Giemsa

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Dear practicing pathologists:

I'm a path resident who has begun going for job interviews. I have read the numerous the job market sucks/doesn't suck threads, and this is NOT one of those.

I'm asking: what are the questions a resident should ask about the job before they sign, but don't think of? What are the questions you wish you'd known to ask before you took your job?

Thank you in advance,
Giemsa
 

2121115

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Good idea for a thread. I would be very interested as well.
 

Dermbound00

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Seriously, you could ask all the questions you want, but a one or two day interview will never be able to tell you whether a place will ultimately screw you or not. I have seen plenty of people accept what was portrayed as a "good job" and a partnership track and an excuse was made why they did not make partner or the group was sold at a time before the person made partner. The group could tell you one thing during the interview and another at a later time. The most common thing I heard on interviews was the ECONOMY, setting me up for a lower expectation in salary and benefits.

The most important thing in the end is to have a lawyer with experience in pathology contracts review the contract, and give you the dirt on the contract. You can then decide what you can and can't live without.

As discussed on here before, the most important factor for me is: Is this group made of decent people and are they treating you with respect and fairly. I care more about the people and group than about the money and benefits.

You could ask basic things like: Job responsibility...percent of time devoted to AP/CP, number of biopsies/bigs you would be signing out, specimen type (i.e. surgical vs cytology and organ site), do they perform FNAs/bone marrows, tumor boards, what other hospitals would you be covering, what IHC stains do they have, look at the quality of their slides and IHC, frozen sections, what is a typical day like, organizational structure of the group, partnership track, how long to become a partner, what is the buy in, is the position a revolving door, who was there last, why did they leave, how long has the position been open, is the workload split evenly among the group, how do the surgeons/clinicians view the pathology group, how long is the contract they have with the hospital, what is their policy on columbus day, do they get it off? You could start with questions like that.
 
Jul 24, 2009
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Dear practicing pathologists:

I'm a path resident who has begun going for job interviews. I have read the numerous the job market sucks/doesn't suck threads, and this is NOT one of those.

I'm asking: what are the questions a resident should ask about the job before they sign, but don't think of? What are the questions you wish you'd known to ask before you took your job?

Thank you in advance,
Giemsa
First of all, at the risk of being ridiculed by those who drive fancier cars and dress better than I do, I will freely admit that I am an academic pathologist. Hence the points that I raise may not apply to you. If so, feel free not to read my post and I apologize for wasting your time. I guess I will raise this point for those who are going into academics.

First of all, you want to know if the department is short-staffed? If so, this will affect the services that you will be required to do. During your interviews with the director of AP, for example, if you are asked if you are willing to cover services in which you are not an expert, short staffing is likely a problem. I am fortunate to not have taken a job that requires me to cover a service I am not comfortable covering. My job covers one subspecialty and I am not required to cover frozens (hence, no call after hours or on the weekends).

Second, an important question to ask is how much protected time you will be given. If the hospital is short-staffed, you will get less protected time because service weeks need to be covered. Fortunately, my job requires me to be on service 26 weeks per year instead of let's say 38.

Third, you want to know internal research funds. If the department is doing well financially, internal funds for clinical & translational projects will be ample and you can get a nice startup package. My startup was over 200K. Not required to write for grants either.

These are things that you can negotiate. So, this advice applies to everyone. Before you sign the dotted line, negotiate. If you don't ask, you will not receive. Once you sign, your leverage is reduced to zero and you're stuck with what you have. Salary...negotiable definitely.
 
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paleman

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very good points. i would add

meet associate leaving. if noone is leaving find out if someone has left the practice in the last few years and get them on the phone.

get yourself in a position to negotiate a good moving package. sign on bonus can be justified if you can show you are bringing something unique to the practice OR if you are making a sacrafice moving cities etc.

cme $$ can be an axe to grind if you don't negotiate a good package right off the bat
 

2121115

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I am fortunate to not have taken a job that requires me to cover a service I am not comfortable covering. My job covers one subspecialty and I am not required to cover frozens (hence, no call after hours or on the weekends).... Fortunately, my job requires me to be on service 26 weeks per year instead of let's say 38.... My startup was over 200K. Not required to write for grants either.
That sounds like a dream academic situation. I don't think I've heard of anyone getting all that.

Oh, and according to another thread you apparently eat cheap bread and leftovers for lunch and can't afford to treat med students to lunch at good places. :)
 
Jul 24, 2009
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That sounds like a dream academic situation. I don't think I've heard of anyone getting all that.
Life is good. I can't complain. I'm about to close on a half a million $ house too with 20% down. Then perhaps I will start bringing in leftovers for lunch :)
 

coomasie blue

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First of all, at the risk of being ridiculed by those who drive fancier cars and dress better than I do, I will freely admit that I am an academic pathologist. Hence the points that I raise may not apply to you. If so, feel free not to read my post and I apologize for wasting your time. I guess I will raise this point for those who are going into academics.

First of all, you want to know if the department is short-staffed? If so, this will affect the services that you will be required to do. During your interviews with the director of AP, for example, if you are asked if you are willing to cover services in which you are not an expert, short staffing is likely a problem. I am fortunate to not have taken a job that requires me to cover a service I am not comfortable covering. My job covers one subspecialty and I am not required to cover frozens (hence, no call after hours or on the weekends).

Second, an important question to ask is how much protected time you will be given. If the hospital is short-staffed, you will get less protected time because service weeks need to be covered. Fortunately, my job requires me to be on service 26 weeks per year instead of let's say 38.

Third, you want to know internal research funds. If the department is doing well financially, internal funds for clinical & translational projects will be ample and you can get a nice startup package. My startup was over 200K. Not required to write for grants either.

These are things that you can negotiate. So, this advice applies to everyone. Before you sign the dotted line, negotiate. If you don't ask, you will not receive. Once you sign, your leverage is reduced to zero and you're stuck with what you have. Salary...negotiable definitely.
Have never heard of an over 200K startup package at the assistant prof level especially for ANYONE that does not have a record of academically productive work beyond case reports and brown stain studies. How many years is this spread over? Where is this academic position? Have you ever successfully gotten a grant from anywhere? Do you have any publications in any high impact journals that would allow a chairman to hand over 200K for you to play with as a new assistant professor?

Please elaborate....

No offence but have NOT heard of this before so I may be missing some key details.
 
Jul 24, 2009
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How many years is this spread over? 2 yrs.
Where is this academic position? I would rather not say, no offense.
Have you ever successfully gotten a grant from anywhere? No record of K's or RO1s (have not applied for one yet).
Do you have any publications in any high impact journals that would allow a chairman to hand over 200K for you to play with as a new assistant professor? Numerous basic science publications as a graduate student, mostly in higher impact journals. Hence, I do have a record testifying to ability and productivity.
 

Pathwrath

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meet associate leaving. if no one is leaving find out if someone has left the practice in the last few years and get them on the phone.
Yes. The former attending may not be as candid as you'd like, but even the caginess can be useful information. One good phone call can clarify all workload, work atmosphere, and partnership issues instantly.
 
Jun 26, 2009
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No offense here. Please understand, I am not trying to ridicule anyone.

Maybe you are at a top institution where you see different scenario. However, where I am at, not all attendings are as lucky as you. When I saw the 106k salary figure, I started to wonder if that's is why they live certain ways. Another poster in that thread echoed with the dressing like the 80s movie, 1991 Corolla and bread/water lunch and thought those were unreal. I don't think I am the only person to notice this. This may all be superficial, but the bottom line is I just don't understand why pathologists are compensated so differently from the radiologists. I am not a dark room person, but I finally found someone to swap with for a radiology elective this coming month. It's late, but better late than regret.


May I ask, if you were to guess, of those who are going into academic pathology, how many can snatch an position like yours? What percentage belongs to the 85-106k club? How many job candidates actually have any bargain power? How does your package look compared to other young assistant professors in radiology from your institution? I am asking this b/c I am wondering maybe your job deal is better than the rest b/c you go to a better institution. Then a good comparison would be to the radiologist/surgeons from your own institution. Lastly, do you think having too many trainees is the problem? I really hope you don't mind these questions. Apologize to the OP for posting something unrelated to his/her original inquiry….
 
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-Who has left the group in the past 10 years and why? (The best responses to hear are, "no one, except the guy who retired.')
-How is work load spread out?
-How do you decide who covers what? (You don't want to show up and find out that nobody in the group wants to do cytopath and they are counting on you to do it all)
-How do people in the group get along? How are decisions made?

Hopefully you can ask a couple of leading questions (or better yet, they just tell you outright) about compensation and fairness and all that. But not right away.
 

LADoc00

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you could ask all the ?s you want to the employers but if they are scamming you, I doubt the answers will be straightforward...

THE best thing you could do if find all the associates who have left the group and call them directly. I would even advise going to them, wherever they are and meeting face to face. I would strongly advise meeting face to face actually as many people who have been burnt by groups are extremely guarded on phone conversations.
 

deschutes

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How much in CME money are established staff pathologists/attendings getting? Just wondering about the spread, and if it gets bundled into start-up money etc.
 

LADoc00

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First of all, at the risk of being ridiculed by those who drive fancier cars and dress better than I do, I will freely admit that I am an academic pathologist.
I knew the guy who parked his Dodge Dart next to my Porsche at the last USCAP meeting would eventually post here..it was only a matter of time really.

You dinged my passenger door as you were trying to put on your Goodwill-excuse for a sportscoat.

PM me.

TY.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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How much in CME money are established staff pathologists/attendings getting? Just wondering about the spread, and if it gets bundled into start-up money etc.
I don't technically get any, it comes out of my compensation (as pretax deductions). But since the group is private practice that is probably the most equitable anyway, since everything you spend comes out of group earnings. If a group gives you CME money it might be an indication that they have no interest in making you a partner, but I may be wrong about that.

I think that might be true for a lot of private groups - was at a conference where they did a poll and it seemed like the majority of respondents indicated their trip was not being paid for by someone else. If you work for a hospital or reference lab on a salary that is much more of an issue though. They didn't stratify the question based on that.
 
Jul 24, 2009
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I knew the guy who parked his Dodge Dart next to my Porsche at the last USCAP meeting would eventually post here..it was only a matter of time really.

You dinged my passenger door as you were trying to put on your Goodwill-excuse for a sportscoat.

PM me.

TY.
I doubt you drove your Porsche from LA to Boston last year.

I don't drive a Dodge.

GG NO RE K THX!

buhbye
 

2121115

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If a group gives you CME money it might be an indication that they have no interest in making you a partner, but I may be wrong about that.
I have been told that groups give you CME money while you are an employee (pre-partner) but then when you are a partner it all comes out of the same pot so there is no "CME money".
 

cluecells

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How many years is this spread over? 2 yrs.
Where is this academic position? I would rather not say, no offense.
Have you ever successfully gotten a grant from anywhere? No record of K's or RO1s (have not applied for one yet).
Do you have any publications in any high impact journals that would allow a chairman to hand over 200K for you to play with as a new assistant professor? Numerous basic science publications as a graduate student, mostly in higher impact journals. Hence, I do have a record testifying to ability and productivity.
I hope you produce at least one Nature paper per month with the money, otherwise your reappointment will not look so bright. :smuggrin:
 

mlw03

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I'm bumping this up to see if people have anything to add for those of us who'll be applying for jobs throughout this academic year. Any comments recent graduating fellows have about their job interview experience would be appreciated.