Three Strategies for Improving Physician Recruitment Efforts

November 9, 2013

Physician recruitment for private practices will only become more challenging in the years ahead. Use these three strategies to improve your recruitment efforts.

Recruiting physicians continues to be a difficult process for practice managers across the country. One major recruiting challenge has been the recent shift from private practice employment to hospital employment, with healthcare staffing firm Jackson Healthcare reporting that 39 percent of physicians younger than 45 have never worked in a private practice.

Further complicating recruitment is the physician shortage. Online healthcare recruiting solutions provider HealtheCareers Network projects the current physician shortage to increase by 24 percent through the year 2020.

To continue attracting talent to your practice in the short term and in the future, consider refining your recruitment efforts by incorporating these three strategies.

1. Cast a Wide Net

If you cast a wide net by building a large candidate pipeline during your initial search, you won’t have to start from scratch as candidates drop out of the running.

If you’ve conducted recent recruitment efforts, use the drop-off rates from your previous searches to determine how many candidates should advance through each stage of the process.

When there are no recent searches to refer to, don’t narrow your search to only those candidates who check every box. Instead, identify the desirable traits of successful physicians in your practice - think work ethic, background, and level of experience - and then target prospects with most of those same traits. Over time, your physicians can help fill the remaining gaps by mentoring new hires and shaping them into ideal team members.

2. Understand What Sets Your Practice Apart

In some ways, recruiting new physicians is like attracting new patients to your practice - you have to determine what sets your practice apart and then focus a candidate’s attention on those positive aspects.

Physicians want to know they’ll receive the support they need to succeed. So begin by emphasizing any competitive advantages, such as EHRs and mentors for new hires.

Office location is another positive that can attract ideal candidates. Make note of any outdoor amenities in your area, and promote cultural or entertainment landmarks as well. Don’t be discouraged if your practice isn’t situated near a pro sports stadium or arena or if your city doesn’t have a museum or zoo. Not all physicians are looking to practice in a major city.

That said, rural practices face an uphill battle. A 2011 survey by physician search and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins found that only six percent of final-year residents preferred to practice in communities with a population of 50,000 or less.

While you cannot control your practice’s location, you can gain a recruitment advantage by offering competitive compensation and benefits such as flexible scheduling. HealtheCareers Network found that the median annual income for primary-care physicians in the United States is $202,392, and compensation for physician specialists is $356,885.

3. Properly Support Your New Hires

Once a physician accepts your job offer, the recruitment process isn’t finished. Many of the practices that have suffered high physician turnover rates lost their newly hired physicians because they didn’t provide adequate support.

Practice managers and staff can help new hires feel more comfortable during their first weeks and months on the job by maintaining an open line of communication. Doing so will allow the new physicians to voice their concerns and communicate their needs, instead of growing dissatisfied and leaving for another opportunity.

Physician recruitment for private practices will only become more challenging in the years ahead. Fortunately, you can lure talent away from hospitals and healthcare systems and keep your practice staffed with the right physicians by casting a wide net, understanding and promoting the positives that set your practice apart, and properly supporting new hires.