Quality improvement (QI), patient safety, and patient satisfaction are central to hospital medicine. Medication reconciliation, infection control, handoff, transitions of care, listening carefully to patients, and explaining things to them are likely things you’ve done throughout residency. Communicate to employers your experience in and appreciation of these areas. Completing a QI or patient safety project and participating on a hospital committee will help make you a competitive applicant.
Interview Do’s and Don’ts
The advice most were given when applying to residency still holds. Be on time, dress professionally, research the program, and be prepared to speak about why you want to work at a particular place. Speak to hospitalists in the group, and be very courteous to everyone.
Don’t start off by asking about salary—if you move along in the process, compensation will be discussed. Get a clear picture of the schedule and how time off/non-clinical time occurs, but don’t come off as inflexible or too needy.
Ask why hospitalists have left a group. Frequent turnover without good reason could be a red flag. If the hospitalist director and/or department chair are new or will be leaving, you should ask how that might affect the group. If the current leadership has been stable, ask what growth has occurred for the group overall and among individuals during their tenure.
Find out whether hospitalists have been promoted academically and if there are career growth opportunities in areas you are interested in. Try to determine if the group has a “voice” with administration by asking for examples of how hospitalist concerns have been positively addressed.
Having a clear picture of how much nursing, social work, case management, subspecialist, and intensivist support is available is critical. Whether billing is done electronically or on paper is important, as is the degree of instruction and support for billing.
Take the opportunity to meet the current hospitalists—and note that their input often is solicited as to whether or not to hire a candidate—and ask them questions away from the ears of the program leadership; most hospitalists like to meet potential colleagues.
Closing the Deal
If you make it past the interview stage, be sure additional deliverables, such as letters of recommendation, are on time. Now is the time to ask about salary. Don’t be afraid to inquire about relocation or sign-on bonuses. At this point, the employer likes you and has invested time in recruiting you. You can gently leverage this in your negotiations. Consult your program director or other mentors at this point—they can provide guidance.
If you are uncertain about accepting an offer, be open about this with the employer. Your honesty in the process is essential, will be viewed positively, and can trigger additional dialogue that may help you decide. Juggling multiple offers dishonestly is not ethical and can backfire, as many hospitalist directors know each other.
Have an attorney familiar with physician contracts review yours. Look at whether “tail coverage,” which insures legal actions brought against you after you have left, is provided. Take note of “non-compete” clauses; they may limit your ability to practice in the area if you leave a practice. Find out if moonlighting is allowed and if the hospital requires you to give them a percentage of your outside earnings.
If you secure a position, whether as a career hospitalist or just for a year or two before fellowship, you should be excited. HM is a wonderful field with tremendous and varied opportunities. Dive in, enjoy, and explore everything it has to offer!