Best Practices for Physician Recruiting

Senior Director of Marketing

No matter what specialty or practice you’re recruiting physicians for, the marketplace is going to be competitive, experts agree. Not only is the general population aging and requiring more care, but as older physicians age and retire out of the system, there are even fewer providers to meet that increased demand, says Eric Dickerson, Managing Director at Kaye/Bassman International.

All that competition means that recruiting efforts can quickly grow pricey -- but not as expensive as making a bad hire. “Recruiting and hiring a new physician can be an expensive process, but hiring the wrong physician is even more costly: hundreds of thousands of dollars, conservatively speaking,” says Brett Wells, Chief Research Officer at Talent Plus.

As such, it’s vital to ensure your recruiting process is top-notch. Here are some tips to help you recruit physicians more effectively.

Be Patient

The process of successfully recruiting and onboarding the right physician can take a long time, says Ashley Billman, Director of Talent Acquisition for OurHealth, where she manages the physician recruitment process. Physicians may take several months to make a decision about whether to change positions. They build deep relationships with their patients over time and feel a commitment to continue providing them care.

That prolongs the transition time between jobs,” Billman says. “After a physician has made the difficult decision to make a move and leave their current patients, they are then faced with having to give a three- to six-month notice to their current employer.”

Understand the Real Motivators

Physicians aren’t looking just for money. They may be looking for a certain kind of work environment, a particular call or shift schedule, or a community to live in, Dickerson says. Dig into what those motivators might be for someone who could fill your open positions, and highlight the strengths of your department, organization and community to attract the right fit. Freely share what makes your culture unique.

Remember that you’re recruiting the physician’s partner or family, as well.

Screen Early

Don’t wait until late in the process to screen your candidate, Dickerson says. Instead, do it on the front end so you don’t lead a candidate on and then have to dismiss him if the background checks uncover something unpleasant. Contact your screening partner early and get the process started quickly. You’ll save everyone time and money.

Check References

If you are looking at candidates who are just coming out of a fellowship or residency, talk to key references or the program director, Dickerson says. For more-established candidates, follow up on personal references and dig into whether they have any malpractice claims. Again, it’s more efficient to do this early on in the process rather than later, so start your credentialing as soon as possible.

Ask Smart Questions

Use a structured set of interview questions to predict performance on the job, Wells says. Some useful questions include:

  • How would you describe your approach to collaboration on multidisciplinary teams?
  • What is your approach to improving business metrics?
  • How do you deliver patient-centered care that is effective, efficient and compassionate?
  • How do you improve through self-evaluation and lifelong learning?

Physician recruiting is a long process, and it’s vital to get it right. With the expected increase in hiring that healthcare organizations will have to face, they need to review their physician recruiting processes to ensure they’re efficient and effective.