Practice Notes

Improve your physician recruiting in 4 steps

by Hamza Hasan and Sarah O'Hara

Competition for physician talent has gotten intense.

As just one indicator of the current market's frenzy, consider that 50% of final-year residents surveyed in 2017 had been contacted more than 100 times about potential practice opportunities, up from just 6% in 2008. And competition for the narrower pool of candidates willing to work in rural or other "less desirable" geographic areas is even more difficult.

How can your medical group cut through the noise and win physician candidates over? Consider the following four requirements for successful recruiting in today's market.

1. Be realistic about market conditions

Failure to clearly define job requirements and to consider how candidates are likely to respond can lead to poorly scoped and executed searches, frustrating candidates and recruiters alike.

Before starting any pursuit, evaluate whether a new physician is truly needed—could you deploy an advanced practitioner (AP) or make existing roles more efficient instead? In addition, develop a detailed understanding of job parameters (e.g., location, hours, compensation) and assess whether any of those factors may deter potential candidates.

2. Create a pipeline of viable candidates

Strategies that worked in the past to source candidates, such as advertising in medical journals, may no longer be effective in reaching the "millennials" who comprise the bulk of today's physician recruits. Instead, medical groups should use a range of outreach resources—including online job boards, social media, and conference attendance—and tailor communications to a generation accustomed to the bullet-point brevity of Twitter and Facebook.

Rural hospitals and medical groups will likely need to go a step further in sourcing candidates. Successful rural recruiters work to grow the number of rural youth who choose a medical career; target physicians who want to help the underserved; and tout the benefits of a smaller practice environment.

How to keep millennials through their first three years

3. Outsell the competition

While it's important to offer market-competitive compensation, physician pay is rarely a true differentiator in recruiting battles. Instead, what matters to millennials is work-life balance, which should now be considered a job fundamental, not a perk. Where possible, accommodate requests for nontraditional schedules and strive to make everyday practice more sustainable through team-based care and efficiency initiatives.

Do not underestimate how much the recruitment process itself can affect candidate perceptions of a job opportunity, particularly during on-site visits. Pay attention to even the most minor details of candidate experience in order to communicate organizational competency, interest, and respect.

4. Don't ignore onboarding

Finally, remember that successful recruitment doesn't end with a signed contract. To avoid expensive early turnover, the best organizations dedicate staff to help physicians navigate preemployment verifications; offer in-depth programs to teach medical group culture and standards; and invest in formal one-to-one mentor relationships.

 

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More best practices for attracting and keeping the workforce you need

Two trends make finding and keeping the right staff more difficult for hospitals and health systems than it has been in years:

1. It's a candidate's market. Qualified candidates have their pick of jobs at nearby hospitals and at newer market entrants, like retail clinics.

2. Early career millennials are engaged but not yet loyal to their organization. Staff engagement tracks closely with loyalty for staff age 35+ with more than three years of tenure.

Use this infographic as a quick guide to the best practices that will help your organization attract and retain staff.

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