These residents discuss what they plan to do after residency, how residency directors have helped them find job opportunities and what kind of insights they have received on contract negotiation.
As you are finishing the first half of your senior year, have you thought about what you plan to do when you graduate? What type of podiatrist do you want to be and what kind of practice do you want to join?
For Tayyaba Hasan, DPM, ideas for post-graduate plans began evolving as early as her fourth year of podiatric medical school and her plans have come further into focus as she has progressed through residency.
“I believe it is important to begin formulating your career goals early and to train at a residency program that complements those aspirations,” says Dr. Hasan.
Early in her third year of residency, Dr. Hasan says focusing on her five-year career goal was essential in helping to define what she is looking for in her job search. Her major overarching goal is to provide reliable and compassionate care to the community in a private practice setting that has a variety of surgical and nonsurgical pathology. Her priorities are to find “a practice that values my training and works on a basis of camaraderie and respect.”
Wesley Jackson, DPM, signed with a practice during the first month of his senior residency year and considers himself “very fortunate” in this regard. Before committing, he took a lot of time to consider what he wanted following his residency.
“I didn't want to limit myself past the existing legal limitations we have within our podiatric profession,” says Dr. Jackson. “From a business standpoint, this allows you to maximize your schedule in the office for all foot and ankle issues. From a medical standpoint, it allows you to maximize the training and education you received to serve your community better.”
After graduating in June 2019, Melissa Rossi, DPM, will be starting a fellowship in the early fall with Ralph Naploi, DPM at Active Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Hackensack, N.J. She wanted to do a fellowship because she believes fellowships “are becoming more important in the advancement of our field and I wanted to be a part of that movement.”
After completing her fellowship, Dr. Rossi plans to join a busy podiatry or orthopedic practice with high surgical volume so she can obtain board certification within a few years. She would also be open to a full-time hospital or university position if the opportunity presents itself.
“It has never been my goal to open up my own practice simply for the fact that I would like to start out working under someone who can mentor me from the business side of things,” says Dr. Rossi.
Similarly, Dr. Hasan is not interested in starting her own practice, but hopes to join a practice in which she can make suggestions and modifications to practice management, growth and office culture.
Dr. Jackson wants to join an existing podiatric practice and wants his transition from residency to the office setting to be as easy as possible. Joining an established practice lets him focus more on the medical practice aspect as well as the specific billing/coding that accompanies patient encounters.
“There is just too much financial risk and investment in addition to the massive business burden of starting a practice for me currently,” says Dr. Jackson.
In addition, in joining an existing podiatric practice, Dr. Jackson says he will be surrounded by staff that is more efficient and better educated at dealing with daily podiatric problems. As he says, the practice is already equipped with the podiatric supplies necessary to treat patients. He notes the practice’s billing department is already familiar with the podiatric specific coding and insurance protocols.
“You are also surrounded by like-minded physicians who can be available for advice or counsel,” maintains Dr. Jackson.
Do your residency directors actively get involved in helping you to find a job? Do they write letters of recommendation or make phone calls to help you find job opportunities?
All three panelists says their residency directors have been active in helping them find positions.
Dr. Jackson cites his director’s “extremely strong presence and connections within the region of our residency program.” He notes many of his program’s past residents have stayed within the area or continued with the same hospital system because of the program director’s connections and help.
Dr. Jackson says his residency director will write a letter of recommendation or make a phone call on the resident’s behalf. “He will make it his mission to get you the job that you are seeking if you ask him to,” says Dr. Jackson.
Dr. Rossi says her residency director, Keith Cook, DPM, FACFAS, has been very active and involved throughout the process of trying to find a job/fellowship. From midway through her second year, she notes Dr. Cook has been dedicated to helping she and her co-resident by reviewing their CVs, talking to colleagues about potential job openings, and by making phone calls on their behalf.
Dr. Rossi says Dr. Cook wrote her an “outstanding” letter of recommendation, which she says was “a great asset and strong addition to my fellowship application. I am forever grateful to him for the time and effort he has dedicated to me and my future.”
Dr. Hasan’s residency program director has written letters of recommendation for residents to help find job opportunities and has always encouraged residents to pursue their personal career endeavors. As she notes, a great asset of the program is the diversity of attendings who have trained at various programs, providing residents with a wide cumulative network. Furthermore, Dr. Hasan notes her program’s senior residents have always been very forthcoming about their job search, career considerations and contract negotiations, calling previous residents “a constant source of guidance and support in our job search.”
Dr. Jackson recalls the program director taking one of the residents around to every physician he knew at a national conference to introduce the resident in the hope that a connection would happen, and it did happen.
“Most residency directors are in that position for a reason. They have a great influence of connections to help you find your desired job,” says Dr. Jackson. “Ask them for help. They will make job searching a lot easier.”
Does your program offer you lectures and training in contract negotiations? Are you allowed to take time off to travel and interview for jobs or to take other state boards for licensure?
Dr. Hasan has had a few lectures on the topic of what to expect in the third year of residency with a focus on boards, licensure, job securement and contract format. Although the program has not formally addressed specifics in contract negotiations, she says the program has “remarkably involved” attendings who will review residents’ contracts and provide their advice and suggestions.
At Dr. Jackson’s program, residents must attend multiple lectures on contract negotiations each year in addition to lectures on future benefits, disability education and billing training.
Every year in the spring, Dr. Rossi says Dr. Cook invites Michael Quinn, DPM, Esq., to give a lecture to the residents about contracts. Furthermore, she notes Dr. Quinn also is a valuable asset to the residency program by making himself readily available to the rising third-year residents. For several years, Dr. Rossi says Dr. Quinn has reviewed employment contracts for the senior residents for a very small fee.
Dr. Hasan’s program offers a “generous” four weeks of vacation per academic year and the program encourages residents to take full advantage. The third-year residents typically save a portion of their vacation days to travel for job interviews, fellowship visits and state boards, according to Dr. Hasan. Additionally, she notes the requested days off for interviews or licensure have a priority in approval for vacation days.
“Our residency culture values camaraderie and teamwork. If a resident needs to take off for his or her job search, the residents and attendings will work together to ensure adequate coverage,” says Dr. Hasan.
Similarly, as long as the residents’ coverage for hospitals does not suffer and the director approves the time off, Dr. Jackson says he and his co-residents are allowed to take off as much time as they need for job-related reasons, including travel and interviews. Last year, he took time to get two different state licenses without any issue, noting the program has no issues with excusing residents to obtain other licensing needs.
Dr. Rossi says she and her senior resident have been “extremely fortunate” that they can take time away from work to travel for interviews and take board exams. She says Dr. Cook and the other attendings “are very understanding of the process as they were each once in our shoes and allow us to take as much time as we need within reason.”
Dr. Hasan is a Chief resident in the Podiatric Surgery Program at Hackensack Meridian Health at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune City, N.J.
Dr. Jackson is a Chief Resident in the Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Program at Main Line Health in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Dr. Rossi is a Chief Resident in the Podiatric Surgical Residency Program at University Hospital in Newark, N.J.
Dr. Bernstein is the Director of the Podiatric Residency Program at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Wayne, Pa. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.