In short, your first job is an important stepping stone on your career path. In today’s post, Steven Zahn, MD, Vituity Regional Director and Advocate Sherman Hospital Emergency Department Medical Director, discusses the transition to your first job and shares information about Vituity’s annual Senior Residents’ Day.
Perspectives: Tell us about your own transition from residency to attending. What were you looking for, what challenges did you face, and how did you find Vituity?
Dr. Zahn: After doing some research as a resident, I decided I didn’t want to be in an employed model. I wanted to be part of a fair democratic group that had a very clear partnership track that wasn’t guarded by a group of doctors who held the keys to true partnership. I remember being bombarded by people saying they were a democratic group. Then in doing some research and talking to alumni of Northwestern University (where I did my residency), I realized that there were a select number of groups either to avoid or to entertain, and that allowed me to narrow down my search.
I learned about Vituity through a contact in my residency program. He told me that there was a group that was trying to grow nationally, and they were coming out to Chicago. I talked with them and learned about the democratic partnership and transparency principles of Vituity. I liked the fact that physicians are partners from day one, have a voice in decision-making, and have access to hundreds of physician partners who are invested in your success. It was an easy decision for me. So, I started working for Vituity at Advocate Sherman Hospital outside of Chicago after my residency.
Perspectives: How did you get involved in helping residents and new Vituity Partners?
Dr. Zahn: I first became interested in helping residents because the job search process was difficult for me. When I got into Vituity and realized how straightforward and free from red tape the partnership track was, I felt like I had to at least tell the class behind me and the class behind them.
As I moved into leadership, I realized there are a lot of residents making bad decisions because they’re putting in two or three years with a group and not getting anything out of it. With our group, the advancement track and partnership model is so linear; it just makes sense. I felt like I wanted to help other residents understand that. It made it easy to recruit because I totally believe in Vituity’s model.
Perspectives: Tell us about Senior Residents’ Day.
Dr. Zahn: Senior Resident’s Day is an annual two-day event organized by Vituity for both hospital medicine and emergency medicine residents. The first day offers a glimpse into life after residency with topics that include how to stand out to prospective employers, choosing a practice model that fits your needs, evaluating salary offers, and financial planning. The second day is interview day, an opportunity to meet with Vituity Medical Directors and Regional Directors from practice locations around the country.
Perspectives: What advice do you have about getting the most out of Senior Residents’ Day?
Dr. Zahn: Take advantage of the complimentary learning opportunity and the forum to ask questions and participate in discussions. It’s a chance to learn not just about coming on board at Vituity, but also about topics such as malpractice and customer service. This information is valuable to all residents, regardless of where they land.
Perspectives: Do you have any suggestions about the job search process in general?
Dr. Zahn: During your job search, do your due diligence, but choose the path that is going to be the best for your long-term career. Choose your first job wisely and it’s going to be so much more rewarding as you extend your career. You may be offered a sign on bonus, which may seem very attractive, but there are often strings attached – having to work for a certain amount of years or a certain number of hours. When you examine it closely, it may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
Perspectives: What kinds of opportunities are available for new attendings at Vituity?
Dr. Zahn: Right from the start, there are many opportunities for new attendings. They can start out simply giving training lectures to physician assistants and nurse practitioners to get some experience teaching. As they gain experience, they can move into assistant medical director roles where they learn how to manage and counsel others, and recruit and retain. Then as a medical director, you learn the business side of things, including operations, finances, physician relations, and scheduling. You don’t really get those opportunities at smaller groups and definitely not in the larger staffing companies that are out there.
I believe that I would not be where I am today if it were not for the leadership development and ongoing training I’ve received through Vituity. I’ve basically received an MBA in emergency medicine administration without having to pay for it. You can’t put a price on those opportunities.
Perspectives: How has Senior Residents’ Day evolved over the years?
Dr. Zahn: Senior Residents’ Day was a pretty small event when it first started more than 10 years ago. It’s now a large-scale education and recruiting event in Chicago with more than 100 residents attending. Our recruiting team has done such an amazing job that most of the residents who come through are actively looking for a job. Some of them will sign on that very day or get a verbal job offer at the event. It’s a fantastic opportunity to come to Chicago, meet medical directors from across the country, and possibly walk away with a job at the end of it.
Learn more about Vituity's programs for residents here.