Four Considerations for Practices Attempting to Recruit New Physicians

May 27, 2014
Nick Weeks

Finding a new physician for your medical practice is difficult enough - finding one that fits your culture may seem impossible at times. Here are some tips.

Finding a new physician for your medical practice is difficult enough - finding one that fits your culture may seem impossible at times. However, this is an important element in making sure your practice remains stable and retention remains high.

Being understaffed can be stressful and may lead to long patient wait times, physicians picking up extra shifts, and temporarily reduced revenue, but it's even worse to hire a physician just to "fill the need."

A lot of time, money, and effort go into recruiting and hiring a physician, as well as into replacing one. Taking the time to recruit and interview someone who is actually interested in your culture versus shoehorning any warm body into your care model will go a long way.

This may sound like common sense, but the healthcare industry sees a surprising number of physician separations chalked up to, "It wasn't a good fit." Here's how to avoid this problem:

Identify your culture, know it, and use it. Every medical practice has a culture, but not all use it effectively when recruiting. You need to have a clear understanding of your practice culture, including what’s working and what’s not. Start off by identifying what you believe your practice culture is, and then talk with your current staff to gather their impressions. If you see a difference between the two, sit down with leadership and determine what needs to (and what doesn’t need to) change.

Sell your culture to potential physicians. When recruiting, ask physicians two simple questions at the beginning of the interview: “What are you looking for in a practice and personally?” and, “Rank these five areas from most important to least important - work/life balance, money, challenges, benefits, and work environment.” The answers will give you a good idea of what’s important to the physician, whether your practice matches up, and if it does, what areas to focus on during the interview. For example, if a candidate says he is looking for an opportunity that will provide work/life balance and a collaborative team environment, highlight those two areas as much as possible. You can discuss compensation and how great your benefits are but, if those aren’t the candidate's priorities, your recruitment efforts will be significantly less effective. Additionally, make sure you are excited when you discuss your culture. All too often, hiring managers don’t put enough enthusiasm into “selling” the practice. If you’re not excited about your organization, why would the person you’re interviewing be excited?

Don’t compromise on your positive culture. It may be challenging to find a physician that fits your culture and you may feel pressured to hire someone to fill the need. Don’t do this. Bringing in someone who doesn’t fit your culture could be devastating on multiple levels. More established physicians and staff may become disgruntled and leave due to a negative presence in the office.  Patient satisfaction will also fall, as mismatched physicians tend to take their disgruntlement into patient appointments. Whether it takes two, 10, or 20 interviews, remember that, in the end, it’s worth the wait to find the right fit for your practice. If you fill your need with a candidate who matches your culture, you can expect a long-term fit because she will be somewhere she enjoys and appreciates.

Remember: There are exceptions to the rules. There is one exception to the above guidance: newly established practices. Starting a practice is difficult and you might not yet have the resources to put together a package of compensation, benefits, and technology that will attract exactly the type of physician you want. This is the only time that it is advisable to compromise and take a chance on someone you’re not sure about. At these early stages, your physicians and staff help you develop your culture, so it’s a necessary risk. However, never compromise patient satisfaction and care. Never hire a physician that you fear your patient base will dislike.