When it comes time to start looking for jobs — and especially when it comes time to start accepting offers — residents start talking among themselves:

“What types of practices are you looking into?”

“Do you have any interviews lined up?”

“What salary range are you going for?”

While a lot of this talk can be categorized as pleasant and helpful conversation, it can easily turn into gossip. Let’s face it: Many residents feel uncertain when it comes to the physician job search process, and sometimes peers can provide enlightenment and tips. But this kind of talk can easily take a turn in the wrong direction — even with people you trust.

Below are the three biggest reasons you should be mindful of what you share during your physician job search process:

1) Each Region and Market is Different

Even if you’re talking with a resident who plans to pursue a very similar job, you should always be mindful of different markets. As detailed in this post, physician salaries vary greatly by location. A physician in New York City will be offered a different starting salary than a physician with the same specialty in rural Iowa.

Aside from location, you have to keep in mind that every job is different. Other things affect compensation and employment arrangements, too, including the size of the hiring organization and the size of the applicant pool.

2) You Don’t Know Both Sides of the Story

It’s easy to get lost in the comparison game, especially when you’re talking to another person who has good news. However, you should always remember that you don’t know the full story, and there’s a chance (sadly) that the person could be exaggerating or lying.

Let’s take a look at three statements and the possibilities of what they might really mean:

“I just signed and I’m getting a $50,000 bonus!”

(Translation: The $50,000 isn’t a cash bonus. It’s documented in the contract as a loan forgiven over five years.)

“I already have four offers on the table!”

(Translation: Four potential employers expressed interest, but only one has actually extended an offer.)

“My attorney helped me rewrite my entire contract in my favor!”

(Translation: Three days later, the hospital rescinds the offer.)

Of course, these are just hypothetical statements. The point I’m trying to make is not that you need to assume all of your peers are lying, but that you need to be careful about what you take at face value.

3) The Decisions of Your Peers Can Negatively Influence Yours

If you spend too much time comparing yourself to your peers, it’s easy to lose sight of what you really want. It’s always important to stay in touch with your own values and priorities as you seek an ideal position.

Besides, there’s always the chance that someone else’s actions could negatively influence yours. Say you talk to a friend who says he negotiated a salary that was 25% higher than the original offer. He tells you what he did, who he talked to and how he won them over.

So you decide to do the same. But in your case, the hiring organization doesn’t just say no — they also rescind the offer and go with another candidate.

Again, this is an extreme example, but it is something that can happen. Above all, you need to be true to yourself during the job search process. For more advice on determining your values and priorities, visit Stage 4 in the Adventures in Medicine Online Resource Library.

Have you ever found yourself caught in the comparison game during the physician job search process?      


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.