OK, here is how I've handled my job hunt so far.
I decided to take the shotgun approach. I started at Gaswork.com, and looked at the jobs posted there in states where I might consider working. Generally, that meant the southeastern and midwest states. However, I also had the mindset that I was willing to go just about anywhere, provided the job was right. I also went to this site:
The guy who runs the site lists a number of different links for CRNA job searches. Some are agency links, others are not.
For EVERY job at any site that looked remotely interesting to me, I have fired off an email or other response inquiring about the position. One mistake I have made so far: I did not start out organized. I have received a number of responses, and keeping them straight has been very tough. I wish I had kept a log of all my inquiries.
Here are some of the things I had in mind when I began my search:
Salary and benefits: Though wherever I decide to work does not have to necessarily match my current salary and benefits, I am not interested in going somewhere to work for less overall compensation. Generally, the salary had to at least match what I make now (including my overtime pay). If the benefits were less than what I am receiving now, I am looking for an increased salary to make up for the lost benefit.
Work and time off: As most of you know, I am currently keeping a killer schedule. In the last two weeks, I have worked 119 hours, and there is no sign of slowing down. What little precious time off I do have is mostly spent sleeping. I want more time with my family, and less time spent in the OR. Where ever I interview, I will be particularly tuned to this factor. When I signed the contract for my current position, I was told that I could plan on average 50 hour work weeks. That was perfect from a time off versus overtime standpoint. Of course, for the last several months, a 50 hour week seems almost luxurious to me.
Independence and practice parameters: Where I work now is great for experience at certain things, particularly doing anesthesia for very sick (most of our patients are ASA III and IV), there are other areas where I hope for more independence. Depending on which doc is supervising, I may or may not get to choose the induction agents, place lines as necessary (and I have generally become quite adept at central lines), and so forth. The senior doctor in the group sees CRNA's as mostly babysitters. I have to have his approval for most of the drugs I use (and he is unfamiliar with remifentanil, so he doesn't like it), and generally am not allowed to do ANY procedures, such as place central lines, spinal anesthetics, and epidural catheters, when he is supervising. I want more independence to choose my own anesthetics, and more freedom to do my own procedures. I also found in school that I enjoyed doing some OB anesthesia, which our group does not do.
Location is not as important. Though I do have some standards, I spent 14 years in the military, and have found location is not nearly as important to a good life as is good work environment. Generally, to meet what I want, my wife and I have accepted that I will have to practice anesthesia in a more rural environment than where we currently live. That's OK, but the downside is that I won't be doing hearts and heads anymore. But don't kid yourself. Giving up doing those in order to have a good family life is a VERY SMALL price to pay.
Next weekend, I am traveling to rural Illinois for an interview at a hospital where, if I accept the position, I will be one of two or three CRNA's doing anesthesia. What I have learned so far is that IF you are on weekend call, you might make it to a 40 hour work week. There are no MDA's at this hospital, so my practice will be as independent as it gets, and they do some OB (I think about 80 - 100 deliveries per year) These folks have impressed me with what they have had to say about CRNA's, and have met all my requests for compensation. The downside is that I will be an employee of the hospital. But, that could be OK.
There is another position here in Kansas I am also considering. It is an all CRNA group, that offers a partnership with no buy in after one year in the group. The rewards of a partnership can be quite lucrative.
I'll keep you posted.
Edited to add: I am a little reluctant to post the actual salary I am being offered, but I will say it is a greater than 50% increase over my current base salary.