Deciding to Specialize or Not Specialize Tips

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How can I find a family friendly job in my physician specialty?

Make Physician Specialization Family Friendly

Often when physicians are parents of young children, they want to keep a foothold in their physician specialty, but they want to work part-time. Dedicated doctors – don't despair. Even the highest paid medical specialties have options for job flexibility if you know where to look.

A locum tenens position is a great option for making physician specialization family-friendly. Working part-time allows you to keep your professional skills sharp and enjoy more time as a parent.

A specialty medical staffing agency can help you identify locum tenens or other part-time opportunities for specialized physicians.

Similarly, you may be interested in a locum tenens position if you or a family member has a health issue that prevents you from working full-time. Talk to a physician staffing consultant who knows about physician compensation by specialty, and who knows the employers in your area. He or she can locate jobs that meet your criteria for location, hours and salary.

What are the benefits of having a mentor in my physician specialty?

Make The Most Of A Mentor In Your Specialty

Cultivating a mentor relationship can be an important part of physician satisfaction by specialty. The early years of a medical career can be stressful, regardless of your physician specialty. A professional mentor can help by sharing tips for how to reduce and manage stress, whether your specialty is a fast-paced emergency medicine physician job, or a more predictable internal medicine physician job.

The benefits of a medical mentor include:

  • A role model: Seek out someone whose career you admire and hope to emulate. Ask him or her for advice on what skills you should develop to excel in a particular specialty.
  • An advocate: A mentor can wave your flag when opportunities for promotion or openings in the physician specialty you hope to pursue become available.
  • A listener: Even if your mentor is not in a position to get you your next job, being able to talk to an experienced specialized physician can be valuable.
How can I compare my physician salary to others in my specialty?

Are You Paid What You Deserve?

It's important to keep track of the latest information on physician income by specialty so you can feel confident that your salary is in line with other specialty physicians in your field.

If you are wondering how your salary at your current physician job stacks up, try any (or all) of these four ways to assess your income:

  • Agencies: A specialized physician staffing agency can give you an idea of what salaries are available for other jobs similar to yours, and you may find an opening that inspires you to switch jobs.
  • Organizations: Professional organizations often keep track of the average salaries for their physician specialties.
  • Network contacts: If you have a good relationship with hiring managers at other hospitals or medical facilities, you could ask them approximately what salaries they offer to someone with your level of experience. They may not be able to say exactly, but they might give you an estimate.
  • Online calculators: Online salary calculators are available at various websites, but they don't take into account the intangibles, such as physician satisfaction by specialty, so they should be used as a starting point for additional research.

How do I assess my physician salary by specialty?

Non-Monetary Factors Impact Specialty Salaries

If you are comparing physician salary by specialty and you think you are underpaid, it's important to consider the non-financial factors that contribute to compensation in physician specialties.

Have you learned that your take-home pay in your small town internal medicine job is less than that of your colleague, who practices internal medicine as a hospitalist in a big city?

Keep these points in mind:

  • Schedule: Do you have more flexibility in your work hours, or a more generous vacation plan, in exchange for a slightly lower salary?
  • Location: What is the cost of living where you practice? What will buy you a large home and yard in one part of the country may barely cover a townhouse in another area.
  • Commuter costs: Do you have two-hour drive to work, or can you walk or ride a bike?
  • Benefits: Do you have a retirement plan and health plan that meets your needs? Are you eligible for bonuses?
  • Career satisfaction: Are you happy with the opportunities you have to practice your physician specialty, and are there opportunities for advancement available if you want them?
What are the benefits of part-time work for specialty physicians?

Locum Tenens Offers Alternative To Full-Time Work

Depending on where you are in your medical career, you may be interested in alternative physician jobs with fewer hours and responsibilities than a full-time practice. Locum tenens work is an ideal option for any physician specialty, because there are opportunities to suit any criteria related to type of work, hours, and location. Specialized physicians or those in general practice often consider part-time work as a way to ease into retirement, because they aren't ready to retire full-time for economic reasons, or because they continue to enjoy treating patients but they no longer want the stress of full-time employment.

You can find locum tenens work wherever you currently practice full-time. Or perhaps you spend part of the year in a different location and would like to work part-time there? A specialized physician staffing agency can identify pre-screened job opportunities in your specialty that meet your criteria for work hours and salary.

How can I add to my primary care physician income?

Locum Tenens Work Enhances Primary Care Income

Primary care medicine offers a high level of job satisfaction, but primary care jobs are not the highest paid medical specialties. For example, the average income for an internal medicine physician job is approximately $200,000, according to the 2008 Physician Compensation Survey.

If you want to add to your primary care income, a locum tenens position is an ideal way to do it. You can find locum tenens work in your specialty in a setting similar to your primary practice, or you can use the opportunity of a locum tenens to practice in a different environment. A locum tenens position in any area of physician specialization allows you to choose your hours and location, and it doesn't have to involve long-term commitment or long-distance travel. Locum tenens work can help you meet your financial goals – including paying off medical school loans, saving for retirement, starting your children's college funds, or buying a larger house – while allowing you to enjoy the job satisfaction of your primary care career.

How do I choose a medical specialty?

How To Find The Right Medical Specialty

When choosing a medical specialty, it's important to think about what drew you to medicine initially. When you look at a list of physician specialties, ask yourself questions about your specific interests:

  • Are you intrigued by a specific system or type of illness, such as diabetes, heart disease, or gastrointestinal illness?
  • Do you thrive on the high-pressure environment of emergency medicine, or would you rather be able to get to know patients personally and discuss health issues with them?
  • Do you enjoy caring for children?
  • Do you get professional satisfaction from caring for cancer patients or individuals at the end of life?

The American Association of Medical Colleges offers assessment tools to help you determine what specialty might be a good fit for your personality. Once you have a medical specialty in mind, a specialized physician staffing agency can help you identify positions that meet your career criteria, whether your focus is physician income by specialty, physician satisfaction by specialty, or a combination of both.

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Susan Sayour