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Cardiologist Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 25

Are you going to be doing any chronic pain care?

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Cardiologist Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Are you going to be doing any chronic pain care?

      This answer is simple if you don't plan on managing chronic pain, but if you do, your interviewer will want to know to what extent. The opioid crisis makes for bad press from overdoses, and institutions and groups want to steer clear of the whole controversy--not to mention scrutiny from the DEA and your state board. Before your interview, you need to know that you are being asked this to see if you're overstepping into controversial practices.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "As a physician involved in cardiovascular medicine, the only pain I deal with is acute pain of cardiac origin. In such an acute setting, I plan on prescribing according to my patient's need and within a hospital environment, but it is the cause of the pain that is threatening the patient, not the pain itself. Therefore, I simply won't be treating chronic pain, which should be managed by a rheumatologist, physiatrist, anesthesiologist, or other pain management specialist."

  2. 2.

    Many third-party payers are now basing reimbursement on evidence-based medicine. Do you agree this is the best way to practice?

      This is a trick question. The cliche that medicine is an art will always apply when judgement is necessary, not to mention the impact of a particular skill of a diagnostician or the technical prowess of someone doing procedures. But it is true that 'evidence-based medicine' is probably here to stay. Unfortunately, it is Gaussian and doesn't take into account the outliers of the bell curve, for which thinking outside of the curve is indicated--the 'zebras' in medicine. You need to include something about that in your answer.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Evidence-based medicine is supported by the literature, and being current with the literature should be your expectation of me. However, for the outliers under the bell curve, any thinking physician must not be afraid of considering other legitimate indications for atypical diagnostic or procedural protocols, if that is what's best for the patient. Luckily, in cardiology, the status quo of what is recommended is usually very well established. As someone who closely follows the literature in my specialty, I am confident that I am following the evidence-based protocols."

  3. 3.

    How is your attendance at general staff and department meetings?

      Running a group or a hospital, unfortunately, requires significant bureaucracy. The doctors are needed to make that run, which means taking responsibility for the clerical drudgery involved. This means meetings--lots of meetings. And they're always at night or during office hours, which can cut into your income. Note that the question doesn't ask whether your attendance will be good, but how it has been in the past. This implies that your answer may be verified by a phone call or two, so tell the truth. (Most likely, no one will be checking up on your answer, so even if you've been truant in the past, pledge to do better.)

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I may have missed meetings from time to time--usually due to my being occupied in clinical duties or vacation. However, I realize how important the business of the hospital/group is, and will make every effort to improve my attendance."

  4. 4.

    If you were to see a peer doing or saying something inappropriate, how would you respond?

      This isn't your problem to fix. You can't go wrong answering this question by saying you would go up the chain of command. A hospital or group wants something like this handled a certain way, and their best assurance that this will happen (when you're involved), is to pledge yourself to that chain of command, i.e., up the ranks to department chairman, Executive Committee, administrator, etc.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "First, I would make sure I saw or heard correctly. Depending on the transgression, I would either confront him or her discretely to resolve it vs. report it up the chain of command. I would report up if I felt it compromised patient care, would reflect poorly on the hospital (group), or be unethical, immoral, or illegal."

  5. 5.

    Are there any substance abuse, domestic violence, or other background items that could impact the integrity of our hospital/or group?

      Such situations are a reason for running away from a current situation. If there is such a damaging component in your history, own it, and explain the steps you took to eliminate the risk of it recurring, i.e., rehab, successfully completed therapy, etc. Let the interviewer know you are comfortable with a probationary period or supervision if deemed necessary.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have a DUI arrest in my past as a teenager. I do not have a problem with abuse, but my arrest required I partake in prevention programs, which I completed successfully."

  6. 6.

    If you were to receive a communication from the Executive Committee about a practice issue of yours that it feels could have clinical repercussions, or to justify your complication rate, how would you address the members when meeting with them?

      This is a procedural challenge to your clinical authority, so it can be upsetting. This question provides an opportunity to demonstrate how you handle personal challenges to your privileges. Even if you're right and the Executive Committee is wrong, you have to show them you're willing to be a good sport about the whole thing.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Cardiac patients are never good candidates for anything, really, so a morbidity or mortality rate considered inappropriate in other specialties is a reality that we in cardiovascular medicine must live with as a natural part of its less forgiving survival rate. If their concern were over such a complication rate, prior to my meeting I would research the literature about the most recent data for a basis of comparison. My specialty allows for some latitude, but if in researching this I discover a serious problem that justifies their concern, I would report that I am cognizant of it and am examining my patient cases to identify any problem areas so that I could learn and remodel my protocols. If I found that I could defend what I'm doing from my research, I would make my case but tell them I would abide by their decision on this."

  7. 7.

    If you’re on a rotational call for indigent patients or patients without a doctor, how would you feel about having to see a patient in the ED whom you had dismissed from your practice?

      This is a test of your willingness to comply with policy. Most physicians have dismissed patients from their practice for failure to pay or a failure in compliance. If you're fulfilling an obligatory role and a dismissed patient is assigned care to you, you have to accept it. Your role as a cardiologist makes any type of choice even more irrelevant.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Although I would not choose to see this patient electively under non-acute circumstances, I would follow policy and accept him or her without any personal asides to the patient. An acute cardiac event doesn't lend itself the luxury of picking or choosing by the patient or the doctor. If the situation allowed and the patient chose not to accept me as his or her doctor for this episode, I would call the Patient Advocate and arrange a consultation with the patient to remedy the conflict."

  8. 8.

    If you are summoned to a code by a hospital-wide announcement and, when you arrive, it is being run by a physician you feel is less qualified than you, how would you ensure the patient is getting the best management?

      Consider if less qualified means a physician who is not in a cardiovascular specialty or a hospitalist with ICU experience. If so, you outrank him/her--pure and simple. Don't be afraid to say so and answer that you expect that person to step aside. You can tailor your answer any way you want as long as you ensure the patient is getting the best management. It gets stickier if the person running the code has the same qualifications as you. If that physician is not doing a good job, but is credentialed to run a code, you must abide by that or--at worst--ask if you can take over.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have no reason to usurp the position of another physician running a code if he or she is as qualified as I am, according to the hospital's/group's credentialing committee. However, if I feel the protocol is not exemplary, I believe it is my obligation to stay and observe and even help, where needed. I won't just leave. I have a responsibility to the patient to make sure the best resuscitative measures are being implemented, even if that means I have to 'suggest' other remedies to the physician in charge. If it ever got really ugly, however, I would have a nurse call the Chief-of-Staff to instantly weigh in and intervene. This can easily be done over the phone."

  9. 9.

    Do you have any personal feelings for or against nurse practitioners or PAs who may be on staff?

      There is a traditional antagonism between MDs and other credentialed practitioners, if competition occurs. At the hospital or large group level, using physician extenders is no longer a philosophical issue, however, but purely financial. As these specialists gain credibility and acceptance in the health care marketplace, you have to present yourself as being open-minded, because as the American Board of Medical Specialties expands (or at least the types of authorizations by state medical boards), these providers will no doubt end up beside you treating patients--with you or for your competition.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "In cardiology, such physician-extenders do not 'extend' far from the managing physician. Therefore, this doesn't ruffle my competitive feathers; instead, I see their help as just that--helpful."

  10. 10.

    Do you have any hesitation referring to another cardiovascular specialist (e.g., cardiac surgeon, chest surgeon, vascular surgeon, or even an interventional radiologist) or other internal medicine subspecialty?

      This question is really asking if you plan to practice outside of your comfort zone, appropriately. Your answer should be centered on what is best for your patient, not winning some turf battle.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I certainly plan to practice along the lines of cardiology and any subspecialty I'm qualified for, when I can and when it's appropriate. I make liberal use of consultation for the best health impact on my patients. If another specialist does something better or is more qualified from a regulatory standpoint, I will willingly defer to or partner with him or her in the case at hand."

  11. 11.

    Do you accept Medicare assignment?

      This is really no business of theirs, unless there is a policy that you must be a 'participating doctor' accepting Medicare assignment. If it's a group, this might be so; if it's a hospital, it only applies to those employed by the hospital, not independent staff.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Yes, I am a participating doctor in accepting Medicare assignment.
      Alternatively, I accept Medicare but am a non-participating doctor for accepting assignment.
      Alternatively, I do not accept Medicare and have opted out. (This is likely incompatible with being a cardiologist)."

  12. 12.

    What would be your response to hearing a code being called in the middle of the night as you’re getting ready to go home after attending a patient?

      This is a no-brainer question. Of course you would respond. It is tempting to assume that certainly someone else would be there to respond, and that is typically true, but you don't want to be seen as the type of person who would need to hear the code called repeatedly before you responded.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Unless managing a clinically unstable situation or in the middle of a procedure, I would respond. As a cardiologist, I know that I would probably be the most qualified person there to manage the code. I personally feel that in cardiology, a code requires my mandatory participation until proven otherwise."

  13. 13.

    Would you be willing to serve on a committee investigating an issue with one of your colleagues?

      Internal affairs and investigation are just necessary. Things happen, and when patient care is affected or jeopardized, they must be explored and dispositions made so that they don't recur. Besides Joint Commission accreditation and insurance reimbursements, a public reputation is jeopardized by uncorrected omissions or errors in care. The interviewer wants to know if you'll have the courage to step up and do what's right.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "There is no easy answer for this, only a difficult one: yes, I would have an obligation to do what's right when it comes to patient care and safety, even if that means possibly being resented by a colleague. If it were a close personal friend being targeted by the investigation, I would ask to recuse myself, but I would be prepared for that not to be granted. The only thing I would want is to not be the only one making a judgement--having more than one investigator, I feel, is necessary to take politics out of such an inquiry and give it additional objective credibility."

  14. 14.

    How timely is your practice to sign off on chart entries and make all of your dictations current? Have you ever been suspended from a staff for failure to do these?

      This type of suspension is not a 'hard' suspension, per se: it doesn't mean there are any deficiencies in your medical care or expertise. Most physicians get a little behind from time to time, the only thing lighting a fire under them to get these clerical loose ends tied up is often suspension. Although this is frowned upon but not necessarily condemned, it does impact the hospital or group's bottom line, so the question is one of fiscal importance.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Although I've been occasionally remiss in keeping all sign-offs and dictations current, I feel it is important for me to be diligent in keeping current. It is not lost on me how reimbursement by third-party payers can be affected by incomplete charts. Just as important--to me--is the need for accuracy, and attempting to remember specifics from a procedure or rounds can become spotty if too much time has passed. For these reasons, I agree that keeping current is important and strive to do that."

  15. 15.

    How would you handle a problem in which Utilization Review wants you to discharge a patient who you feel isn’t medically ready for discharge?

      This pits you against the hospital to come up with a solution for everyone's benefit. UR actions are usually based on dollar issues, protecting the hospital bottom line from insurance denials.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "If I felt it would be dangerous to send a patient home, I would write a note of necessity for continued admission, on medical grounds, so that UR could submit it for approval from a third-party payer. If the patient just wanted to stay out of convenience, I would explain that he or she has satisfied criteria for discharge, but I would also offer home health follow-up if the patient desired and it were allowed/authorized."

  16. 16.

    Would you be willing to accept whatever electronic medical record process is in use here?


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  17. 17.

    Tell me about yourself.

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  18. 18.

    How do you feel about telemedicine?

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  19. 19.

    What invasive procedures are you planning to do?

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  20. 20.

    Do you have any personal problems with our seeing or assigning you indigent or “charity” cases?

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  21. 21.

    If you’re not available, due to illness or vacation, for example, how will your patients be cared for?

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  22. 22.

    Here we have a policy of _______. Do you have a problem with that?

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  23. 23.

    Do you have any lawsuits currently or in the past, including any settlements?

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  24. 24.

    What can you bring to our group/hospital?

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  25. 25.

    What is it about this group/hospital that makes you want to be a part of it?

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