Reimagining provider recruitment: The time is now

The competition for hiring physicians is more fierce than ever — a result of COVID, the Great Resignation, evolving employee preferences and various economic trends affecting the supply and demand of clinicians. As a result, healthcare leaders and recruiters across the country are scrambling to find clinical workers, fill positions and retain these individuals.

In an executive roundtable at Becker's Hospital Review's 13th Annual Meeting sponsored by Provider Solutions & Development (PS&D), Rachelle Daugherty, CEO, and Lisa Scardina, Chief of Brand and Partner Development, both of PS&D, led a discussion about trends in provider recruitment and what healthcare systems are doing to help mitigate challenges.

Provider Solutions & Development supports physician recruitment for more than 40 organizations across the country and expects to place about 1,500 providers this year. Working with so many providers across all specialties gives PS&D a unique vantage point of trends in the U.S. healthcare industry.

Three key takeaways were:

1. The provider shortage is critical and growing. The physician shortage is expected to reach 124,000 by 2034, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The imbalance of supply and demand varies by state but overall is growing worse. AAMC projects 34 of 50 states will have physician shortages with a grade of "C" or worse by 2030.

There are many reasons for the shortage of physicians, but the main one is the aging physician workforce. “More than half of practicing physicians are over age 50,” Ms. Daugherty said. Burnout also remains a major factor; younger providers entering the workforce are insistent on greater flexibility and balance. That's led to a need for 1.3 to 1.7 millennial workers for every one Boomer or Gen X-er, Ms. Daugherty said.

As a result of the physician shortage, access to healthcare is likely to become more limited, affecting the quality and equity of care delivery and care outcomes.

2. In addition to thinking about recruitment, healthcare organizations must focus on retention. "Retention is recruitment," Ms. Daugherty said. "You really have to get the right provider who's going to stick [with your organization]."

Recruiting the right provider was a key theme for many roundtable participants. As participants introduced themselves, several said they’d registered for other sessions but chose to attend the PS&D session because their staffing challenges are so acute, they felt this session would be more valuable.  

"It costs a lot of money to recruit and train new positions," a senior financial director from the Midwest said. "Figuring out how to retain providers and keep them happy in our organization is definitely a priority for us."

3. Mind the gap. The needs of today's healthcare workers have transformed. Millennial workers are much more likely to demand a better work-life balance than their predecessors. They also want to have upfront conversations about leadership tracks, and they expect their employer to provide technology that performs. "Gen Z, especially, and our Millennials are expecting technology that works, and healthcare hasn’t been great at that," Ms. Daugherty said.

Recruiting and retaining physicians has become more challenging than ever. That means hospitals and health systems need to stay abreast of trends in finding new employees. Partnering with a provider recruitment expert such as Provider Solutions & Development can help organizations prepare for and excel at modern healthcare recruiting.

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