You’re unhappy with your workload or schedule.
Your spouse has been transferred to a different state.
You simply want a change of scenery.
Regardless of the reason, you’re looking for a new job. In hospital medicine, how and when is it appropriate to give notice? To maintain good relations with your current employer now and in the future, make sure you consider your departure from both sides of the desk.
Timing is Everything
Before you start skimming classified ads and phoning friends in the field to ask about job openings, consider how much time your employer needs to fill your position.
“When you’re thinking about leaving a group, you have to realize that the timing for getting your replacement is longer than you might think,” says Heather A. Harris, MD, a hospitalist who splits her time between the University of California, San Francisco and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “The traditional two-week notice in other jobs is tough for most [hospital medicine] groups to handle—unless it’s a really big group or already overstaffed, which is never the case.”
Dr. Harris, who hired many hospitalists when she was director of Eden Inpatient Services, Eden Medical Center, Castro Valley, Calif., recommends giving a minimum of two months notice. “That gives your group time to figure out what to do,” she says. “Otherwise, you’re putting the entire group in a bind.”
Other physicians suggest an even longer timeframe. “My preference would be that a hospitalist give me no less than six months notification,” says Fred A. McCurdy, MD, PhD, MBA, associate dean for faculty development, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Amarillo. “That’s a best-case scenario for finding a replacement. It could take longer than that.”
The issue is workload for the doctors left behind: “The other hospitalists are going to have to cover the slack in the meantime,” Dr. Harris points out. “Keep that in mind when you’re giving notice; you’re putting everyone else in a position where they have to cover the work.”
A lengthy timeframe actually could dovetail with your own transition. “You’ll have to get credentialed at that new hospital,” Dr. Harris says. “It’s important to realize when you get that job offer that group might want you to start the next day, but you have to wait until the credentialing process is complete.” Depending on the hospital, that could take as long as three months.
It’s important to know the specifics of your new hospital’s credential process. “You don’t want to leave a job before you have the means to enter a new job,” Dr. McCurdy warns. “Make sure you understand when you can actually start the work.”