7 Steps to Successful Physician Recruitment
By Tom Florence
Healthcare has dramatically changed in recent years, and physician recruitment has evolved with it. Even with these changes, success in physician staffing still depends on a strategic plan that incorporates seven key elements:
- A verified need for physicians
- An analysis of the physician market
- A competitive financial package
- Create the contract
- An extensive sourcing and screening effort
- Buttoned up interview and close process
- An effective retention plan
Physician Needs Analysis
Starting a search without a verified need can lead to a lot of unwanted expense and opportunity cost. There are a variety of ways to determine physician need including the GMENAC physician to population ratios, and consulting groups who can assist in determining how many and what types of physicians are needed in a service area. This data can prove very persuasive to physicians being recruited to the area.
The Physician Market
With over 750,000 practicing physicians in the United States it may seem like there is large pool of candidates to choose from. However, it is important to note how many physicians are available in the specialty that you need. Where are these physicians located, and what are they looking for in a practice? These questions must be addressed at the front end of the search process to help determine realistic candidate parameters. Statistics show that at about 25% of the physicians are foreign medical graduates, and half of physicians prefer communities that have a population of at least 100k. If your organization is seeking a physician, you should objectively measure your opportunity in the context of the national physician market.
Competitive Financial Package
Often clients will mention that their financial package is locally competitive. In today’s market, candidates have access to data that provides average salaries, benefits, etc. across the nation. Much like a house that is listed above market price, your search could be overlooked if you are not staying competitive with the rest of the industry. Four day work weeks, no call, and other quality of life benefits are helpful to promote if the finances cannot be changed.
Create the contract
Taking a cue from Stephen Covey’s effective habits, begin with the end in mind. Successful recruiters have always had the advantage of developing the physician contract prior to beginning the search. A sample contract is important in both selling the opportunity and avoiding miscommunication after the interview. As more physicians become employed, the contracts between hospitals and physicians should be less complicated than in years past.
Sourcing and Screening
There are thousands of professionals today that earn their living by recruiting physicians. There is approximately one physician recruiter for every 4 graduating medical residents. The supply and demand is certainly on the physician’s side. A strategic sourcing campaign incorporating direct mail, email, advertising, job boards, residency outreach and social media is a must. Social media and other recent advances in recruiting based software have made the task of reaching physicians much easier. However, contacting them is only half the battle. Once sourced, physicians must be thoroughly screened so that all the financial and professional considerations are discussed. Determining if they are the right match for you, and ensuring there is interest on the candidate side is both an art and a science. The dedication to time on this step can make or break the search process.
Interview and Close Process
When properly executed, the interview itself is an opportunity to confirm what has already been discussed with the candidate. The details of the position, call schedule, financial package, administrative duties and other matters should be agreed upon before the visit. When both the candidate and the client are highly informed of both situations, the interview becomes much more of a social match. A surprise to the candidate or client during the interview generally results in a negative outcome. Candidates and clients should never be pressured to make a decision after the interview. However, it should be clear from the beginning of the process that a timely decision is expected. Most clients and candidates know whether the opportunity is right for one another within days of the interview. As a client you would not want to put an entire search process on hold for someone who is unwilling to make a timely decision.
Most employees want to feel appreciated, and physicians are no different. In the Merritt Hawkins’ white paper “Ten Keys to Physician Retention” it is observed that the most important aspect of a physician retention program is the practice environment. Physicians generally will stay in a setting where they have quick access to the equipment they need, patient data, reasonable schedules and professional colleagues. Even perks as seemingly small as a parking space, can become an important piece of the retention puzzle. In addition, communication between physicians and administration is essential.
The steps above indicate the importance of the front end work that takes place before candidates are sourced. Without this preparation most physician searches are bound to take much longer than necessary, or fail. Organizations that start with a clear plan, including an understanding of the types of physicians they need, how much they need to offer, and how the candidates should be sourced and interviewed have a much better chance of success.
Tom Florence is the Senior Vice President of Recruiting for Merritt Hawkins, an AMN Healthcare company and can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo credit: ThinkStock Images