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How To Pick Your Dream Job On the First Try

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

Residents all over America are searching for their first attending job upon graduating this summer. Because many do not define what their ideal job looks like, they are more likely to end up unhappy and searching for another job in a couple of years. 

Changing jobs is not only a big life stressor, but is also very expensive. Avoiding another job hunt and move by picking the right job the first time is a great financial and life advantage. I remember the story of one friend who changed jobs at a cost of $175,000, not an unusual sum. Many doctors complain about their large student loans but don’t even notice the huge cost that changing jobs entails: buying and selling houses, time off for job interviews, travel expenses, lost vacation time, moving expenses, malpractice tail coverage, license and credentialing fees, and much more.

The stress of a job change includes finding a new job, learning the ins and outs of the new facility, leaving friends, the kids changing schools, changing your personal physician and dentist, finding a new church, establishing a new presence as a physician, finding a new house, and moving all your belongings, to begin.

If you are beginning your job hunt, here are six things that will increase the chance you will love your job for a lifetime. You will realize that salary is not one of the deciding factors — the job being the right fit is.

Own or Be Owned

Owning your own practice will involve running the business (unless you will have partners who are already running the business), including hiring and firing personnel, looking over the books, and decorating the office. You will also be the one setting your own schedule and making all the profits. 

Employed physicians will not have an office to run. They will need to ask permission for time off and will get paid based on their contract and lose control of their time among other things. Their employer will be keeping a portion of the profits generated.

Be sure you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses to determine which model will make you happiest. Don’t just follow the herd, decide which is best for you. Who controls your life is the factor that is most divergent between the two models. 

Partners or Solo

Do you want to be alone or work with other physicians in collaboration? I wanted very much to have partners to work with, discuss difficult cases, and share call. Others want to be on their own and have a monopoly in their field. Which one are you? A person who loves working with others will feel very lonely if they are the only person in their specialty in town.

Academic or Community

This is a very important decision that is not given enough weight. If you choose to be in a tertiary referral hospital, the cases you will be seeing are very different than what you would experience in a community practice. Do you like the bread and butter cases or do you like the difficult challenges? Do you want long term relationships with your patients, or would you prefer to send them back across the state to their primary doctor after completing their treatment?

Proximity to Family

How important is it for you to live close to your parents or other family members? Alternatively, you may want to be as far away as possible. Do you want your children to have a close relationship with their grandparents? Would you like their help with babysitting?

If going home for Thanksgiving requires a set of airplane tickets, you need to factor in that cost when considering the job. You also may choose to skip a visit for the same hassle and cost factor. My wife and I live between our two families which are only four hours apart. That location, in between our families, was a job requirement for me.

Special Interests

Do you have any special activities you love to do? Do you need to live somewhere special to do them? If you love to ski and want to do it every other weekend, Colorado would be a better choice than Florida. If you love to surf, you should live near the beach. 

Think about the things you love to do and be sure you will be able to do them easily with your new job location. If not, you will either give up your hobby and be unhappy, or you will decide to move where the hobby is easily accessible. 

By paying close attention to what you really want in your life, you are very likely to find a great job the first time. Define your wants and needs for your dream job and only look at jobs that meet your specifications. Don’t just pick any job to get started. You have worked a long time to get to this spot in your life, so pick a job you will love doing for the rest of your life.

Working through these issues, and any others you feel are important, will not guarantee you the right job the first time, but it will dramatically increase the odds of success. If you start your journey pointed in the wrong direction, you will not like where you end up. Take the road to success the first time.

Dr. Cory S. Fawcett can be found blogging at and his award winning Doctors Guide book series is available on Amazon. He is a 2019–2020 Doximity Fellow.

All opinions published on Op-Med are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of Doximity or its editors. Op-Med is a safe space for free expression and diverse perspectives. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email

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