The Physician Site Visit: An Inside Look With Dr. Goodhook

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Dear Dr. Goodhook,

I have one physician site visit scheduled for the near future, and I expect to have at least one more lined up soon. The hospital’s recruiter gave me a partial itinerary, but I’m still a little nervous — what should I expect? And is it really OK if my spouse and family comes along? I don’t want to make a bad impression.

Sincerely,

Confused in California

Dear Confused,

Take heed: What looks good on paper isn’t always as enchanting in person. A physician site visit is a chance for you to see the substance of your employer beyond the sheen of a glossy brochure page.

A physician site visit can be an all-day (or even multiple-day) event, and no two organizations follow the exact same schedule. Turn to your recruiter for a specific itinerary and any detailed questions you may have.

However, there are several things you should always consider before a physician site visit, no matter the itinerary. Below are several key pointers that will help you through any physician site visit. Prepare, dear friend, to be exhausted:

1) Remember: You’re Evaluating the Community, Too

A site visit isn’t just an opportunity to see if you’re a good match with an organization — it’s an opportunity to see if you’ll fit in with the community, too. Don’t be surprised if your recruiter offers you a tour of the area with a realtor. It’s their job to make sure you’re comfortable with the area and your decision.

Since family plays such an important role in community evaluation, many organizations encourage candidates to bring their spouses (and in some cases, their children) to the site visit. However, always be sure to ask. Even if your family does accompany you, you should attend any formal interviews alone. Even pediatricians don’t appreciate wailing babies in the background when discussing the subject of patient-centered care.

2) You’re Always Under the Microscope

A physician site visit is likely to consist of several parts — some of which seem like a traditional, formal interview, and others that seem completely casual. Whether you’re out to dinner with potential colleagues, touring the city with a realtor or sitting across the table from the Chief Medical Officer, always strive to make a good impression. Everything you do can (and will) be evaluated.

3) Enjoy Their Dime, But Don’t Go Overboard

A physician site visit is typically paid for in full by the hiring organization. Typically, this includes transportation, lodging, meals and other accommodations. Some organizations pay for everything up front, while others will provide reimbursements upon receiving receipts.

This is something to discuss in greater detail with your recruiter. However, you should always be mindful of your spending. Don’t purchase alcoholic drinks on the employer’s dime (unless they very specifically offer), and decline upgrades to rental cars, hotel suites or other accommodations. It will always work in your favor to be gracious, modest and unfussy.

4) Ask Questions and Follow Up After the Physician Site Interview

One of the best ways to strike a good chord with your interviewers is to have plenty of questions prepared in advance — this is a basic component of good physician interview etiquette. For ideas on questions you could ask, revisit the post about critical questions to ask when evaluating a practice.

Finally, don’t forget to follow up when you get home. Send any key personnel — including your recruiters or interviewers — a well-written email thanking them for their time, and, if applicable, your interest in the job.

Do you have any tips for a successful physician site visit? 

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About

Dr. Goodhook was once a stubborn, talented young resident. After 50 years of practice, the old curmudgeon still has fire and irreverence in his veins. His wit and insight are legendary, as are his field notes, collected along the path of his life.

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