In today’s wide-open job market, hospitalists can pick a plum position anywhere in the United States. With promising opportunities in sunny Hawaii, bustling New York City, and everywhere in between—likely including your own hometown—the temptation to move to a warmer climate, kid-friendly small town, or bigger paycheck may be irresistible.
Michael-Anthony Williams, MD, chief medical officer for the Rocky Mountain Region of Sound Inpatient Physicians, has hired hospitalists who come to Denver from across the country.
“Market competition [for hospitalists] is definitely fierce and will remain so,” he says. “But no matter where you’re looking or what you’re searching for, you need to get a sense of the group you’ll be joining.”
Sameer Badlani, MD, hospitalist and instructor at the University of Chicago, agrees location should come second to the job itself. “You have to do a lot of introspection and decide what you’re looking for,” he cautions. “If you’re unhappy, ask yourself why a new job would be different.”
After taking this advice into account, consider the challenges and opportunities of starting life anew somewhere else.
Reasons to Relocate
Why think about moving in the first place?
“Money might be the biggest reason,” speculates Dr. Badlani. “The only way to make significantly more money is to become a partner in the practice. I’d say if you’re a hospitalist who’s relocating, you should definitely try to become a partner.”
Another reason to consider moving might be family reasons. “If a spouse gets a job offer in a different city, it’s easy for the hospitalist to move there and find a job,” Dr. Badlani points out. “With the economy the way it is, I think that more and more you’ll see spouses’ jobs influencing where hospitalists relocate.”
Some hospitalists move because they are drawn to a certain region or lifestyle. Dr. Williams says. “We certainly see people who target geography as playing a big role in their job search.”
If you fall into this category, be careful to do your research to discover the realities of your dream location.
“I’d advise that you make more than one trip to a place if you’ve never lived there before,” Dr. Badlani says. “See exactly what it means to live there. Visit the hospital medicine group more than once. Go out with a real estate agent and look at houses.”
—Sameer Badlani, MD, hospitalist and instructor, University of Chicago
Timing Is Everything
Once you’ve decided you are interested in moving—or have to move—get started with your location scouting and your job search.
“You should start looking [for a job] even earlier when you’re relocating,” Dr. Badlani advises. “And be sure to tell your supervisor that you’re thinking of relocating. This seems like a bad idea to some people, but it will be worse if you wait and give two weeks’ notice. That is unfair to your employer and your colleagues who will have to cover your work, and you will end up burning your bridges.” He recommends telling your current employer while interviewing for next year. If you’re already deep into your search, that should be about six or seven months in advance, he says.