Few jobs are perfect, but sometimes one can’t help thinking that the grass is greener elsewhere, and that thought process has led many radiologists to look for a different work environment. And being as 2018 offers an outstanding job market for radiologists, there are many jobs to choose from.
The American College of Radiology’s (ACR) latest survey revealed the number of radiologist job openings increased by more than 14 percent year over year and the most recent Merritt Hawkins research showed the field was among the top 10 most searched specialties in 2017.
Here are some things for radiologists to think about when deciding if it’s time to make a change.
1. Is a Change Necessary? Before looking for a new position, radiologists should think carefully about whether they really want a change.
Christopher Tillotson, president of Consulting Radiologists Ltd., a diverse subspecialty radiology practice with 25 onsite locations and a variety of work environments, says taking a new job is a big deal.
“A job change creates a large disruption in your life as you get to know new partners, new clients, new venues and new technologies,” he says. “A job switch is akin to a divorce and one wants to make certain that you have done everything possible to make it a success before ending it and starting again.”
With over 29 years as a radiologist, Tillotson has recruited double-digit radiologists on an almost annual basis for CRL, and has seen first-hand how radiologists sometimes second-guess their decision. “A large portion of your waking hours are consumed at work,” he says. “Before jumping to a new place of employment, do your homework on the venue and people who will be co-workers.”
2. Make a Wish List: A good idea is to create a list of all the things you hope to find in a new job and list all the things about your current position that you don’t like. Think carefully about what you are fixing and what your priorities are, i.e. geographic location, large venue versus small, flexible work hours, subspecialization capabilities, partner personalities and security of work contracts.
Peter S. Moskowitz, MD, a retired Stanford pediatric radiologist and executive director of the Center for Professional & Personal Renewal, a healthcare career transition coach in Palo Alto, Calif., says most radiologists in practice are keenly aware of the clinical practice issues and management challenges they must face today.
“When considering a practice transition, all they need to do is to make a written list of what their practice values are, what is most important to them in the workplace, and what specific
things they are not willing to compromise on or give up,” he says. “Then this personalized information can be used to compare one practice opportunity to another.”
3. Look in the Best Places: There are many online job search websites for radiologists—job boards operated by national radiology organizations including the RSNA and ACR, according to Moskowitz.
Matthew Brewster, senior vice president of MedSource Consultants, a national healthcare recruiting agency based in Stamford, Conn., says it’s important to talk to different practices and different recruiters to understand a fair value for the area and who is looking.
“Don’t just look online to find your next job,” he says.
Moskowitz says that seeking information from radiologist friends who are in practice or in teaching centers is always a wise option, as well. It is not uncommon for friends to be aware of opportunities that have just become available but have not yet been formally announced or advertised.
4. Prepare: Before meeting with anyone—be it a recruiter or an imaging center or practice leader, Brewster recommends putting together a strong resume and three letters of reference.
“More often than not, organizations and practices are not looking for radiologists for their clinical skills—though those are important—but it’s about how well someone will fit in their culture, and a reference will speak to that,” he says. “I’ve seen too many people not have references ready and that can keep you from even getting an interview.”
5. Consider All Options: Brewster says accepting a position is sometimes a gut feeling. “It’s not always about the practice itself, it’s about the culture and how you fit in.
“Make sure to spend time with those who will be your colleagues and support team and see if you feel as if you can work with them,” he says. “Do they have smiles on their faces or is everyone looking frazzled and don’t have time to talk? Understand the environment you could be walking into by accepting a job there.”
Moskowitz says that if you have been thorough and completely honest in your assessment, it becomes relatively easy to compare one practice opportunity or more to your current situation and determine which offers the best combination of features.
6. Negotiate: Given the bull market for applicants, Tillotson notes radiologists should consider asking for extras like a signing bonus or help with relocation expenses. “The job market for applicants is phenomenal right now—at least in the Midwest, there are many more jobs than applicants,” he says. “Most groups are egalitarian so it is hard to ask for a salary higher than the members currently there. That’s why asking for extras is a smart idea.”
Moskowitz says that using the salary, benefits, or work conditions of a new job setting to extract a better package for yourself at your current place of employment, while common, is a slippery slope which has the potential to backfire badly.
“It is my opinion that if a radiologist wants to use a new offer as a bargaining chip, that radiologist should be fully and completely be prepared to quit his/her current position if the current practice leadership is unwilling to play into the game,” he says. “If you are not fully prepared to pack up and leave, you have no credibility in the negotiation process.”
Moskowitz adds that there is a risk that in using this strategy, the employee may antagonize their current leadership and can potentially poison the relationship entirely, which creates a very uncomfortable work setting should they eventually elect to turn down the new offer and remain in their current position.
“Negotiating is fine, but we tend to ask folks not to play one against the other,” Brewster says. “It’s more about making sure it’s a fair and comparable offer. Consider the culture, environment, and your family, and decide if this is the fit you are looking for.”