You want to create the best possible application. Providing you insight into my process of reviewing an application for a faculty position may help improve it. Fortunately, the competition for most veterinary faculty positions isn’t particularly fierce, so you are rarely competing against many applicants. Remember, the purpose of an application for a faculty position is to get you an interview. When I read an application, this is my primary consideration: should we offer an interview or not?
Letter of intent. It needs to be free of obvious flaws like spelling and grammar errors. I want to make sure the applicant knows the position to which they are applying. If they indicate they would like a lab for a strong research program, and the position is primarily a clinical one, that suggests a disconnect and they may not be a good fit. I don’t have high expectations for the letter, it just needs to be not terrible.
Curriculum vitae. This needs to be organized chronologically so I can see clearly what the applicant has done from undergrad to their current position. I want to see teaching and research productivity. For a more senior position, I want to see organization participation (e.g. with their specialty college) and journal reviewer responsibilities. Depending on the position, publications can range from one (new resident applying for a clinical position) to many (applying at an associate professor level in a tenure-track position). For a clinical specialist, I look for their board certification status.
Letters of recommendation. As always, I look for evidence of collegiality, humility, and positivity. Actually, I look for evidence that any of these things is NOT present. It may not mean they don’t get an interview offer, but it will frame the questions I ask during an interview.
Personal contacts. If I know people at the institution where the applicant currently works, I will call them up and chat. I am looking for the same information as in letters of recommendation.
As mentioned before, in a faculty application, I mostly look for evidence that the person would NOT be good to work with. If they seem basically competent and collegial, unless there are many applicants, I will recommend an interview.
Possibly due to poor preparation, possibly due to nerves, and possibly due to ignorance, people applying for and interviewing for faculty positions routinely make mistakes. Most of them are minor, some of them are major. Here are some I have seen (and a few I’ve done myself). Hopefully, by reading this, you can avoid them.
1) Mentioning the spousal hire at any point before getting an offer in hand. Just don’t do this. You are interviewing for a job- focus on the job. You don’t want to bias anyone by making them think you will be a more complicated or difficult hire due to a spouse. You want them to evaluate you on your merits alone. Wait until you have an offer to mention the need for a spousal hire.
2) Aiming to be a +1 in your application materials. As mentioned before, the point of a faculty application is to get you an interview. You just need a decent CV, decent letter, and decent recommendations. You may be able to get a slight leg up on other applicants if you have amazing versions of any of these, but probably not. Most of the time, if you aim to be a +1, you will fail and become a -1.
3) Phoning it in. If your application contains spelling errors, or you seem bored during your interview, you won’t get the offer. You need to be enthusiastic and interested from beginning to end.
4) Fleeing your current position. No one wants to hire a jaded, bitter, and angry faculty member. You need to be chasing something great at the place you are applying for, not fleeing something terrible. You MAY say your current position isn’t a great fit, but you MAY NOT say it is terrible and you just want to be anywhere else.
4.5) Talking badly about colleagues. This is often seen in conjunction with fleeing your current position. I don’t care if your mortal enemy works where you work, you cannot talk badly about them. This is the image you are painting of who you are as a faculty member. If you talk badly about current colleagues, that means you will talk badly of future colleagues. You MAY say you don’t communicate well with a certain person, but you MAY NOT say they are a monster and make your life hell.
5) Giving a bad job talk. This is separate from phoning it in, but often occurs concurrently. You need to practice your presentation and make sure it is amazing. Most positions involve teaching, after all. If you can’t teach, you can’t do the job.
6) Being a boor. This covers a wide range of sins, including ordering numerous alcoholic drinks, not engaging people, being rude or dismissive, not smiling, not meeting people’s eyes, saying inappropriate things, and other unprofessional behavior. I’m not sure what to say to get you to not do this. Practice being a better person, I suppose?
7) Not having a clue. If you didn’t do your interview/site visit prep, or if you want a tenure-track position but are interviewing for a clinical-track position, or if you don’t know what the institution is about, you will turn people off. Do your prep work and make sure you actually want the job.
8) Being weird. Look, I am all for being outside of normal, but not during an interview. Dress conservatively, practice your conversation and interview skills, and don’t go off the rails in conversation topics. I once had an applicant who OVER-prepared and wanted to show it off (aiming for a +1) and, as a consequence, we didn’t get to talk about things that were actually important for the job.
I could probably go on. This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, but to give you a general sense of how to act during a faculty interview. You want to demonstrate that you will be a good, positive, productive colleague. No department chair wants a Project or a Problem Child. The more you can show that you get along with people and will do a good job, the better.
I have been putting off writing this post for a while because it’s just so overwhelming. All of your application materials have one job: to get you the interview. The interview is the high-stakes encounter when you are applying for a faculty job. The decision by the search committee is largely based on your performance during the interview. In addition to general interview advice and preparatory research, we have to talk about what to say, how do to a great presentation, and what to ask. I have a separate post planned for the presentation, so let’s focus on the other two domains.
What to say
In general, you want answers to be meaningful but not expansive. If you are giving an answer longer than 2 minutes, it’s probably too long. You can leave them wanting more and allow them to ask follow-up questions. For example, you will always get the question, “Why this institution?” You should be prepared for this. Instead of giving an in-depth analysis based on your extensive research which touches on all the things you know about it, you can start with a highlights reel. “Well the faculty all seem to have a good quality of life, I hear the students are keen and engaged, and the work done in my discipline by the folks here has been notable.” Now they can ask follow-up questions if they like.
Do not give excessively short, clipped answers which leave the questioner with nowhere to go. Faculty interviews are almost never a series-of-question rapid-fire sort of affair. They are usually casual and conversational. If you approach it like a conversation- they ask a question, you answer, you ask a question, they answer, it will be a more natural flow.
Be positive. For god’s sake don’t say you want the job because your current job sucks. You must maintain a positive approach throughout. I don’t care if you are being bullied in your current position- you want to go to this new job because it is great, not because your old job is terrible. Avoid this temptation. I understand it can be hard- I have faced it myself- but you must remain positive.
Be specific. This is up to your preparatory research and conversations you have throughout the interview. If you meet with someone at the beginning of day one who says something which intrigues you, such as “It’s easy to do research with undergrads here because of our undergrad research office,” bring that up in subsequent discussions. “Well, Dr. Jones mentioned your undergrad research office, and that is a distinct interest of mine as well.” Speaking in generalities will not convince the committee that you want THIS job, just A job. You have to be SPECIFIC.
You do I do. An easy and effective formula for any interaction is: “You do this thing well. It matches what I do well.” For example, if they have an active learning approach (or want to start one), you can say, “I understand you are encouraging faculty to engage in active learning modalities. I taught a course last year which was primarily a flipped classroom, from which I gained a lot of experience in how to do active learning.” Take what they give you- what are they excited about- and reflect it back with how you can enhance that.
What to ask
Remember, you are interviewing this institution as much as they are interviewing you. The goal is to find the best fit, not necessarily the objectively “best” institution. So you need to ask some serious, incisive questions which will help you get a real sense for the place.
What are your challenges? This can be framed a variety of ways, such as “What don’t you like about working here” and “What would you change about the job”. The point is you want to find out what existing faculty members believe the current problems are. EVERY institution has its problems. The question isn’t “Do you have problems?”, the question is, “Are the problems you have ones I can cope with or not?” Hopefully, you know this about yourself. If not, reflect on it more.
What do you like about working here? This is the flip side of the first question, and hopefully elucidates the strengths of the institution. Again, the goal isn’t to hear, “Everything is perfect!” but rather to hear what specific things the current faculty and administration like about the institution. Do these things align with what you think is important in a job?
What is your ideal candidate? This will help you determine if what they are looking for is what you want to do. If they say, “Someone who will really engage with the students on a personal level” and you struggle to learn students’ names and want to spend time on research, maybe this isn’t the best fit. Follow up/alternative: What do you want this candidate to bring to the program/institution?
What is the next step of the process? You need to know the timeline for decision-making. They may also tell you how many other candidates there are and where you are in the order of interviews. This is essential information if you are interviewing at multiple institutions in the same span of time. If your top pick isn’t making a choice for 3 more months, and you get an offer before then, will you be willing to wait?
The scope of the information about the faculty interview cannot be covered in a single post or even several. I will dedicate other posts to this topic, but I wanted to get the most important elements written before drilling down on some details or expanding on what is covered here. What do you think needs to be brought up during the faculty interview?
The road to veterinary specialization is a long, arduous one. First, you have to get into vet school and excel there. Then you do post-graduate training: an internship (for clinical disciplines) and then a residency. Towards the end of your residency, you have to submit your credentials to demonstrate you are qualified to take the specialty exam. Everything leads up to the exam, which, if you pass, makes you a Board Certified Specialist.
Many board exams have a pass rate around 50%. So even AFTER all that arduous training, as well as studying for the exam, your odds of passing are like flipping a coin. Even very smart people sometimes don’t pass boards. Some people, unfortunately, never pass their board exam. Fortunately, passing is not random, and you can take steps to maximize your chance of success.
1) Kick ass during your residency. “Those who do the work do the learning.” This is an oft-repeated phrase for classroom teachers, but it applies here. If you phone in your rounds participation or your resident prep topics, you will have more to study prior to boards. Take every opportunity to learn during your program. Notice I don’t say ‘work harder’- everyone works hard during their residency. YOU can work smarter. You are earning low pay in a time-consuming, soul-crushing training program: get what you can from it.
2) Get perspective. I only spent 3 weeks at a human hospital during my residency, but I learned a tremendous amount during that time. My experiences during an anesthesia externship in Dublin and a critical care externship in Colorado dramatically improved my understanding of important, universal concepts. As much as possible, seek out opportunities to learn from a wide spectrum of people during your residency.
3) Get time off. Wherever you go after your residency, you NEED to negotiate for time off to study. This should be time off from clinics, teaching, and most other responsibilities. You need to be able to dedicate a solid 6-10 hours a day to studying, and you can’t do that if you’re preparing for a classroom course or covering on call time. This needs to be IN WRITING before you accept any job
4) Study seriously. Get organized. Don’t blow off days. Make progress every day. Find an accountability program or app if you need to. It seems redundant for me to say “be motivated,” but I have met many people studying for boards who do not seem particularly motivated. If this describes you, come up with some mechanisms which works for you. Play Minecraft and, during the Minecraft night, study. Read a Cracked article for every hour you study. I had to go to Jason’s Deli to study because otherwise I had too many distractions. Whatever you need to motivate you, do that.
5) Practice. Cooperate with others preparing for boards and give each other questions. They can help hold you accountable. Ask your mentors (or former mentors) for any practice questions they may have. When the anesthesia college used to do oral exams, my impression is that most people failed because they didn’t have a strategy, not because they lacked the knowledge.
The specialty board exam is the culmination of at least 10 years (and often much more) of higher education. Why would you not dedicate every single resource at your disposal to successfully passing? Work smart, learn from many people, have dedicated time to study, be serious about studying, and practice. It’s not a guarantee of passing, but it’s the best chance you have?
I’ve written a lot about the ideas you should express in letters of application, and even some specific suggestions on what to include. We’ve talked about what not to do and what goals you should have, but one of my editors suggested I write an actual nuts-and-bolts-how-to-style post about writing an application letter, so here you go. How to write an application letter in eight steps.
1) Sit down at your computer and open your word processing program
2) Write: To Members of the Selection Committee
3) Write: I am applying for <insert position>. I am currently <your professional role>
4) Write down everything you can think of about yourself which makes you an excellent candidate. Write down everything you can think of about your interest in the position. It should be many pages long
5) Trim. And trim. And trim. Take the best parts of what you have written in step 4. It needs to be one page, no more
6) Proofread. Edit, clean up sentences, make sure the grammar is correct. Make sure the ideas flow from one to the next
7) Give it to friends, family, mentors- anyone whose opinion you respect. Ask them to use Track Changes or similar to make changes and comments. Read all the comments and changes and take the ones you like
8) Read it again. Does every sentence serve a purpose? Is there any rambling? Do you use decisive wording or do you sound wishy-washy? Sharpen it
Now you are done. You have to do this for each step of your professional progression. Don’t refer back to what you wrote for vet school when you’re applying for internships. Start fresh. And remember Kaizen– continuous improvement. Each iteration should be better than the last. Have fun and good luck!
Opinions on this may differ, but I wanted to share with you my philosophical approach to applying to faculty jobs. It can be summarized pretty easily: don’t bluff and be genuine. This can be harder to do than it sounds.
Academic institutions have interesting, but fairly consistent approaches to salaries and raises. There is usually more money available for new hires than for existing hires. Existing hires have had to get raises through lean years and when the legislature (if a public school) is more conservative with education than other years. As a result, salary compression occurs
Salary compression is when people who have been working at an institution for a while end up making less than a new hire. Although uncommon, you can have a situation where a full professor makes less than a new assistant professor. While you don’t need to make a lot of money to be happy, you DO need to make a fair amount of money to be happy. Studies indicate that employees are generally happy with their salary if it is fair. Unfortunately, salary compression can result in salaries not being fair among faculty members
The ‘solution’ to this problem in academia is, unfortunately, applying for other jobs, getting an offer, and then using that to negotiate with your home institution. I put the solution in quotes because I hate this solution. I believe it is disingenuous. This may be where my sense of an idealized world conflicts with reality: you shouldn’t HAVE to resort to this, the institution should keep your salary at pace with others over time. But I understand that isn’t always reality and this is how some people manage it
I had one colleague who was grossly underpaid at a large state school. He was a full professor, had asked for an adjustment, and been told ‘no’. As a consequence he began applying elsewhere. Once he got an offer from another institution, his home school was suddenly able to find money and pay enough to keep him. Would he have actually left if he hadn’t gotten a retention offer? Maybe yes, maybe no.
What I would prefer to advise people instead is this: if salary means that much to you (I sure wish it wouldn’t), and you are genuinely unhappy because of the lack of fairness, then you should genuinely look for a job elsewhere. It should not be a ploy or a bluff. If you are unhappy, you SHOULD look for a different job. But I believe you should only look for jobs you may seriously consider taking.
I feel that it is a disservice to the institution and, potentially, your reputation to interview somewhere you absolutely know you will not go. Most schools dedicate significant time and energy to faculty interviews- you don’t want to waste those resources. Also, maybe there is another candidate who would LOVE to go there but doesn’t get an interview because you take up one of the slots. We routinely interview only about 3 people on average for many faculty positions. If you know you won’t go somewhere, don’t take someone else’s spot.
On the other hand, if you believe you COULD go there, even if you’re not sure, then it is fair to apply and interview. I have applied to institutions I wasn’t sure about and, after visiting, was favorably impressed and willing to consider moving if given an offer. Some places I have interviewed and decided it wasn’t a good fit for me, but I didn’t know that before visiting.
My wife went on numerous interviews and got several offers, which helped refine her understanding of what she wanted from her career. So I’m not saying don’t interview unless you’re certain you will accept an offer. You may need to go through an interview to decide if the institution or job is right for you. I am saying: don’t interview if you’re certain you wouldn’t accept an offer. To do so is not being genuine.
The last time I did a phone interview I was a senior vet student applying for internships. Therefore, I do not have the experience with this format that I do with any other. However, my significant other has been interviewing like a fiend for the past 6 months and has done numerous phone interviews. I have called her in to offer her experience and expertise to give you, our reader, the best information available.
This is the Pharmducator. Which is my way of saying that I’m The Vetducator’s spouse and my field of expertise is pharmacy, not vet med. I was asked me to write this post because he has very little experience with phone interviews, whereas I have been interviewed by phone many times during my one-year (in total) full time job search experience.
In reading this post, it’s important to understand that I HATE speaking on the telephone. I can’t tell you exactly why, but texting/emailing/in-person conversations have always been my vast preference for communication. However, when your entire job is to find a job (or internship/residency/vet school acceptance), you put up with a lot of anxieties. Here’s what my experiences have taught me about phone interviews:
Environment: In a lot of ways, phone interviews can be easier than video interviews. You can do them in your pajamas, without removing all of your questionable artwork from the walls, in any kind of lighting set-up. You should, however, plan to be in as quiet a space as possible. If I’m at home, I’ll usually do a phone interview in my bedroom with the door closed so the cats won’t decide that they need attention halfway through my conversation. If you schedule a time during work or school, find a similarly private space. I shared an office for my most recent position, so I couldn’t guarantee I would be alone for my interview. I wound up in my lab, since I knew no one would need that space during my scheduled time. Obviously, you should make sure your phone is fully charged or can be connected to your charger if necessary. I wouldn’t recommend using speakerphone, as the sound quality is often quite poor. If you have access to a good-quality landline, that may be your best bet.
Preparation: Phone interviews typically last around half-an-hour; I’ve only done one or two that lasted close to an hour. The institution may have a hard-and-fast time limit; that is, it’s possible your time is absolutely up once that 30 minutes elapses. Some may allow for more time, but be prepared to be concise in your questions as well as your answers. Sometimes the sound quality on the other end may be compromised, so get used to the idea that you may need to ask people to repeat themselves. If you’re provided with the names of the people who will be on the call, research them ahead of time and tailor your questions or answers accordingly.
Format: Phone interviews are usually part of the screening process for candidates. The institution usually has some set questions, either from the individuals on the call or mandated by the institution. This is why it’s important to be concise in your answers; your caller(s) may have to ask you these exact eight questions, and, if you spend five minutes on each answer, the callers may be late for their next interview or class, or you may not be asked the question that’s going to prove you’re the best candidate on their list. Listen carefully to what you’re told regarding the format and be mindful of the time you have.
Aside from that, all the same preparation rules for interviews apply: look up the institution, know as much as possible about the position, and have questions prepared. Post in the comments if you have questions that I haven’t covered here!
Do you have a hard time asking for help? Talking to people? There are a lot of veterinary professionals out there who have a hard time with both of these. Veterinarians are notoriously self-reliant and independent. Imagine the early days with the lone vet out there on house calls- you didn’t have a cell phone to call for a consult, you had to Figure It Out. It’s built into the very bones of our profession. I think this must be why I see so many applications and interviews where the individual clearly didn’t ask for help, and it reflects in their work. Faculty are easy resources- they are being paid to teach you, after all. You must ask for help. We’ll see why and how in this post.
Why you need help
1) This is a high-stakes event. If you are applying to vet school, internships, or residencies, there are MANY others also applying for these positions. At UGA we would routinely have 200 applicants for six intern positions, and I heard from a friend this year they had 190 applicants for a one surgery residency position. You need the best possible application and interview in order to stand out from the crowd and secure a position.
2) You are not an expert at career progression through veterinary academia. Heck, you’re barely a novice. It would be like someone with no training getting into a boxing ring- you’re going to get hurt. You haven’t been through this process, so you don’t have the experience. You haven’t mentored others, so you don’t have the perspective. Mentors and even peers can provide this experience and perspective.
3) I have evidence you need help. I read materials all the time and think, “Did they even show this to their mother?!?” Simple typos, bizarre sentences, odd flows of logic- all of these would be identified and helped by an outside observer. Many applicants could dramatically improve their application and interview skills by working with mentors.
How to ask for help
First of all, don’t just limit your editors to faculty with whom you have had a long-standing relationship. If they have supervised you on a clinical rotation, or even in a didactic course, you can ask for their help. It’s possible you won’t get a response or will get a ‘no’, but remember: most faculty are there because of the students. They WANT to help you, you just have to ask!
1) Ask in person. This is usually whenever you see or interact with the faculty member. You can also swing by their office. It’s not hard, just say, “Hey Dr. X, I’m applying for ThisKindOfPosition, would you be able and willing to give me some help with my application?” That’s it! So simple! As always, if you get a ‘yes’, follow up with email.
2) Ask by email. This requires less timing to figure out- you can send it at any time. It is slightly less personal, though. Particularly if you don’t have a strong relationship with your mentor, email may be a little too impersonal. They may not remember working with you and you may get somewhat tepid assistance if they don’t know you well. If you choose to email, take a similar tack to in-person: a short email along the lines of, “Hello Dr. X, I am applying for ThisKindOfPosition this <timeframe> and was wondering if you would be able and willing to provide advice on the process and look over my materials? Any help you can give would be appreciated. Please let me know what you think. Thank you so much!”
Now you know why and how. Go out there and get help! What obstacles do you experience in seeking out help with your career?
For anyone applying for a faculty position, this is probably the nightmare scenario: you interviewed, you like the position, they liked you, they offer you the position, you begin negotiating, and then they pull the offer. What the hell just happened? This topic is difficult for me to discuss because it is so thoroughly beyond-the-pale unprofessional and unacceptable for institutions to pull an offer that I can barely wrap my head around it. Nonetheless, it does happen in veterinary medicine, and I have personally seen it twice.
The first I heard second-hand about but did not participate in. The small, private institution had offered a candidate the position and the candidate came back with requests. The problem is, one of those requests was absolutely impossible for the institution. The applicant felt strongly about it, though, so contemplated it for a long time and came back with another possible solution. There was at least one other back-and-forth like this. The candidate came back with another possible solution, and the hiring manager at the institution became frustrated and said, “Forget it.”
The second happened to a friend of mine. They received an offer for a faculty position at an off-campus research center affiliated with a large state school. My friend came back with a request for flexibility to allow remote work from an office on-campus (4 hours away from the research center) 4-6 days per month because of a personal family situation. The institution pulled the offer without further negotiation or explanation.
Let me be clear: this is the fault of the institution, NOT the applicant. I told my friend that it was probably for the best: any organization which would pull an offer during negotiations is not one you want to work for. This happens only because individuals at the organization get ego and emotion involved, which you SHOULD NOT do during negotiations. Here’s how negotiations are supposed to work:
The institution extends an offer. You respond with what you would like in order to accept it. The institution responds. They may give you everything, they may give you something, or they may give you nothing of what you ask for. If they give you everything, great, you accept the offer. If they give you something, you may be able to reply asking for a different something. The second-to-last step in any negotiation is the institution saying: this is our final offer, take it or leave it, and we need a decision by this date. It is then up to the candidate to decide if that is acceptable to them or not.
I can’t imagine why an institution would rescind an offer unless it is due to ego or emotion. I have heard administrators say during a negotiation, “Well, they aren’t appreciative enough of our offer,” or “What they are asking for is unreasonable.” The first reflects a ridiculous premise- of COURSE they appreciate the offer, but they want to do the best thing for themselves, their colleagues, and the institution. The second is irrelevant- if the institution believes it is unreasonable, they can reply with, “We cannot do that.” That’s how negotiations work!
If you are applying for faculty positions and are concerned about the pulled offer, my advice is: Do not be concerned. First, they are vanishingly rare. I have a personal sample of probably 50 negotiations of which I am aware enough to know if this happened. The fact that this happened in only two cases indicates a 4% incidence rate. In fact, the rate is very likely much lower than that, as there are hundreds more negotiations I do not know of that did not result in a pulled offer. Second, it is a GOOD thing if an institution pulls an offer to you. This indicates they are immature and unprofessional and don’t know how to conduct a negotiation. You don’t want to work at an institution like that. Of the two cases I described, I believe both candidates dodged a bullet.
Any competent administrator, if faced with a situation where they can’t give a candidate what the candidate is asking for, will say so, “This is the best we can do. Let us know by this date if you will accept or not.” When negotiating, you need to ask for what you NEED and what you WANT and offer reasonable explanations for your requests. Don’t accept any less because you are afraid of the pulled offer. The reasonable institution will give you what they can and negotiate in good faith.
NB: All of this assume YOU dealt with the institution in good faith. If you withheld something (pending license investigation, legal trouble, accusations of academic malfeasance, etc.), you should absolutely expect this will be discovered and, no matter where you are in the process, the offer will probably be rescinded. But you wouldn’t do anything like that, would you? So does not apply to you.
Aim for zero. Seriously. The faculty selection process is largely based on the interview. All of your written materials are designed with only one goal: to get you an interview. Once you interview, all of your written materials will be of minimal value, unless those materials ‘ding’ you. Therefore, your strategy is simple: aim for zero.
Consider what those recruiting a faculty member want out of a candidate. They want someone personable and low maintenance. No department chair wants to recruit someone who is going to be a pain in their side. Your letters, therefore, should primarily speak to your collegiality. Therefore, you can get letters from three sources: supervisors, colleagues, and mentees.
Supervisors. See the above description of what a department head is looking for. If your current head can write that you are low maintenance and highly productive, that makes it easy to offer you an interview. If you are finishing your residency, obtain at least one letter from a faculty mentor, and preferably two.
Colleagues. This could be someone in your discipline and someone outside your discipline. If possible, a letter from each of these is ideal. It’s important to demonstrate that you can get on with others in your discipline as well as those outside of your discipline. You should definitely have at least one and preferably two letters from colleagues.
Mentees. These are preferably residents who have now gone on to bigger and better things. If you are an administrator, they may be faculty you have supervised. In general it is better to solicit letters from people with whom you no longer work- that way there is no concern of inappropriate pressure applied to them. If you trained a resident, they loved you, and they are out in the world as a specialist, they have no pressure to write you a good letter except that they loved working with you. If you are a resident, a more junior resident or a former intern who liked working with you may be good. This category is not a requirement and these letters of recommendation should be considered additional to the core letters.
I strongly advise you get at least one letter from a supervisor and one letter from a colleague. You need people who will speak to your collegiality and productivity/work ethic. Ask potential writers if they are willing to write a good letter, send them the position description, and give them plenty of notice/time to put a letter together. Remember your goal: get an interview.