spouse (or whole family) is welcome on a site visit, and lay out the activities available to them.
5. Help the couple reach their final decision
The physician and his or her spouse will make the final decision, of course, but you can help shape their conversation with pointed questions after the interview.
Will the job meet the family’s priorities? Are there any concerns that still need to be addressed? Does the community offer the proximity to activities that are important to the whole family?
In the midst of job-search stress - especially for physicians undergoing it for the first time - it’s tempting for candidates to overestimate compensation discussions and minimize the total job-search picture. As a physician recruiter, your experience and insight can help physicians and their spouses make the best decision possible for their family’s next step.