4 Great Early Career Moves for Medical Grads

Congratulations on graduating, or if it’s coming up soon, hang in there and get that medical degree.  We bet you’re looking forward to jumping feet first into the job market, perhaps at major hospital in a large city, especially if you’re eying the pile of debt that you racked up in college. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average 2014 college grad had more than $30,000 in debt, and if you studied to be an MD or attained another advanced degree, your debt could be much higher.

Yes, working on that debt should be an important consideration from the outset, but keep in mind that high costs and a difficult commute could be factors that should be considered when planning the next step. Depending on your situation, there also may be other considerations that make an alternative to a big city hospital an attractive one.

new-grad-healthcare-careersTemp-to-Hire entry level positions

A lot of graduates have lofty ambitions for what their first job will be out of college or medical school. Keep in mind that this is your first job, and it probably is not your last. Understand that there’s a real chance that you won’t like your first assignment. Perhaps the team dynamics are bad or you simply don’t like the group of people you’re dealing with. It might be a high stress environment, or the shifts that you get aren’t what you expected. If you sign a contract that stipulates that you have to serve a certain length of time, you could be stuck there, or if you leave prematurely the chances that they’ll give you a good recommendation are fairly slim.

Temp-to-Hire opportunities can be a great alternative. They offer the entry-level healthcare professional the opportunity to test drive a position without the long-term commitment of a permanent position. Quite simply, if you like your assignment and thrive in the job – and you enjoy your environment – you’ll usually be invited to stay. And if you don’t, you can still retain a great reference from the length of time you worked. It also frees you up to apply to other more competitive positions when they open up.

Leave home and practice in a different state

Yes, the rules of supply and demand apply to healthcare. If you’re in an area that boasts a lot of new grads, you’re not only competing with them for open positions but also with experienced local professionals at the same time. No matter what your specialty or focus, some locations will be more attractive to entry-level professionals than others. In areas where there is less competition for entry-level spots, the competition for the next move up the ladder will also be less.

Despite the fact that you might want to stay close to friends and family, now is the time in your career that you can take advantage of your ability to take your show on the road. If you’re willing to look around and consider moving, there are opportunities out there to make more money and perhaps be on a faster track on developing your career.

Understand where the money is

A real danger in the early stages of your career is getting set one on narrow specialty and getting stuck there. Many graduates don’t realize that some of the highest paying specialties are often the ones that don’t get much attention in school. For instance, Dermatology and Urology can both be very attractive from an earnings power point of view. On average, a Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner focusing on one of these fields can expect to make 20-30% more at the entry level than, for example, Women’s Health.   For this reason, after graduating you need to really consider your career goals. If maximizing your earnings potential is important to you, you might want to consider one of the less glamorous specialty fields.

Different pay in different facilities

If you are considering working at an Urgent Care office as an option, understand that they are known for paying much higher wages at the expense of benefits. For young workers, that can be a good thing. If you’re interested in living in a higher cost-of-living area but want to still make it worth your while – consider Urgent Care. With flexible scheduling and hours, it’s even possible to do double duty at multiple locations. Later on, perhaps after you are married and have a family, the fast reaction skills that you’ve demonstrated will make you an attractive hire to a larger facility with a more competitive suite of employee benefits.

In summary, the large, established hospital in your hometown or a specialty that seems cool might not be the best career decision for recent medical grads. Understand the playing field and know your options and you’ll be well on your way to a rewarding, lucrative career.

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