When it comes to your physician job search, there are all kinds of reasons to procrastinate. “Residency is too overwhelming!” “I don’t have enough time!” and “I’d rather wait until later, when I have a better idea of my priorities” are all semi-legitimate excuses.

But the fact is, waiting too long to start your search can have serious consequences.

Dr. Kenton Lee, Program Director for Family Practice Medicine in Rockford, Illinois recommends that residents start their physician job search process during their second year of residency.

Maybe that seems a little early, but you have to remember that the search process involves a lot more than scouring the Internet for job openings. In addition to compiling your physician CV and references, you need to think about your overall priorities (i.e. where you want to live and what type of organization you’d prefer to work for).

That’s just the tip of the iceberg — for a detailed (and handy!) checklist of physician job search action items, check out the Job Search Timeline Stage in the Adventures in Medicine Resource Library.

Let’s look at a few reasons to get started with your job search process ASAP. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once — focus on breaking tasks up into manageable chunks.

1) A Late Start Means Missed Opportunities

If you wait until the last minute to start your job search, it’s likely you’ll miss out on great opportunities. Even if you’re under the impression that there are more than enough jobs in the area you want to look, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Other candidates will sign contracts early, and you might be left with few options.

2) A Last-Minute Physician Job Search Actually Takes Longer

It seems logical to put off your job search because it will take a lot of time. While that might be true, the job search process can actually take longer if you get a late start. There might be delays with your references or licenses, and because of a more limited opportunity pool, it could take you much longer to find the right fit. Starting early and breaking the process up into simple action items will save you lots of time in the long run.

3) You Might Not Be Able to Start Working On Time

Even if you end up landing a job during a last-minute search, you might not be able to start work right away if you haven’t completed state licensing requirements. This is an especially important consideration for residents who will be practicing in a new state after graduation. It’s better to start early and get those licensing requirements out of the way. Make it easier on yourself by making your transition as smooth as possible.

4) A Hasty Physician Job Search Can Throw You Into Panic Mode

If you’re a procrastinator by habit, you know the dreaded feeling that comes when you put something off — you wait until the very last minute, then make push-button, emotional decisions when you absolutely have to. This is not the way to approach your physician job search. Panicking and taking a subpar position leads to more unhappiness, burnout and panic down the road. Starting your search earlier will allow you to make informed, confident and logical decisions.

5) Starting Early Allows You and Your Family to Envision an Ideal Life

Whether you’re single or you already have a family, it’s important to define your values, goals and ideal life vision. This is one of the most important parts of your job search, but when you have a family, it’s especially important. Having conversations with your significant other and children about lifestyle expectations and location preferences should be one of your top priorities. The earlier you have those conversations, the sooner you’ll be on a path toward realizing your ideal job and life.

Can you think of any other reasons to start your physician job search early?   


Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, Blanchard Valley Health supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that Blanchard Valley Health is making practice purposeful.