The “Beyond the Practice” Series has been created to give you an insight and advantage into the professional side of anesthesia through interviews conducted with leaders in the industry. When starting your job search as an Anesthesiologist, CRNA or Anesthesiologist Assistant you want to position yourself to succeed. In this interview, Somnia Anesthesia Director of National Recruitment, Megan O’Mara, shares with you invaluable information so you are prepared to enter the job market.
BagMask: You’ve been with Somnia for 10 years. That says a lot about the culture of the company. What is it that you love about being a recruiter for Somnia?
Megan: I have been lucky to have had different roles throughout the company that allows me to see and understand the anesthesia industry from different angles. I started in business development then moved over to account management and finally transitioned into recruitment. These experiences have allowed me to become an effective recruiter to help job seekers.
What I really love about my role as a recruiter is connecting with people and really finding out what drives them. That way I can match them with their ideal opportunity. Sometimes it could take a couple of months or years, but there is so much personal satisfaction in developing that relationship and keeping them engaged. And once we find them that perfect fit and they’re happy, you just can’t beat that feeling of knowing you helped.
BagMask: What are your favorite questions to ask that help you match the candidate with the right job?
Megan: I have found that open-ended questions are a great way to start off the conversation. I will ask “Tell me a little bit about yourself?”
It’s a great question because candidates will tell you their life story and from there you can determine what really drives them. Is it that they like to hike and prefer to be outdoors? Are they a mom? Are they looking for more flexibility with their schedule? Do they need to be out at a certain time?
It enables me to learn about the individual as well as dig into their clinical skill set as well. Normally, they start off with telling some personal history and then what motivates them clinically. So it really enables you to open the conversation and navigate it accordingly.
BagMask: As they’re opening up to you and you’re getting their story, what are some things that really stick out in your mind and makes you think “This is a great candidate”?
Megan: Great candidates are those that are diverse in their clinical skill set and able to do everything. I think it’s so important for residents and students coming out of training not to pigeonhole themselves into one specific type of practice. I see a lot of people coming out of school recently that just want to do outpatient or work specific hours.
That ideal candidate is somebody that can roll up their sleeves and do everything; proficient at a variety of cases and anesthesia techniques and open to working different shifts.
Another one that I love to see is the candidate that may not have opportunities to use a certain skill set in their full-time practice, but they pursue another means so as not to lose those skills. As an example, they don’t have OB at their main site but are working per diem elsewhere so they can keep up their OB skills. The desire to find opportunities to maintain their skill sets says a lot about the type of provider they are. Equally important is if they are not comfortable doing something they are open to ask for that education or learning opportunity so they are prepared if placed in a situation that requires that skill set.
BagMask: What advice do you have for providers coming out of training that is often overlooked?
Megan: Do your research. I talk to many providers who want to be in a location and haven’t considered the job market.
Take San Diego as an example. By doing your research a provider will discover you most likely will only find per diem work and, because everyone wants to be in sunny San Diego, you are going to be paid less. It might not be the best place to start a career if you have a significant amount of loans to pay off.
Recently, I was advising someone who was going to take a job in California after finishing training where it takes up to 6 months to get your license. They were training in a state with much faster licensing, so I suggested they stay there and work locums until their California license comes through.
There are great practices in California, but I don’t want a new graduate to be blindsided by issues that can be preventable. It goes back to doing your research and also being open to other options. Maybe start at a rural location and build up your skills, enjoy a low cost of living to pay off your student loans and then take your time to apply for that highly sought-after job location.
BagMask: Is it easy to move within Somnia from one location to another?
Megan: Absolutely, it’s easy to transition. It’s very mobile within our network and we help with the transition and credentialing process. It’s not uncommon for a provider’s spouse to be relocated for a new job. There have been many times that we have been able to transfer the provider to another Somnia facility to where they are relocating.
It’s also a fantastic opportunity for a new grad. Maybe there wasn’t a new grad position open at their desired location with us when they first came out so they take a job with us somewhere else. But then over time, as they are gaining more experience and their original desired position opens up, we can easily transfer them within the network to that spot.
BagMask: That is great to know. What are some other advantages to working with an anesthesia management group like Somnia?
Megan: There’s 24/7 support from the company. Anything that you need, we’re there to help. We can take care of everything, so that they can focus on providing superior clinical care.
Providers also have a unique opportunity to customize their career. There are opportunities for career advancement or the ability to contribute new ideas to the practice. Our owners are anesthesiologists and because we are privately held, if you come to them with a project or an initiative that you’re really passionate about there’s support for it across the board. So it’s really a nice opportunity to work for this company because you can really create your own career path.
BagMask: Last question. What’s your hope for all the job seekers out there?
Megan: That they educate themselves on the market. At a recent conference, I had an interesting chat with both new and experienced providers. What I discovered was that they had a lot to learn about looking for a job and understanding their different options.
It’s really important to educate yourself on the opportunities that are available and the difference between working for an anesthesia management company versus locums agency or being an independent contractor. There are so many different ways that you can work within the anesthesia industry. I’ll say it again, it’s just really important to know all of your options and to investigate as early on as possible.
Talk to your recruiters. Develop a relationship with them. Talk to people at different companies and learn about what they have to offer or what’s it like to work in their group. Call the hospital that you’d like to work for directly and find out who their group is so you can contact them. Do the research so you can learn to navigate the waters of the anesthesia job market.