Practice Notes

Four strategies to hone your physician recruitment process

Anita Joseph, adapted from Elevating Physician Recruitment

Many of you have told us there are fewer “free agent” MDs out there, and this trend is likely to continue.

According to a 2012 survey, 63% of Merritt Hawkins search assignments were for hospital-employed physicians, up from 11% in 2001. A 2011 survey by the same company found that 32% of final-year medical students prefer to be hospital employed, and only 1% prefer to begin in a solo practice setting.

It remains difficult—and paramount—to pick the right MDs, however. To help you in your search, we’ve culled four of our best tactics for overcoming recruitment and staffing challenges.

Define ideal candidate attributes

Leading institutions invest considerable time and energy in understanding which candidate attributes to look for in recruitment candidates. Beyond the clinical training, professional experience, and performance history included on curriculum vitae, these groups use lists of traits—such as work ethic, relationship skills, and alignment with the group's ethos—to measure strategic and cultural fit.

Right-size candidate pipelines

To ensure a search effort produces enough candidates to fill the group’s recruitment need, recruiters must know how aggressively to pursue each recruitment approach.

Fortunately, candidate “fall out” is fairly predictable. Recruiters can use historical pass-through rates to determine how many candidates they must reach at each stage to fill vacancies. Using conversion numbers, recruiters can establish aggressive productivity goals and manage progress toward the desired number of placements throughout the process.

Make consensus-driven contracting decisions

The final phase of the process involves deciding whether to extend formal offers to candidates who were not given offers during their site visits, and determining how (if at all) the standard contract should be modified to assuage any concerns about candidate qualifications or fit.

A committee of physician stakeholders, recruiters, and hospital administrators should be convened to make decisions quickly and to ensure the consensus of all individuals with key roles in integrating new hires.

Provide support throughout the on-boarding process

Many groups also suffer unnecessary levels of turnover because they provide inadequate support to newly hired physicians. Groups must take a more proactive approach to ensure new hires are comfortable and pathing toward the success story advertised in the interview process. Waiting for new physicians to proactively diagnose their problems and communicate their needs invites failure, because recruits will often suffer in silence until they decide to leave.

There are three periods of a new physician’s tenure that require active management: from signing to start date, from start date to the 90-day mark, and from the 90-day mark onward. Each stage requires different supports to sustain physician engagement and accelerate integration into the practice environment and community.

Next, Check Out These Resources

For case studies of how progressive organizations are using these tactics to drive physician recruitment, read the Health Care Advisory Board's study, “Elevating Physician Recruitment.”


Learn why physician recruiters are not just looking for physicians who are great clinicians—but for doctors who demonstrate an ability to "work well with others."


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Elevating Physician Recruitment

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