Here senior residents provide salient insights into the unique challenges of navigating the post-residency job search and planning for life after residency in the midst of a global pandemic.
Q: What has this academic year been like as far as determining your post-residency plans? Are you searching for a job, further training, opening a practice, or are you pursuing another route? What steps have you taken so far to accomplish this end goal?
The panelists’ individual plans for their pathway after graduating residency did not change over the past year, despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they each relate unique experience in pursuing that path as their last year of residency training comes to a close.
Jacob Carmichael, DPM shares that he began looking for his post-residency position in October of 2020 and is still actively involved in the interview process.
“As far as additional training goes, I think I’ll get the most benefit from getting out there and doing things on my own, though continued education through courses and conferences is still going to be important to me moving forward,” he says.
Matthew Lining, DPM relates that he always knew that he wanted to transition directly into a private practice or group setting after completing his three-year residency training program.
“I reached out to different connections I made with attendings and found a situation that best fit my needs,” he explains.
Mena Shafiek, DPM also has sent his curriculum vitae (CV) to several practices in the area he is interested in, along with contacting former residents and colleagues from podiatry school about potential job leads. He points out, however, that this academic year posed specific challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With all the safety precautions in place, it limited the number of patients we see daily and slowed down our productivity,” he says. “Our program is not trauma-heavy; we are more elective/reconstructive oriented, so by limiting the number of patients we see in clinic it greatly reduces the number of cases/learning opportunities. With that being said, I do strongly believe I have a solid foundation from my residency training to go out and practice.”
Q: Speaking of COVID-19, how else do you feel that the pandemic has affected the job process?
Dr. Lining says, in speaking with newer attending physicians, the consensus was that there seemed to be a decrease in the amount of quality job postings and available associate positions in this year compared to in the past.
Dr. Carmichael agrees that COVID-19 seems to make the job search process a lot slower than anticipated.
“I noticed that a lot of positions are only recently starting to open up,” he adds. “I definitely see a big difference in the amount of job postings out there now compared to when I started looking back in October.
Dr. Shafiek shares another theory about post-graduate job availability over the past year:
“Practices who were looking to add an associate a year ago may no longer have the need to do so,” he shares. “I think it comes down to people staying indoors during quarantine and being less active, so that their foot and ankle ailments resolve on their own. Less people playing sports, hiking and other activities that might exacerbate their pain.”
The COVID-19 pandemic does make the overall job search process more challenging, according to Dr. Shafiek. He cites one example of this being the significant decrease in networking opportunities usually afforded by conferences and educational meetings, with online versions of these gatherings making the connections more difficult.
Q: What advice would you give more junior residents about this process? What do you wish you had known earlier?
Dr. Carmichael advises future job-seeking residents start the process early, take their time and try to not stress out about it. He adds that it might also be helpful to talk about the search with other residents in order to gain a sense of camaraderie and shared experience during a stressful time.
“Just because residency ends June 30th for most of us doesn't mean you need to start working your next job July 1st,” he says. “Take your time to find what's best for you moving forward.”
Focusing on interpersonal connections is a vital part of the process, according to Dr. Shafiek. He advocates for a junior resident to expand their network by attending conferences and various meetings to meet other physicians that may be able to help in the job search.
“Hopefully, in-person conferences will resume and travel restrictions will lift soon,” he says. “That could make this process a bit more enjoyable and less stressful.”
Dr. Lining also counsels that it is never too early to start planning for life after residency.
“Also, if you have a specific geographic region in mind in which you would like to practice, mention this to attendings that you work with,” he says. “Podiatry is a tight-knit group, and you never know who has a friend or classmate in different areas.”
Dr. Bernstein is the Director of the Podiatric Residency Program at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Dr. Carmichael is a third-year resident at East Liverpool City Hospital in East Liverpool, Ohio.
Dr. Lining is a third-year resident at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.
Dr. Shafiek is a third-year resident at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.