How to Keep Recruitment Tactics in Line With Physician Preferences

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Over the last decade, physicians' practice preferences have changed. Largely, fewer physicians are seeking independent practice, now preferring to become employed by a large medical group, hospital or health system.

A recent survey conducted by Cejka Search also revealed a significant link between physicians' practice preference and their families. For example, according to the survey, 76 percent of 2013 residents and fellows say proximity to family will be a factor in deciding where they practice. Further, 67 percent say their spouse or significant other's interests will impact their job choice.

Another major change seen in physician preference is when they are finding their first job. The Cejka Search survey showed that 52 percent of residents graduating in 2013 had contracts signed by March, compared to just 31 percent of 2012 graduates.

So how can hospitals update their recruiting tactics to match evolving physician preferences? Here, Lori Schutte, president of Cejka Search, shares some physician recruitment tips that hospitals and health systems can use to better match physicians' desires.

Including the family

As the survey data shows, including a spouse, significant other or family in the physician recruitment effort is more important than ever. "If there is a family or significant other, they are part of the process and they are an important part," Ms. Schutte says. "If a physician loves the opportunity but their other half doesn't love it, they either won't take the job to begin with, or if they do [take the job], they won't stay."

In order to draw the candidate — and the family — to the job opportunity, Ms. Schutte recommends the recruiters do some research. "Take a little time on the front end to understand the needs of the significant other, spouse and children," she says. For instance, if a hospital's physician recruiter knows if a spouse needs a job, or a child needs special needs education facilities, the organization can highlight job opportunities and schools in the area, strengthening the recruitment effort in the long run.

Beyond the initial recruitment effort, once a physician has accepted a position, it is imperative for hospitals to stay in touch with the significant other or family. "To retain [the physician], you have to get [the family] incorporated into the community," Ms. Schutte says. This can involve anything from showing them the best stores, salons and dry cleaners in the area to getting them involved in local groups and clubs that pique their interest.

Recruiting in residency and beyond

In order to get the cream of the crop of newly minted physicians, hospitals and health
systems need to be prepared to start the recruitment process early, when the physicians are still residents. Starting recruitment before physicians leave their training programs will give hospitals a competitive edge, Ms. Schutte says.  

To recruit residents, hospitals and health systems should tweak – or completely change – the strategies they use to woo physicians already in practice. "A practicing physician has different needs than a resident," she says. "Come up with a package that's equal in value but designed differently and tailored to a physician’s career stage."

For instance, residents most likely have around $165,000 worth of debt from medical schools, while most practicing physicians have little to no debt. Ms. Schutte recommends hospitals personalize compensation packages to include loan repayment or a stipend for the younger physicians. On the other hand, a retention bonus or larger signing bonus may be a more attractive benefit to attract practicing physicians.

Using what's tried and true

Even though physician preferences do change over time, and hospitals should update recruitment tactics accordingly, there are some strategies that have stood the test of time that all hospitals should consider deploying in order to be successful in today's competitive market.

Include the right people. When a physician visits a hospital or a system for an interview, the organization needs to include the right people in the process. "You want to include people in the interview and in social settings with the candidates [who] are going to be your best recruiters," explains Ms. Schutte. "You want them to speak highly of the vision of the hospital or system."

Keep an eye on the little things. "Everyone thinks the big things matter, but it's the attention to detail that you incorporate into the process [that counts]," Ms. Schutte says. This can range from how the cleanliness of the hotel at which the candidate is staying to offering them a personalized itinerary and picking them up from the airport. "[Make] sure all of their needs are met," she says.

When hospitals and health systems keep the changing preferences of physicians in mind and remember recruitment fundamentals, they are more likely to successfully recruit physicians in today's competitive market.

More Articles on Physician Recruitment:
6 Tips for Recruiting Physicians to Rural Hospitals
Recruiting Physicians Still in Residency: 2 Necessities
5 Stories About Physician Engagement, Recruitment Strategies

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