When it comes to the physician job search process, there’s a lot to stress about. Finding a practice that’s right for you, doing well in your interviews and negotiating a salary that meets your needs are just a few of the major stepping stones on the road to success.

However, there’s one major decision you can make that will help the other pieces fall into place much more easily. The sooner you make it, the easier your life will be.

I’m talking about location — where you want to live and practice.

Numerous surveys reveal that most physicians indicate location as the most important consideration in their job search process. This is for good reason. In addition to having an impact on your quality of life, your location will influence how much you’ll earn and the types of patients you’ll be working with, just to name a couple of things.

However, choosing an ideal location isn’t always easy. What might be ideal for you might not be right for your significant other or your children. Plus, you have to consider physician compensation in different markets and the demand for your specialty.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by choosing a location, but if you ask yourself a few different questions (and write down your answers), your choice can become much more clear.

Below are 10 simple questions that will help you choose a location with confidence:

1. What are your thoughts about your current place of residence? Any likes? Dislikes?

2. How seriously are you considering moving to a different location?

3. If you are serious about reconsidering your location, do you already know where you want to move?

4. If you’re unsure, it may help to rank the regions you’re considering in order of priority. Be sure to consider any family priorities that you and/or your spouse may have. In order of preference, where would you rather live?

  • Eastern US
  • Southern US
  • Midwestern US
  • Western US

5. What size of community would you like to live in? Rank from 1 (most preferred) to 5 (least preferred):

  • Rural
  • Non-metro (fewer than 50,000)
  • Metro 1 (50,000 to 250,000, like Boise or Kansas City)
  • Metro 2 (250,000 to 1,000,000, like Boston or Nashville)
  • Metro 3 (more than 1,000,000, like Chicago or San Diego)

6. Which of these geographic features are important to you? Record all of your answers:

  • Warm climate
  • Cold climate
  • Seasonal climate
  • By the water
  • Near mountains
  • Wide open spaces
  • Right in the middle of everything
  • Other

7. What challenges or roadblocks might you encounter based on your decision?

8. What amenities are important to you?

  • Access to entertainment, fine arts or sporting
  • Diverse dining options
  • Employment options for spouse/significant other
  • Good schools
  • Good shopping
  • Outdoor recreation opportunities
  • Religious opportunities
  • Social and nightlife options
  • Other

9. How would you prefer to commute to work?

  • Drive
  • Walk
  • Public Transit
  • Other

10. What is your maximum acceptable commute time?

  • Less than 15 minutes
  • Up to 30 minutes
  • Up to 60 minutes
  • More than 60 minutes

By answering these questions, you can get a much better picture of where you might like to live. Be sure to talk your thoughts over with your family and make them a part of the process.

What are the main things would you take into account during your physician job search process?    


Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, Alexian Brothers 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 Alexian Brothers is making practice purposeful.