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Family Practice Physician Interview

20 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 20

Tell me a little about yourself.

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Family Practice Physician Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me a little about yourself.

      This should be answered briefly and succinctly, and it should include why you want this position and the circumstances behind leaving your current situation (they will want to know--and will ask if you don't say why).

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I come here a few years delayed, as medicine wasn't my initial goal--I had gotten another degree. I had to go back to school to acquire some of the pre-requisites for my application to med school. However, I have since been on track. I am married with one child. After finishing my residency, I joined the staff of the school for a year until I could decide where I wanted to go next. That brings me here."

  2. 2.

    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 it 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 were to respond.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Unless I was managing a clinically unstable situation or in the middle of a procedure, I would respond. I would only drop out if there were others available whom I felt were more qualified to attend the code."

  3. 3.

    Are you going to be doing obstetrics, and if so, are you willing to back up midwives doing deliveries?

      This answer is simple if you don't plan on doing deliveries. If you do, midwifery home births and natural childbirth are constantly in vogue within varying percentages of a hospital's demographics. When you appreciate that the only reason you'd become involved is when a serious problem came up, you will realize that being a part of this scheme means you'll dodge the liability (and rightfully so), by having the patient cared for by an obstetrician or maternal fetal specialist. This shouldn't bother you if it's part of the hospital service, but home deliveries are a different liability altogether. You should state that the very nature of referral from a midwife means a specialist in obstetrics is needed. Not you.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I would be committed to working with any midwife as a hospital attendant for uncomplicated labor and delivery. This excludes home delivery, however, because medicolegally, I feel home birth should not be considered routine, which then excludes me as a family practitioner."

  4. 4.

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

      This is more than just hospital policy, but a challenge to your clinical authority, which is traditionally up to the physician alone. Therefore, this can be upsetting. It is a question of how you handle personal challenges to your privileges.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Prior to my meeting, I would research the literature about what I was doing in this particular practice, be it off-label prescribing or using protocols not considered to be evidence-based. My authority allows for some latitude. If in researching this, I discover a serious problem that justifies their concern, I would report that I have learned from this and will not repeat the practice(s) of concern. If I found that I could defend the practice based on research, I would make my case but express that I would abide by their decision on this."

  5. 5.

    How do you feel about telemedicine?

      Since the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine is probably here to stay, and everyone--including hospitals and groups--are looking for ways to incorporate it in a fiscally prudent way. You should be ready to embrace it, not blindly, but thoughtfully within the parameters of what is considered good medical care.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "To me, the difference between telemedicine being appropriate or not is a function of signs-vs-symptoms. That is, I require a patient's physical presence and an exam to document signs that are applicable to the chief complaint, but symptoms are a different matter. If the patient is established with me and I am familiar with his or her case, I can discuss and manage symptoms or medications via telemedicine. If the patient is seeking an initial appointment with me, I would need to see him or her before relegating appropriately to telemedicine protocols."

  6. 6.

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

      You should never have a problem with any policy of the place to which you're applying. A good example is a Catholic hospital that won't do provide pregnancy termination counseling. Before you interview, you should decide whether you can practice under such constraints. Luckily, seldom are there any stipulations that will ruin your life.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I wouldn't seek a position here if I had a problem with that. My only professional stipulation is that I can treat any person who needs my services and be allowed to do what is best for him or her."

  7. 7.

    What invasive procedures are you planning to do?

      This is a matter of what exact privileges you're seeking in this position. They don't want 'mavericks' who are seeking privileges beyond their training.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My invasive procedure complication rate is within acceptable standards, and I follow my specialty to satisfy all criteria for such procedures, qualifying both the need for the patient and supporting my ability to perform them. I can cite the actual complication rates when I apply for the specific invasive procedures, as part of your vetting process."

  8. 8.

    What can you bring to our group/hospital?

      You don't just want to say that you're an expert or have a lot of experience, but be a little bold here by stating that, although you find it very impressive here, you have noticed that there are some gaps in the total picture of care rendered, and you feel you can fill these gaps. This is a way of saying that selecting you will not only get what it needs, but even exceed it. You can further state that you can bring this hospital or group additional resources that most hospitals don't have, which would make this organization stand out above the rest. (These are the offerings that will make you particularly attractive, where you tout your special interests). Special interests are specific aspects of one's specialization that do not have the bureaucratic designation of certification by a board. For example, you may be board certified or board eligible in Family Medicine, or even further trained (for example, in Hospital and Palliative medicine), but you might say you have a special interest in geriatric medicine. This would sound very fortuitous to a hospital struggling with a high geriatric co-morbidity rate in its demographic.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The whole reason I want to be here is the pursuit of excellence and state-of-the-art medicine you're known for. Also, your continuing education fits in well with my needs for growth. It makes an excellent foundation for my special interest in geriatric medicine that your unique demographic--and the challenge to manage it even better within your Family Medicine department."

  9. 9.

    Would you be willing to serve on a committee investigating an issue concerning 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 is right.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "There is no easy answer for this, only a difficult one: yes, I would have an obligation to do what is 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 to not be granted. The only thing I would ask 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."

  10. 10.

    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 attending 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 being occupied in clinical duties or vacation. However, I realize how important the business of the hospital/group is, and I will make every effort to improve my attendance."

  11. 11.

    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 do so. It is not lost on me how reimbursement by third-party payers can be affected by incomplete charts. Just as important is the need for accuracy, and remembering 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 I strive to do that."

  12. 12.

    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 scenario 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 UR could submit it for approval from a third-party payer. If the patient simply wanted to stay for his or her 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 it and if it were allowed."

  13. 13.

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

      This question is asked as another test of your willingness to comply with policy, so you should agree.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Of course. If I am part of this group/hospital, I want to be all in, as it relates to my compliance with all the protocols."

  14. 14.

    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. You should be willing to follow the policies of the hospital/group to which you are applying.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Although I would not choose to do this electively, I would follow policy and accept without any personal asides to the patient. If the patient chose not to accept me as his or her doctor for this episode, I would call the Patient's Advocate and arrange a consultation with the patient to remedy the conflict."

  15. 15.

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

      Such situations are a reason for running away from a current situation. If there is 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."

  16. 16.

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

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  17. 17.

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

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  18. 18.

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

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  19. 19.

    Do you have any current or previous lawsuits, including any settlements?

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  20. 20.

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

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