What’s the best feeling in the world? It’s a tough question. There isn’t one right answer and chances are you have several things that come to mind.

I feel best when I know I’m helping people. Many share this desire to do something that impacts others in a positive way. It’s a big reason people choose a career in healthcare. That’s definitely true for me.

I oversee our physician recruiting team at HCA and I get to work with people every day, young doctors, who are just getting started in their careers. It’s fun because, early on, I get to help them make good business decisions for their future practice so they can focus on what drew them to a medical career in the first place – helping people.

My team and I run regular training programs for residents and fellows across the country. We’ll meet over 10,000 residents in person over the course of a year! We cover a lot in our training and I’d like to share a few main tenants we teach, with you. If you’re thinking about becoming a doctor or have already taken the leap, here are four things you should know before you get started.

  1. Know What You Want – There are dozens of openings in most specialties.  These could be in rural or urban locations in small groups or large groups and in academic or private practice settings.  To be successful in your search you have to determine what type of practice you really want.  If you don’t set parameters the sheer number of options in your specialty may overwhelm you.
  2. Don’t Rush It – Finding the right practice is just like finding a spouse…. it’s a process.  Allow 9-12 months or more for this process to work through.  Take time to thoroughly investigate the potential practice.  Gaining a proper understanding of the culture, the clinical competence, the call, the pay plan, the history, the technology and other aspects is critical to making the right decision.
  3. Don’t get Stuck – Be aware of the contract you are signing in the new practice environment.  Pay particular attention to the restrictive covenant or non-compete language.  A non-compete could force you to leave the area you just moved to if things don’t work out. This is especially important since over 50% of new physicians change practices in the first 5 years.
  4. Don’t Go It Alone – Obtain the services of a trained legal professional and an accounting professional.  They can act as your advisors and make sure you are making sound business decisions and signing a contract that is mutually beneficial.

Helping others is one of the best feelings in the world. I hope that some of the ideas above were helpful for you whether you’re working to become a doctor or not.

I’d love to hear from you. What questions or thoughts do you have?