From time to time, I talk with young people who are considering plastic surgery as a career. And then there’s the occasional person who has completed her education and ready to enter the field fulltime. For that second group, I have some advice of how to land that first plastic-surgery position.
First, hopefully while you were in school, you gave some thought to which area you would like to make your specialty. This doesn’t mean that you won’t branch out into other areas, but the most successful plastic surgeons make a name for themselves as “the expert” in one or two sub-fields of cosmetic or reconstructive surgery. For instance, while I do many types of plastic-surgery procedures, I’ve developed a positive reputation for my work in vaginoplasty and labiaplasty. Some other fields you might consider include facelifts, weight-loss procedures, breast enhancements and reductions. There are even hand surgeon specialists!
You’ll might need to work for someone else, at least for a while, before you start your own practice. This means editing and updating your resume. This will include writing a new cover letter which outlines your goals in the open plastic-surgery position. I recommend that, rather than having a stock resume and cover letter, you customize it for each position. And before you settle on a final resume, make sure you’ve researched and learned all you can about that medical practice ahead of time. This will allow you to include those items on your resume that will be most important to the practice, and will also cause you to look more informed at the interview.
So where do you find open positions? Certainly not on Craigslist! The logical place to start is at all local hospitals. Take a trip up there and speak frankly with someone and see if you can find out where open positions would be listed. Do the same with smaller medical centers. If you still come up short, look online for job boards that specialize in the medical field.
Many people will find it better to start out immediately with your own practice. While it’s harder to get started this way, it does have the dual advantages of bypassing the whole resume / interview process and of earning a lot more money. Be patient and persevere–and eventually you’ll find yourself in a career that will give you a lifetime’s worth of fulfillment.