7 Questions to Ask in the EM Physician Interview

If you’re nearing the end of your residency and exploring your options for physician jobs in emergency medicine, it’s essential that you take the necessary time to prepare for what will be a major life transition.

In addition to your clinical knowledge and skills, you will also be expected to learn and understand additional concepts like negotiation of contracts, medical licensing requirements, CME requirements and other regulations that affect your ability to practice at your peak. Entering the actual business of emergency medicine is exhilarating — and perhaps a little intimidating — but you can begin preparing for this new chapter in life before you start interviewing for jobs.

Here are seven questions you should be certain to ask in the EM physician interview:

1. How Much Do You Provide in CME Allowance or Reimbursement?

Bear in mind that CME requirements vary by state, and the costs may be covered in a number of different ways. For example, environments where physicians are employed as independent contractors (which is becoming more frequent in many emergency departments) may not cover CME costs, but instead allow you unlimited conference attendance, for which you take expense write-offs for tax purposes. Other systems may offer a flat rate, like $2,000 per year, which must be considered in the context of salary and other benefits.

2. How Much Vacation Time Will I Receive?

If you are to be a hospital employee, you should expect guaranteed compensation, benefits and paid vacation. You will also want to inquire about how vacation is scheduled and who is in charge of scheduling it. How far in advance will you need to request vacation time?

3. Will I Receive Relocation Assistance?

Emergency physician jobs in the United States vary significantly when it comes to the working environment — from hospital emergency departments to free-standing emergency rooms springing up across the country — and the incentives employers use to attract the best job candidates. On average, medical school graduates in 2016 carried $189,000 in educational debt out the door with them, so relocation assistance is a necessity for many new physicians. Some destinations are more desirable and offer more opportunities, and the amount of relocation assistance you’re offered should make sense in light of that.

4. Do You Assist with Student Loan Repayment?

Sometimes, signing bonuses are used by new docs to pay down student loans, and some employers offer other assistance with paying off student debt. It’s definitely worth it to inquire about the availability of additional assistance. Student loan forgiveness is another possibility and is more likely to be available with emergency physician jobs in underserved locations. Arizona and Kansas, for example, have funds available to help new physicians address medical school debt.

5. Do You Offer a Signing Bonus?

Close to 90 percent of all physicians received signing bonuses in 2016, with an average signing bonus amount of $24,802. A generous signing bonus plus a competitive salary is still one of the most popular ways that hospitals successfully compete for top EM physicians.

6. How Much Is Malpractice Insurance, and Do You Cover It?

Like the cost of living, the cost of malpractice insurance differs depending on location, and your employer may or may not cover the cost of malpractice insurance. Be aware that many group contracts have “hold harmless” and indemnification clauses, and these can add more complexity than you expect to your malpractice insurance situation. If an employer contract contains an indemnification and hold harmless clause, make sure you understand it completely before signing. Consult with an employment lawyer if necessary.

7. What Are the Hospital’s Credentialing Requirements, and How Long Will It Take?

Clearly, credentialing needs to be completed as efficiently as possible, but it can still take several weeks or even months. You can’t bill an insurer for services until you are properly credentialed with them. Therefore, many employers establish your starting date dependent upon successful completion and submission of all required credentialing documents.

The more you know about what to expect in a job interview — and the more you prepare — the more power you have over your future as an EM doctor. Remember that the interview is not only a hospital or emergency clinic’s opportunity to learn about you, but also for you to learn about them.

Ready to start exploring your job options? Visit emCareers.org to browse emergency physician positions today!

emCareers.  An Approved EMRA Benefits Program