Physician Career: Will “People Skills” Make or Break Your Future?

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In an earlier post, we mentioned the importance of leadership competencies for a successful physician career. Hospital and group interview practices are hinting at another trend, and that’s the importance of people skills — your overall demeanor, how you interact with others and ways you approach conflict.

Having “people skills” is a basic principle that seems like it would be a given component of any interview. But the fact is, more and more hiring organizations are paying explicit attention to this quality.

In an article for The New York Times, Gardiner Harris detailed Virginia Tech Carilion’s practice of sending its medical school applicants through rounds of “multiple mini-interviews.” Also called the “M.M.I.,” this style of interview requires candidates to conduct short interviews with lots different people (the interviewees that Harris profiled interviewed with a whopping 26).

Sounds pretty nerve-wracking, huh? According to Harris’s story, “at least eight” medical schools in the United States are adopting the same tactic, including Stanford, UCLA and the University of Cincinnati. The purpose of the M.M.I. is to see how physicians interact with different people in different situations — much like they’d be expected to during medical school, residency and practice.

But what if you’ve already been accepted to medical school — whew! — and are more concerned with graduating from residency and preparing for your first job interview?

Even though a potential employer might not put you through the ringer by making you interview with 26 different people, this trend is still worth paying attention to.

Because of the shift towards accountable care organizations (ACOs) and physician employment in larger practices, being a “team player” is more important than ever. Employers won’t just want to hear about your credentials — they’ll be equally interested in how you’ll fit in with their organization’s culture.

As quoted in Harris’s story in the Times, Darrel G. Kirch, President and Chief Executive of the Association of American Medical Colleges said, “When I entered medical school, it was all about being an individual expert. Now it’s all about applying that expertise to team-based patient care.”

Whether you’re a natural team player or not, it’s important to make an effort to show you’re team-oriented during an interview — especially if you’re interviewing with a larger hospital or group.

Start your physician career off right with these interview tips, which send the message that you don’t just care about landing a job — you also care about being part of an efficient, patient-centered team.

Want an Ideal Physician Career? Ask Culture-Related Questions

When you’re interviewing with a potential employer, be sure to ask questions about the organization’s culture. This is beneficial knowledge for you (it will help you determine whether or not the hospital/group is a good fit), but it also shows your interviewer that you’re concerned with team atmosphere.

In addition to asking the basic question, “Could you describe your culture?,” you could also ask about the organization’s leadership structure. Or, ask about the different people you would be expected to report to and interact with on a daily basis. The key is to show interest in how you would fit into the organization as a whole.

Looking to Nail Your Interview? Keep Cool Under Pressure

When an interviewer asks challenging, seemingly aggressive questions, they’re not always concerned with whether or not you’ll get the answers “right.” This style of interviewing (commonly called the “bad cop” tactic), is often a way to see how you’ll react under pressure.

If you find yourself in such a situation, remind yourself that your best answer is important, but your interviewer may be more concerned with your behavior. Physicians face constant stress and pressure in the workplace, and it’s important to show you’re up to the challenge.

What do you think about the trends toward team-oriented practice? Do they make you more excited to start your physician career, or more apprehensive?

Sponsors

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.

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About

Holly Higgins is a freelance writer. She enjoys working with the Adventures in Medicine team and industry experts to create educational materials for residents, fellows and practicing physicians.

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One Response to Physician Career: Will “People Skills” Make or Break Your Future?

  1. Rachel says:

    I think this is a good idea. Doctors have to interact with a wide range of people. Learning to deal with multiple cultures is a must and should be addressed at some point in medical school.
    Rachel recently posted…Parents of Scholars: Your Child Can Earn College Credit by Attending the Congress this November!My Profile

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