Top Physician Recruiting Mistakes Made by Medical Practices

June 24, 2014

Don't make these small errors that cause many medical practices to miss out on promising candidates.

Time after time in our consulting practice, we have seen clients lose promising physician candidates due to simple mistakes in the interview process - chief among them being delays in providing feedback. This can be attributed to numerous issues, including hiring managers underestimating response times, management disagreement on the focus and scope of the role, and general indecisiveness between the decision makers. The issue is that none of those internal considerations matter to a physician who is looking for a new opportunity.

We all know that physician recruiting is a process that is equal parts financial and cultural when it comes to finding the perfect fit. Before beginning that process, management must have an understanding of the type of candidate they’re looking for and what need in the practice they’re hoping to satisfy. Once this has been established, it will facilitate a timely recruiting process - and ease communication between the management team and the physician or physician recruiter. 

If you delay too much in communicating with the physician after you begin the recruitment process, he may feel you are not organized or don’t value him as a provider. This opens up opportunities for your competition, even though your practice might be (or might have been) the physician’s first choice. By communicating consistently, and hitting the deadlines you promised for providing feedback, you’re demonstrating the strength of the opportunity. And this mindset should be continued through the first week of employment.

Let’s also address common mistakes made during the interview process that lead to candidates walking away. Make sure all of the parties that the candidate is told will be involved in the interview are going to be present, and verify that you have the correct scheduled time. It reflects poorly if people are unexpectedly absent for the interview, are unprepared to speak with the physician, or the meeting starts late because someone forgot about the appointment. Of course, things come up in a busy medical practice; but the candidate may assume that issues of unpreparedness and disorganization will affect other things, such as future paychecks.

Be prepared to “wow” the provider, as well. This doesn’t mean you have to roll out the red carpet or have a limo pick her up. It simply means your focus should be 100 percent on her when she is there. Focus on translating the strengths and needs of your practice effectively, so she has a clear understanding of the need and expectations. Have some materials gathered that she can leave with, in order to give her a sense of belonging and value. Always be asking yourself, “What are other groups doing in their process?”

Consider sending a questionnaire to the physician, post-interview, to find out how he felt about his experiences. This can be anonymous, as some physicians won’t give full, honest thoughts if they have to provide their name. Have the questionnaire broken up into sections such as pre-interview, phone interview, in-person interview, and follow-up. That way you can specifically see which areas are working and what needs to be fine tuned.

If you know you want to make an offer to the physician, don’t wait. Don’t stall the process by waiting until the candidate's state license is cleared or you have every piece of necessary paperwork. Instead, have content added to the offer letter, stating it is contingent on whatever the possible hold up may be. You will then have a happy physician and you will have filled a need.

Make sure your offer makes sense to the physician. Have everything clearly explained and laid out. This is another area where physicians fall off very quickly - when they don’t have a clear understanding of what they are getting paid or what the expectations are. A helpful hint would be to go over the compensation, benefits, and contract with them in person and cover questions right then and there. I have often heard stories where physicians are e-mailed a productivity-based compensation model and have no idea what they actually have to do to earn their money.  

We’re all aware there is a physician shortage that’s only going to increase (at least in the short term). Couple this with the oncoming “silver tsunami” of baby boomers entering our health system in large numbers, and you have a recipe for a very competitive physician recruitment space. By creating a focused, succinct, recruiting process, you’ll ensure your practice has all the resources it needs to provide great patient care.