zalzal.jpgFinding a Job in Ontario

Paul Zalzal, BASc, MASc, M.D., FRCSC
Assistant Clinical Professor
Faculty of Medicine
Department of Surgery
McMaster University
Staff Orthopaedic Surgeon
Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital
Oakville, ON

Without a doubt the most difficult step in my experience of finding an orthopaedic position in Ontario was deciding what kind of job I wanted. I had a difficult time choosing between an academic and a community position. I acquired my position at the conclusion of my fellowship by agreeing to fill a locum for a colleague who required six months away from his practice. When my colleague returned to his practice, the hospital then offered to create a position for me. I am now settled comfortably in a community hospital with a part time academic appointment. I do not think the luxury of having several jobs to choose from says anything special about me; instead it is reflective of a strong market for orthopaedic surgeons in Ontario at this time. The following article summarizes my recommendations to senior orthopaedic residents and young orthopaedic surgeons looking for jobs in Ontario. It is based on my experience getting to where I am today.

As I mentioned earlier, deciding on the type and location of the career you want is quite possibly the most difficult task. Try and figure out quickly if you want to go south of the border so you can obtain the required licenses while the relevant knowledge is still fresh in your mind. You do not need to look for American recruitment firms. Somehow, they will find you. I did not explore this option because the decision to stay in Canada at this time was simple for me. My family is settled here. If you too decide to stay in Canada, the following five suggestions may help you find what you are looking for.

1. Go to the Meetings.
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association and the Ontario Orthopaedic Association meetings are two of the best ways to network. Not only will you get a feel for what positions are available but you will also be able to get the word out that you are or will soon be available for hire.

2. Do a Fellowship
I recommend spending some time after residency doing some form of fellowship. If you want to subspecialize, then you probably will arrange a "high power" year or two. A peer of mine, however, created his own fellowship at a community hospital in Canmore, Alberta. Spending some time after residency before taking a permanent position gives you more time from a different perspective deciding what kind of career you want. Furthermore, you can take some call in various hospitals in which you are considering working.

3. Use the Company Reps.
In my experience, the orthopaedic sales representatives from the various companies were the first to know about opening positions in the hospitals across Ontario. In a single day they can easily visit three operating rooms in different hospitals so they are an effective way to get the word out that you are looking for a job. They are a surprisingly valuable resource in the job hunt.

4. Speak with Your Senior Colleagues
Just ask. Your mentors from residency or your fellowship supervisors can let you know if they are aware of what is available and also they can get the word out that you are looking for a job.

5. Speak with Your Peers
Speak with your peers who are also looking for jobs. Pooling your information can be mutually beneficial. Perhaps the position that is not right for one of your friends is perfect for you.

At the end of the day, finding a job should not be a stressful experience. If you take your time looking and remain reasonably flexible, the right job will find you. Keep in mind how your lifestyle will fit around your prospective new position. Be cautious of situations where you find yourself doing call in a hospital without any concrete promises of a position soon becoming available. When looking for a job, you should be in the driver's seat.

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