By: Shannon Patterson, CPR, CMSR
Partner, Kolbe Certified™ Consultant
When a potential employer and/or partner is interested in you, chances are you will be invited to visit the practice. Whether it is your first opportunity post-residency or you’re moving on from a previous opportunity you need to make the most out of the site visit. You should know a few basics and questions to ask about the practice and community to ensure you find the right opportunity in the right place.
When, What, and Who?
As you share with co-residents you will quickly realize that no two site visits are the same. It will be up to you to do some homework before the visit to ensure you get the most out of it. Understanding the three basic W’s – the when, what, and who will help you prepare for the visit.
When Does a Visit Take Place?
Typically you are invited to visit a practice after initial conversations with a potential employer and confirming you both are interested in moving forward. At this point, you should understand the position and have a genuine interest in the practice and the community in which it is located. I have had candidates visit practices as early as their first year of residency if the practice meets their goal parameters and is located in their geographical area of interest. Most potential employers, especially those offering a path to equity, are looking for a person who can adapt to their practice culture and they are definitely willing to wait on the right candidate.
What Does the Visit Include?
A site visit is designed to showcase a practice and the community and what it has to offer a candidate in a very short amount of time. We highly recommend an overnight stay to maximize the visit. Most of the time the visit is tailored to each candidate but has a standard format which usually includes additional interviewing with the doctor, meeting with the team, clinical shadowing, touring the community, dinner with spouses and possibly a social event in the community. We also recommend meeting with a local realtor if you feel strongly that you will accept the position.
Who Should Join You?
Although it is you the practice is interviewing if you are married your spouse will likely have a very important role during the visit. Orthodontic practices typically are very involved in the communities they serve and want to ensure that you and your family will feel comfortable and welcomed. Spouses are often the number one reason candidates reject a job offer especially if the spouse did not attend the site visit. One of the most important parts of the site visit is to envision yourself and your family living in the community where the practice is located. The second part of the “who” question I often hear is “who” pays for the site visit? A potential employer should pay for you to visit the practice. That usually includes airfare, hotel, and a rental car. It is customary that the potential employer reimburse you for travel expenses after the site visit is complete but some employers offer to make travel arrangements for you; either is fine just be sure to get a plan in writing so you understand what will be covered.
Remember your goal on a site visit is to gather as much information as possible about the clinical position, the practice culture, and its alignment with your own values, and the surrounding area and whether it will meet your social needs. At the end of a site visit, you should confirm that the opportunity has the right culture, the right team, and is located in the right place for you to start a successful orthodontic career.