Navigating the Transition from Residency to Practice: A Guide for New Physicians

For physicians fresh out of residency, the jump to practicing medicine on your own can be both exciting and daunting. After years of working under close supervision, you’re finally taking the reins and steering your own ship as a full-fledged attending physician. Congrats!

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This transition brings new responsibilities, challenges, and a whole new mindset to adopt. Following are 7 strategies to help smooth the way from residency to real-world practice.

7 Ways to Create a Great Transition  from Residency to Practice

  1. Clarify Your Goals

Take some time to reflect on your career goals and aspirations. What type of practice setting aligns with your interests and values? Do you want to work in a hospital, clinic, academic institution, or perhaps start your own practice?

Clearly defining your goals will guide your job search and help you make informed decisions about your future.

  1. Begin the Job Search

Begin the search early, utilizing online job boards such as, which list current positions based on specialty and location.

Check out professional networks and connections from your residency. Attend career fairs, conferences, and networking events to expand your contacts and learn about potential openings.

Be sure to reach out to mentors or senior colleagues for advice and recommendations.

  1. Craft a Stellar CV

Take the time to write a compelling CV. Highlight your residency experiences, achievements, and certifications, tailoring the CV to each specific practice you apply to and emphasizing skills and interests relevant to their needs.

How to write a perfect CV

Whenever possible, quantify your achievements using concrete numbers, statistics, and descriptive details. And, be judicious in what you include — your CV should be comprehensive, yet concise and laser-focused on highlighting why you are an ideal fit for the specific position.

  1. Evaluate Opportunities and Prep for Interviews

View an example of job listings for physicians

As you explore various opportunities, consider factors such as location, patient population, work-life balance, compensation, benefits, and opportunities for professional development.

Think about working with a recruiter whose experience and knowledge can be invaluable in helping you navigate the job market.

Assess organizations’ culture and values. If you can, take the time to visit potential locations, meet with colleagues, and ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of what the position entails.

And, highly important, be well prepared for your interviews.

  1. Negotiate Your Contract

Once you’ve identified a promising opportunity, review the employment contract and negotiate terms that are favorable to you. Be sure to seek clarification on compensation, benefits, work hours, call schedule, vacation time, possible loan benefit aid, relocation assistance, and performance expectations.

Consider consulting with a legal or financial advisor to ensure you fully understand the terms and implications of the contract before you sign.

  1. Prepare for Licensure and Credentialing

Congrats on making your way along in this process!

At this point, make sure that you have obtained the necessary state medical license to practice in your desired location. Some states have reciprocal assistance. As of April 11, 2024, 40 states and one territory accept applications for expedited licensure through the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC).

Complete any required credentialing processes with hospitals/healthcare institutions where you will be working. Keep yourself organized and proactive to avoid delays.

Foreign-born physicians may need to obtain an employment-based visa such as the H-1B or O-1 visa for practicing physicians.

  1. Embrace Lifelong Learning

Medicine is a dynamic field. It is constantly evolving with new research, technologies, and best practices. Commit to a philosophy of lifelong learning by staying current with medical literature, attending conferences, and participating in continuing medical education (CME) activities.

Nurture Yourself and Your Career

Finally, take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments and the journey that has led you to this point! With some strategic preparation and the right mindset, you’ve got this.

The tough path of residency has readied you to become a strong, capable, and compassionate physician leader. We wish you the best in your search for a position that’s right for you.

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Career Beat

Written by Warren Goldie