If you’ve ever been to a conference or physician career fair, you know that it’s sort of like a real fair (the ones with animals, balloons and cotton candy). There are dizzying amounts of people, lots of booths and tons of free giveaways. If you’re lucky, you can probably find popcorn, too.

While it might be tempting to sit back and people watch, conferences and physician career fairs are excellent places to scope out potential employers and get a handle on your job search. If you’re even a bit shy, career fairs and conferences can be intimidating. But, if you have a mission and arrive prepared, you can alleviate much of your stress.

What to Expect From Physician Career Fairs and Conferences

Usually, physician career fairs and conferences have a large number of organizations representing. This is especially true at national conferences, which often attract organizations and physicians from around the globe.

In addition to the people you meet while networking, there will likely be booths set up for hospital systems, smaller practices, recruitment organizations and other career service-oriented firms. Most will be very prepared to answer both general and specific job-related questions.

If you find yourself feeling shy, remember, they want to talk to you — that’s the whole reason they’re participating in the conference.

How to Utilize Your Time Effectively

One of the first things people think about when they’re going to a conference or physician career fair is how they should dress. Typically, you aren’t expected to wear a suit and tie — business casual is usually fine, especially if the conference is held in a resort or destination location.

If you’re aiming to make your best first impression, it never hurts to dress up a little. (You could meet your future employer — you never know.) On that note, you can also scope out pre-event literature if you’re interested in connecting with specific hospitals or groups. Learn where they’ll be so you can prioritize your rounds.

Another thing that plays into your appearance is a bag. That’s right — a bag. Most people don’t think about it until they’re at a conference, but with all the materials you’ll receive, you’ll want a way to carry them all. Most conferences provide these, but some don’t, so it’s best to come prepared.

Bring at least five copies of your CV, even if you aren’t “seriously” looking. You might come across an employer with just the right job, and being prepared and professional is crucial.

Finally, come up with a list of questions before you attend. Formulate broad questions that are both job and lifestyle related. While you might ask a potential employer how many weekends you would be expected to be on call for a certain position, it’s equally important to ask about the community.

Write your questions down on a piece of paper or store them in your smartphone. You don’t have to pull out your list and read questions to every person you talk to, but you can refer to it if your mind goes blank.

What to Do After a Physician Career Fair or Conference

If you made any inquiries about particular jobs, be sure to follow-up after the conference within three business days. Send a thank-you note and ask to talk further about a position if applicable.

If you received any interesting literature, be sure to hold on to it — at least until you’re finished with your job search. It could help you make connections as you prepare for your first job.

Do you think physician career fairs and conferences are a good way to approach the physician job search?  


Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, Bothwell Regional Health Center supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that Bothwell Regional Health Center is making practice purposeful.