3 Costly Physician Recruitment Mistakes

Having a working physician recruitment model is becoming increasingly important for hospitals and health systems. Even though many physicians are considering employment, competition between hospitals for employed physicians is on the rise. Coupled with the fact that the physician shortage is expected to reach 130,000 by 2015, physicians are in high demand for employment.  

Tony Stajduhar is the president of the permanent recruitment division of Jackson & Coker, a national physician recruitment firm. He says that more than 85 percent of the searches his firm does are hospital employed searches, while just a few years ago, searches for independent contractors were more popular.

Mr. Stajduhar has been recruiting physicians since 1986, and consequently has seen hospitals and health systems make a variety of mistakes in the recruitment process. Here, he shares three common mistakes that hospitals and health systems cannot afford to make in today's market.

1. Being unprepared to sign physicians. At the very beginning of the recruitment process, Mr. Stajduhar recommends that hospital executives think about this scenario: If the perfect physician walked in the door right now, are you prepared to sign him or her today? "Many hospitals we talk to are not prepared to take [a physician] when they find one," he says.

He recommends that hospitals be able to draw up a contract and be ready to sign any physician within two weeks of an interview. "Anything longer than two weeks, the odds of successfully placing the physician goes down dramatically," Mr. Stajduhar says. He even recommends having a base contract drawn up before an interview.

2. Expecting to see the future. Mr. Stajduhar says executives need to focus on recruiting one candidate at a time instead of falling into the trap of comparing current candidates with candidates that might come along in the future. "Interview candidates on their own merit and whether or not you think they will be a good fit," Mr. Stajduhar says. "I sometimes see recruiters trying to look too far in the future. Fight that temptation," he says.

Mr. Stajduhar urges the recruitment team to "play the cards" that are in front of them, so to speak, and to not hold off on a hiring decision just because they see the CV of another physician who may or may not ever interview.

3. Being closed to things outside of the box. Physician recruiters need to keep their minds open on how to fill vacant physician spots, according to Mr. Stajduhar. "There are no 'perfect' candidates, just as I have yet to have doctor say they found the 'perfect' opportunity," Mr. Stajduhar says. As the demand for physicians increases, hospitals and health systems need to get creative with what can work for their medical staff plan.

He gave an example of a hospital experiencing difficulty finding a family practitioner for a medical group, but instead finds a nurse practitioner that wants to live in the area. "We ask if you at least want to consider that," he says. He mentions that physician assistant and nurse practitioner schools are growing.

He also says hospitals should consider hiring physicians who might be further in their career, because in today's market, physicians are choosing to work longer than in the past.

Mr. Stajduhar left recruitment teams with one final piece of advice: Get a head start. The competition is fierce for most specialties. The more lead time you have the better. "It all takes time," he says.

More Articles on Physician Recruitment:

Using Locum Tenens to Lower Physician Attrition Rates
6 Primary Care Imperatives for Health Systems
Employing Physicians: Leverage the Honeymoon to Ensure Success for the Future

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