Your professional relationships with other physicians are important. Not only do you work closely with them on the job, they often become your friends outside of work as well. The last thing you want to do is to hurt your relationship by pestering them with time-consuming reference requests. Here are three ways to help you get the references you need while keeping your friends happy.
1. Grow your network
Most people have a limited number of contacts to use as references. If you use them too often, there’s a high risk they will develop “reference fatigue.” Even the best of friends will eventually get tired of responding to repeated requests to provide a reference for you.
A good best practice is to widen your network as much as possible to reduce the demand on each individual reference. This is especially important for physicians working locum tenens, who may need to give out references several times a year as part of the credentialing and privileging process for new assignments.
Here are a few tips that can help you start developing friends who can become references right from the first day on a new job:
- Ask friendly, conversational questions like “what did you do on your day off?” or “what’s something fun to do in this area after work?” then show a genuine interest in the answers.
- Never eat alone. Whenever possible, invite someone to lunch or to grab coffee.
- If you find a common interest with your new friends, invite them to join you in the activity.
- Stay in touch after the job ends. An occasional text, phone call, or social media interaction goes a long way toward maintaining a friendship.
Once you have gotten to know someone, you can comfortably ask them to be a reference for you. A modest effort to make new friends at each place you work will rapidly increase the size of your network so you don’t have to rely too much on the same references for each new job opportunity.
2. Keep a reference log
Credentialing bodies typically have very specific reference requirements. For example, Weatherby Healthcare requires three references every two years for credentialing, and each reference must meet the following requirements:
- Must be a peer
- Two of the three must be from the same specialty as you
- Must have worked with you in a clinical setting within the last 24 months
- Must have first-hand knowledge of your clinical performance
Most hospitals and healthcare facilities have similar requirements as part of their credentialing and privileging processes.
Nothing will slow down credentialing faster than providing references that don’t meet the requirements, are out-of-date, or have bad contact information. A good best practice is to keep a detailed reference log that includes the following data points:
- Name of reference
- Specialty or specialties
- Facility where you worked together
- Period of time you worked together
- Personal email
- Cellphone or direct phone number (not a hospital mainline)
Then you always have a quick way to verify your references are current and meet requirements.
Tip: Every time you conclude an assignment, update both your CV and your reference log at the same time.
3. Notify and set expectations
Before you give out a colleague’s name as a reference, notify them a request is coming. This serves three valuable functions:
- It will allow you to verify their contact info
- They can expect the call or email and respond in a timely manner
- You can confirm they are available and willing to respond
Important: If a credentialing body is unable to reach your references for an extended period of time, it can slow or even halt the credentialing process. This is a very common problem when references are not expecting to be contacted.
If you have provided the same person as a reference to multiple parties — such as a locum tenens agency, a hospital, and a licensing board — it’s a good idea to let them know to expect more than one contact. If possible, try to use different references for each credentialing body to reduce the demand on each individual reference.
Tip: Once you have notified your reference, note when and where you used them in your log. It’s a good way to track and limit how often you use them.
Growing your network of friends and colleagues — and then taking care not to overuse them as references — will help facilitate the credentialing process while keeping your friends happy.
Do you have tips for growing and maintaining your list of professional references? Share them in the comments below. For the latest locum tenens job openings, visit our job board or call 954.343.3050.