The first place to start is by asking yourself some key questions as you work towards your first staff position. Preferences in location, practice type, subspecialty, group size, etc. all play a role in helping you decide on a job. There is a good chance that you are not going to have the perfect scenario on each of these accounts so determining what is more or less important to you will be helpful. For example, if you are determined to work in a certain city or state you are going to have to be more accepting of other practice variables. Alternatively, if you want to work at a large academic center you may have to be more flexible on location. Discussing with your family or significant other early on what is important to them as well can help to focus your search and establish priorities before you fall in love with a specific position.
Especially in larger groups, there is also an increasing movement towards sub-specialization within pediatric orthopedics and finding a comfortable and exciting niche may be important as well. While there is certainly the possibility of change as you move throughout your career, if you can determine your interests earlier that can be helpful in narrowing your search and ensuring your interests align with your partners’ needs.
The next step is figuring out what groups and institutions might fit your criteria for an acceptable job. If you have strong geographic preferences, it can be helpful to figure out what kinds of care the institutions currently offer and what skills you could bring to the table that would help them. For example, maybe there are no adolescent hip specialists in a region or at an institution and you could market yourself to hospitals and groups there. Many jobs are posted on the POSNA job board or on the institution's web page that can provide excellent opportunities, however, many are also filled without ever being posted. Instead, many surgeons and chairs reach out to their colleagues to fill needed positions. Because many positions are not posted, talk to your friends and mentors as part of your research. They may know of possible positions and people who may be retiring or moving between practices. They may also know about positive or negative issues at other institutions that could be important factors in choosing a job as well. Pediatric surgeons are almost always generous and willing to help with promoting the careers of their friends and mentees.
3. Attend Meetings
If you can attend, meetings are a great time to meet more pediatric orthopedic surgeons. Having folks to introduce you to surgeons from other institutions is obviously incredibly helpful, but being bold and introducing yourself and asking intelligent questions will help not only your own education but also build connections for the rest of your career. Once again, pediatric orthopedic doctors tend to be incredibly welcoming and down to earth and love welcoming residents and fellows to the community. IPOS has traditionally been a time for fellows to meet surgeons at other institutions who may be looking to fill positions. Additionally, people at smaller meetings, visiting professors and even people at POSNA can all provide valuable insight.
4. Send out Applications
The next step is to reach out to groups and departments and send applications to the places that interest you. Many will have a recruiter or HR staff member as your point of contact and may even have a preliminary interview with you. To make these applications as successful as possible it is also important to accompany them with calls from people who can advocate on your behalf if you have a strong interest in the position. Pediatric orthopedic surgery is a small community, and your future partners want to hear from people they trust that you would make a great partner too. It is also helpful for them to know that you are indeed interested in the position and that flying you out, setting aside time to interview you, etc. is actually worth their time.
Now it is finally time to interview and choose a job. It is important to keep in mind throughout this process that both you and your future partners are looking for a good match that will hopefully last for many years. Be prepared with knowledge about the place you are interviewing and the people who will be interviewing you to focus on more interesting and important things about the institution while you are there. You want to learn as much as possible about the institution during your interview and determine if you would work well together with your future partners. Neither you nor your interviewers want to be looking for someone new in two years. After the interview make sure you thank the people whom you can thank, including the administrative staff who helped organize the process. Be patient while waiting for an official response as there are often multiple levels of management that you must be approved through before an offer can be made. During this time, stay in contact with your interviewers, and it may also be helpful to reach out to someone who has recently left the group to get an unadulterated opinion on the institution. Your point of contact for the interviews should be able to share the contact information of prior partners.