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Healthcare Hiring: 8 Questions a Physician Should Ask You During an Interview

February 16, 2012

In an interesting twist in healthcare hiring, we now have physicians seeking advice on how to “select” their employer.  They realize that the financial success and the personal satisfaction of their career will depend, to a large extent, on choosing the right situation.  They come out of residency poorly prepared to evaluate potential practice settings, be they with a group or a hospital.  Not surprisingly, a few years into their career, they often discover that it is not what they were looking for and they are back to square one.  This is not the sort of career uncertainty they envisioned when they entered the medical profession.

A young physician recently asked for guidance in evaluating a hospital employment opportunity. He would be the first employed neurosurgeon in the market.  Here are a few of the probes he and I came up with for his meeting with the hospital:

  1. What is the hospital’s physician employment strategy?  Are they seeking to fill a unique community need or is it their intention to move aggressively toward a largely employed medical staff?

  2. Who will manage the practice?  Many hospitals assume that running a specialty practice is just like primary care, where they have some experience.  It’s not.

  3. See if the CMO or VPMA will arrange a meeting with one of the independent neurosurgeons in town to gauge how you will be received as an employed physician.  Will you be accepted as a colleague or can you expect a chilly welcome?  

  4. What’s the primary care network look like? Employed/independent?  Can you meet with a physician to get a sense of how the medical community views the current neurosurgery service and improvements they’d like to see?

  5. Any market analysis looking at opportunity? i.e. How many surgeons will the market support?  Is there enough work to allow you to meet your goals?

  6. What’s the plan for new payment and integrated delivery models like bundled payment and ACOs?

  7.   Speak to current medical staff about how the OR runs and ask someone in the OR if they could handle the additional surgical case volume you expect to bring.  If you anticipate performing 10 cases a week, do they have the capacity?  Don’t trust vague assurances that they will meet your needs.  

  8. What is the administrative structure for, in this case, neurosurgery?  Is there a service line administrator of some sort whose responsibility it is to manage and build the service and with whom you can discuss long term plans and challenges? 

As a hospital, think about how powerful these questions can be.  Rather than waiting for a forward-thinking physician candidate to ask these questions, answer them pro-actively to demonstrate to the candidate that you’ve spent some time thinking about how you will ensure his or her success. Want to learn more? Check out our Healthcare Hiring Essentials eBook.

Reducing Turnover in Healthcare

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.