If you’re five years or more post fellowship, it’s time to find new references.
While the best references for new physicians are a program director and two faculty members in the specialty you’ve trained in, those sources become less relevant over time because they won’t know your skill level. If you’re more experienced, choose three current references from a mix of colleagues and supervisors.
The employer may ask for specific references for certain physicians depending on your specialty. An integrated delivery system might ask for nursing director of surgery when hiring a surgeon, for example, says Regina Levison, vice president, client development, Jordan Search Consultants, St. Louis. “No one knows surgeons better,” she explains.
If you aren’t told which type of references to provide, Ms. Levison says choose those who really can vouch for how you work and what you’re like as a physician. For example, if you’re a surgeon, choose an anesthesiologist, a primary care physician (PCP) who refers patients to you, and the director of the operating room where you perform surgery. If you report to someone such as a medical director for surgical services, include him or her.
On the other hand, if you’re a PCP, choose a specialist you refer to such as a cardiologist or surgeon, someone who works in the practice or in the community who would know you well, a physician you serve with on a committee, and/or the department head in the hospital who knows your reputation or personality.
Don’t add a nurse or subordinate as a reference, cautions Steve Look, executive vice president of recruiting, The Medicus Firm, Dallas. “It’s not as strong a reference as a colleague.”
While it may seem obvious, be sure your reference is willing to serve as your reference and can speak positively about your qualifications, a step that often occurs after the onsite interview, Ms. Levison notes. When a recruiter or employer calls someone who’s not fully on board—and this happens—there may be pregnant pauses, references who circumvent questions, and even those who are never available to talk.
“We can tell,” she says. “People are busy, but if a name is given as a reference and they know they’re going to get a call, and they’re sidestepping our call, that’s a red flag.”
For more information on creating your resume, see: “Put together your curriculum vitae the right way”, “How to address a work gap on your CV” and “Three hot spots on your CV”