Countdown to Practice Checklist

5 minute read

5 minute read

Welcome to your final year of training! This series will provide a countdown to practice overview checklist, and then will go further in-depth on the various subtopics. The goal of this series is to help you feel prepared to leave training and start your life as an attending physician. Of course, this timeline is merely suggested. Depending on the specialty, you may be starting your job search and your interviews earlier or later.

Nine months from completion

You’ll want to refresh and update your CV. You may not have touched it since applying for residency, so time to brush it off and add to it the additional skills you have acquired during training.

This is also the best time to start your job search. But before meeting with recruiters or checking out websites for physician positions, think about your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves.” Getting a good idea about the ideal position for you will help you to sort through the positions that don’t match your priorities.

Once you have your ideal position priorities listed, it’s time to start researching positions. There are many avenues to find jobs, including colleagues, recruiters, and conferences. Once you know the positions available, doing research can help you to get a sense of how close they will come to your ideal position.

Six to nine months from completion

During this time you will start interviewing for the positions to which you’ve applied. Try not to think of these interviews in the same way you may have thought of interviews for medical school and residency. During job interviews, your goal is not only to be chosen; rather, you are screening each position to see if it’s the right one for you.

Also during this time frame it is important to start putting together a financial plan and thinking about protecting your future income and your family by looking into disability and life insurance. Deciding on debt repayment and savings goals now will be easier than waiting until you have your first attending paycheck. Working with a financial planner is usually worthwhile, as they can help you clarify your goals and help you to achieve them.

After years of training, it’s understandable that you’ll want to do some spending! But having a financial plan in place will make sure that you’re not compromising your long-term goals.

Depending on your specialty, you may also be registering for your board exams at this time. Make sure to check your specialty’s board for dates.

Zero to six months from completion

Now is when you will be receiving contracts for your first attending position. Physician contracts can be extremely dense and worded in favor of the employer, so make sure that you understand your compensation and obligations before you sign.

Remember that ideal position description you already put together? Now is a great time to review that description against your contract and see how your priorities stack up. Contracts are negotiable, and working with a contract review attorney can get your contract as close to your ideal position as possible.

After graduation

If you’ve laid the foundations as described here, your financial and organizational transition to attending should go smoothly. During this time, don’t hesitate to ask for help completing any of these tasks!

From program coordinators to financial planners and attorneys, there are people out there who are knowledgeable in these topics and capable of helping you to complete them. After all, it’s not like residents or fellows have a lot of free time. Don’t be afraid to delegate!