Best Practices for Recruiting New Physicians

June 27, 2013

Recruiting new physicians is challenging due to healthcare reform and the physician shortage. Here's how to make your practice stand apart.

Healthcare organizations must take strategic action - early - to recruit physicians emerging from training.

The rise of physician employment, integration of medical practices, and change in reimbursement structures will continue to pressure healthcare organizations to find the best talent for their organizations.

Findings from Cejka Search's annual Residents and Fellows Survey indicate that new physicians are looking for and choosing their first practice opportunity earlier than ever, so it is critical for practices to begin an outreach strategy tailored to the needs of early-career physicians earlier as well. 

Here are some of the key findings from the Residents and Fellows Survey, and how they can help your practice ensure recruiting success in 2014 and beyond:

Screen Well For Motivation
As the new generation of physicians seeks work/life balance, their practice choices will be heavily influenced by family needs. Proximity to family and family interests will be a factor in determining where new physicians decide to work.

Keep in mind that the rise of two-physician couples (almost one-third of respondents to the Residents and Fellows Survey have a spouse or significant other who is also physician) may affect your ability to retain a new physician. If one spouse accepts a position while the other is completing a training program in the same city, for instance, turnover may occur when the couple decides to relocate to an area where they have personal ties.

Use behavioral interviewing techniques and probing questions to avoid similar situations and determine why the physician is considering your practice opportunity. Does the candidate plan to establish roots and stay for the long term?

Use Technology to Your Advantage
Using traditional advertising to promote job opportunities is no longer sufficient to reach these increasingly tech-savvy physicians. Residents and fellows now consult their e-mail inboxes and online job boards when looking for their first practice.

Make sure your job posts and e-mails are optimized to appeal to young physicians. Highlight the advanced technology your practice uses, such as robotics, telemedicine, and EHRs. New physicians have been trained to use these technologies.

Offer Lifestyle Benefits 
Newly trained physicians who are ready to settle down, buy a house, and start a family will look for a compensation package with benefits and incentives that enable them to meet these goals. Many new physicians look for compensation packages that include the following: 
• Two-year compensation guarantee: This standard offering is essential to attract new physicians, who need income security as they ramp up their practice.
• Signing bonus: This one-time perk has now become expected. Most residents and fellows expect a bonus between $15,000 and $24,000 paid at signing or start-date.
• Compensation: Consult industry benchmarks to make sure your compensation ranges are on par with regional and national standards. If you have a location that is not ideal, be prepared to make up for it in your compensation package.
• Scheduling: Flexible options will indicate to young physicians that the opportunity to work a four-day work week, job sharing, or part time may be available once they establish a patient base and become productive members of your team.

Understanding the job search behaviors and decision-making factors of residents and fellows is essential to implementing a strategy for recruiting new physicians. Is your practice prepared for the challenge? 

David Cornett is Senior Executive Vice President at Cejka Search, a nationally recognized physician, health care executive, advanced practice and allied health search firm providing services exclusively to the health care industry for more than 30 years. Email him here.