One of the traits of hospitalist physicians that can be frequently overlooked is personality! Most readers know that in order to become a physician in the first place, individuals must be smart, hardworking, and very dedicated to their studies and their career trajectory. Surprisingly though, personality traits such as ability to work well with others, ability to put patients and others at ease, and an open yet direct demeanor are also valued and considered when newly graduated physicians apply to their first position in a medical practice or hospital.

New graduates have every reason to feel nervous or a bit unsettled during a job interview, but they should at least try to conquer any fears beforehand so they can make a good impression. Many recruiters or other decision-makers often state that if a physician cannot convey ease and understanding during an interview, they are also likely to have difficulty putting patients at ease. Hospitalists often find themselves in extremely challenging circumstances during their rounds, and they may need to handle critical situations very quickly; having the ability to relate well to patients and put them at ease even during painful or difficult situations is therefore an important skill.

Hospitalist physicians also need to relate well to the nursing and other support staff with whom they will be working. A personality type that is open, easygoing, and yet still decisive is a valuable asset. Nurses and others will not respond favorably to a physician who barks orders at them, or who always assumes an air of superiority. Physicians who are supportive, who listen, and who communicate well with nursing staff will do much better and will be appreciated for their demeanor. During an interview, a newly graduated physician can explain his or her preferred method of communication with nurses and other staff – it may be helpful to elaborate upon the fact that the roles of each support each other and that the physician highly values the input and support of nursing staff.

Although paid time off, tail coverage, and other benefits are important parts of the total compensation package, it is generally unwise to ask about these right away during an initial interview. For instance, a physician who immediately inquires about whether tail coverage will be provided may give the impression that he doesn’t even plan to stay for the full duration of his contract with the employer. That type of signal is definitely not one to send. Likewise, asking immediately for four weeks’ time off to travel abroad to see friends or family is equally unwise, simply because it gives the impression that extended duration vacations are expected. Practices comprised of only a few doctors will have a very difficult time covering the absence of a colleague for four weeks, so interviewees should be sensitive to this point and not come across as demanding by asking for such a long period of time off.

To summarize, physicians who are completing an interview should adhere to the same types of behavior that would be expected in most industries. Confidence, dedication, caring, and good communication are all desirable traits that physicians can demonstrate by being polite, putting everyone at ease, and by giving honest and accurate answers to any questions. If the interview is successful and the physician receives an offer in the form of a long and detailed contract, then it is appropriate to ask more probing questions about compensation, etc. If needed, the advice of an attorney may also be sought to help understand all of the technicalities of the contract. This can also be helpful when several offers are received and help is needed to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each.

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