Red Flags to Watch Out for in Physician CVs

With every new position that opens up, you’re looking for that ideal physician candidate—the one who has the appropriate skill set for the job, who’s committed to patient-centric healthcare, and who works well with others and is the right fit for the community. You have lots of jobs to fill, so you don’t want to waste time on candidates who don’t have what it takes.

Right off the bat, you want to weed out those physician candidates whose CVs raise red flags. According to the 2014 In-House Physician Recruitment Processes Report released by the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR), these are the top 6 CV red flags among in-house physician recruiters (listed in order of importance):

1. Lack of Board Certification

According to the “Disqualifying Factors During CV Review” chart on page 6 of ASPR’s report, a lack of board certification is the single-most disqualifying factor in a candidate CV. Medical procedures, medications, imaging techniques, and policies change significantly with each passing year. You want to ensure you’re placing a physician who has made a commitment to staying on top of those changes.

“I would never go to a non-board certified physician. Ever.” wrote Jennifer Gunter, M.D., in her “Why I Would Never Go to a Non-Board-Certified Physician” article on “When I hear about OB/GYNs doing plastic surgery, I cringe. I want the doctor who not only did a residency or fellowship in the kind of care I need, but also had to pass some kind of standard testing, not the rogue one who, you know, ‘knows better.’.”

2. High Number of Job Changes

Simply put: no one wants to hire a job-hopper. According to the ASPR data, a high number of job changes is the second biggest red flag in physician CVs, as perceived by in-house recruiters. If you’re placing a lot of physicians who leave after a short time on the job, you’re contributing to disruptions in workflow, patient care, and budget. That’s no good for the patients and hospital, and it’s certainly no good for your professional reputation.

3. Significant Time Gaps

If a physician candidate has significant time gaps in his or her CV, that’s another red flag for you. What was the candidate up to during those gaps? Is there a substance abuse problem, did the individual have trouble with the law, or is he or she perhaps just lazy or noncommittal? It’s certainly possible that extenuating circumstances arose, such as a family illness or emergency, and that is something you’ll want to get a satisfactory answer about, if you do choose to proceed with an interview. According to the ASPR data, however, 67% of the recruiters surveyed would not.

4. Excessive Spelling Errors

This one’s pretty obvious. If a physician can’t be trusted to proof his CV for spelling errors and typos, would you trust him to be thorough on the job? There’s no margin for error in the field of medicine, and a simple slip-up could mean the loss of a life. You’re looking for a candidate who inspires confidence—one who dots all his i’s and crosses his t’s.

5. Residency Change or Gaps in Training

30% of in-house recruiters surveyed by ASPR said that residency changes or gaps in training should be considered red flags in a physician CV. Again, you’re looking for someone who can be relied upon to follow through on his commitments. As with point number 2, above, there may be a good reason for these changes or gaps, and if your candidate makes it to the interview stage, you’ll want to be sure that he or she has a solid explanation.

6. Poor CV Formatting

The in-house recruiters surveyed were a little easier on CV formatting errors—only 14% said they’d consider this a red flag. Still, for some, it was enough to raise concern. As with spelling errors and typos, sloppy formatting may be a sign that the physician either isn’t thorough on the job, or that he or she is simply not all that invested in the position you’re offering.

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