To paraphrase Tony Robbins, the quality of your questions determines the quality of your life.
Interviewing for a first attending job, considering a lateral move, or negotiating a contract all require poise, openness, and intuition to arrive at the desired end.
As physicians, we are experts at teasing out the details necessary to make a diagnosis. Digging deeper is critical to saving lives. The same applies to our futures.
Asking quality questions and then peeling back a few more layers determines the ultimate outcomes:
All are essential ingredients. Gloss over the process or hastily accept rehearsed answers, and one can quickly find life and career becoming unbalanced.
Consider asking ‘and’ instead of uttering ‘ok’ and quickly moving on to the next question on your list. If not getting a satisfactory answer, consider that you may be sitting across from a non-decision maker. Asking to consult with a higher source can assure your questions are answered and needs are met. It’s your future, after all.
Ask to see the books.
Quick story. I had the opportunity to consider two positions that were both appealing. One group dug in and put up roadblocks and smoke/mirrors. The other connected me to the medical director. He carved out half a day to show me the facility, teased me knowing my history as a pilot by showing me his Mooney (not money but rather a high-performance single-engine aircraft), and then topped off the day by opening up the ledgers showing me what I could expect to make as a new hire and ultimately partner. The playing field had just been leveled, and I knew what team I wanted to join.
I won’t belabor the typical questions. Instead, I suggest those questions that need to be asked and provide a few twists on the conventional questions:
- Have any partners of physicians been asked to leave?
- What was the due process? (Understanding confidentiality clauses or legal dictum)
- When can I expect to make partner/profit sharing, and what parameters are used?
- Are there any issues with administration and this group I need to be aware of?
- Any major plans for restructuring compensation?
- Has administration requested proposals from other physicians or staffing groups recently?
- How is the call schedule determined? Holidays assigned?
- Any restrictions on side gigs/entrepreneurship
- Are there any provisions for staffing shortfalls? Who picks up the slack?
- What tracks or avenues exist for personal/professional growth?
- Any educational needs or teaching opportunities or restrictions?
- Can I use a scribe or hire a scribe?
- Have there been any billing inquiries or investigations?
- Who codes my charts?
- What is the family leave policy?
- Describe the integration of this group into the hospital structure
- Any internal positions available that my skills might satisfy?
- What EHR system is used and any plans to change that?
- What else do I need to know to make this decision?
- What brought you here?
Without proper questions, you are betting on today at the expense of tomorrow. Probe deeper and discover the full view of the playing field.
Position yourself to claim victory. Your career, and more importantly, your happiness is at stake.