Before you decide to accept a physician job offer, you might be filled with excitement, dread or worry. After all, it’s an enormous commitment. How can you be sure you’re making the right decision?

Maybe you’ll get lucky… you’ll apply to your dream organization in your dream location and receive a dream offer. However, most of us have to compromise in some way or another. We decide to live in a place we’d rather not because of family obligations, or we take a pay cut for prioritizing our location over our salary.

While you should try to avoid perfectionist thinking when deciding whether or not to accept a physician job offer, you should try to make the best decision possible.

Below are five questions you must ask yourself before accepting an offer. Whether you have one, three or five offers on the table, the following should help you sort your thoughts and make a decision with confidence:

1) Which physician job offer is the best overall fit?

If you’ve got more than one offer on the table, this is the first question you need to ask yourself. Visit Stage 7 in the Adventures in Medicine Online Resource Library and check out the Prioritizing Physician Job Offers Worksheet to get started. While you’re there, you may also want to consider the other worksheets, which can help you make decisions based on your values, your ideal compensation and your preferred work setting.

2) Will you be able to contribute to the overall success of the hospital/group?

This is an incredibly important question to ask. How do you see yourself fitting in with the organization? Do you imagine yourself as a “wheel in the cog,” or a true leader and catalyst for growth and change? Think about the role you will play in the organization and whether or not it is one that will satisfy and challenge you.

3) Does your spouse or significant other (and children, if applicable) support the decision?

Accepting a physician job offer should be a family decision. If your five-year-old daughter is throwing a tantrum because she’ll no longer live down the street from her favorite cupcake shop, that’s one thing. But if the decision you’re about to make doesn’t sit well with your family for bigger reasons, it’s time to have a serious, open conversation with them to determine the compromises everyone is (and isn’t) willing to make.

4) Will you be able to grow and develop professionally?

This ties back in with question number three. If you were to sign on with the organization, where would you be in five years? Is that where you’d want to be? Make sure you have a good understanding of the organizational structure and the opportunities for advancement. Will you feel mentored and supported? Will you have the resources you’ll need to succeed?

5) Will you be able to achieve an acceptable level of work-life balance?

Given what you know about the job, the organization and your personal habits, do you see yourself being able to achieve a good level of work-life balance? Has your potential employer indicated that they have any programs or initiatives geared to help you in this area? Can you make it a priority for yourself?

And finally…

Sleep on it! When you decide to accept an offer, give it at least 24-48 hours before communicating your decision. This is especially important if you’re choosing between multiple offers.

Can you think of any other questions to ask before accepting a physician job offer?      


To learn more about job selection click Decision Analysis Applied to Job Selection, authored by Terence Reilly, Ph.D.



About Author:

Todd Skertich is the Founder of Adventures in Medicine (AIM), an innovative online media platform designed to present medical residents and job-seeking physicians with high quality career and life planning content and resources.

Also, Todd is the founder and managing partner of Arlington HealthCare (AHC), a physician placement firm.  To date he has facilitated more than 2,000 permanent physician placements and helped negotiate over $600,000,000 in physician starting compensation.