Physician career fairs can be a major part of the residency career track. Although they're not necessarily essential to landing a great employment opportunity, they can nonetheless offer a lot of insight into what kind of employer you want to work for as you transition into regular practice.
Often designed for doctors-to-be (and sometimes for related professions such as physician assistants), physician career fairs offer residents the chance to meet with prospective employers and network with administrators, executives and other healthcare professionals. They come in all shapes and sizes — sometimes held on a large scale and paired with a major conference, trade show or workshopping event, and sometimes just held informally as a way for local recruiters to interact with physicians-to-be.
Most often, though, physician career fairs are often held in convention centers or similarly large event areas. Representatives from hospital systems, practices, recruitment agencies, and similar organizations will be set up in a series of booths — and they'll be looking to meet with prospective physicians to join their teams.
Attending physician career fairs can be extremely rewarding. It can also be hectic, stressful, and difficult to navigate. With that in mind, here are nine tips for getting the most out of physician career fairs.
9 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Physician Career Fairs
1. Register in Advance. Physician career fairs are often structured on one-on-one consultations, typically about 20 or 30 minutes of face-time with a representative from a hospital or health center. To make sure you get the most out of your time at a physician career fair — or that you can even attend, as space is often limited — register well in advance of the deadline and then schedule the meetings that interest you ahead of time, too, to make sure you're not left waiting.
2. Be Prepared. During the registration process, expect to be asked about yourself — specialty of interest, your motivations for working in medicine (and for the type of facility represented at the fair), as well as any other pertinent questions. Also, bring at least five copies of your CV, and a briefcase or bag to carry them — as well as to carry away the materials you're bound to receive.
3. Do Your Homework. You can expect to encounter many organizations at a regional career fair — and even more at a national fair. Find out what facilities will be represented at the fair and learn whatever you can about them in advance — chances are good that this will as easy as a quick online search, which should take you directly to their website.
4. Prepare Questions as Well as Answers. Having answers ready for the questions you're likely to be asked is essential. And it's almost just as important to have questions ready to ask prospective employers and/or recruiters. This includes specific questions for specific employers, but it's also advisable to have a list of more general questions that can be asked of any potential employer, and should relate to important job considerations like the on-call policy, whether or not weekend shifts are expected of you, what the work community is like, and so on.
5. Dress for Success. How should you dress for a physician career fair? Business casual is generally the norm, and full formal wear isn't expected — a suit and tie isn't necessary (but if you're most comfortable and want to make an impression, don't be afraid to go for it).
6. Be Career-Minded. Physician career fairs are often paired with career development seminars offering information on such aspects of practicing medicine as malpractice insurance, loan repayment strategies, and managing private practices. Even though topics like this may not be front-of-mind for you at this point in your career, don't miss the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge that'll be of service to you later. you'll thank yourself later if you enter your career equipped with this kind of knowledge at an early stage.
7. Be Ready for Recruiters. Physician recruiters abound at career fairs, and they'll be looking to make connections with promising residents. Be ready for them! Consult our articles on working with a physician recruiter and working with physician recruitment firms for advice on how to interact with physician recruiters to your best advantage.
8. Be Outgoing! In addition to any meetings you arrange in advance, don't be afraid to mingle! At the end of the day, you may find that the most promising connections you've made are from those fellow attendees that you met spontaneously on the conference floor, or by random booths you approached on impulse. Remember, they want to talk to you — that's why they're there in the first place. (And they'll usually have free stuff to offer for the chance to network with you — at least, Staff Care usually does!)
9. Follow up. Make sure to follow up with the people with whom you had the promising productive conversations. And if you came away from the fair truly interested in working with one of the organizations you encountered there, let them know — send them a thank you email or note expressing your gratitude and your interest. Let them know you're available to continue the conversation, and if it feels appropriate, set up a lunch date to continue your relationship.
Are you a medical resident or fellow interested in getting your physician career off to the best possible start? We encourage you to sign up for Staff Care's New Physicians program for exclusive, insider tips, resources and job alerts customized to your interests and preferences. It's never too early to begin charting your future career path!
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