Nowhere is the physician shortage felt more acutely than hospitals and healthcare organizations in rural communities. According to the AAMC, while 20% of the American population lives in rural areas, only 11% of physicians practice there – and that percentage may be shrinking as rural physicians retire and fewer graduating medical students seek jobs in rural areas.
This predicament then begs the question: how can rural healthcare organizations attract and win over physician candidates? Rural facilities may lack access to the extensive physician candidate pool necessary for an effective recruitment process. Implementing a 100% digital marketing strategy, which is designed to quickly and strategically cast a wide net to find potential physician candidates for their open positions, would greatly benefit rural healthcare.
This solution is exactly what Director of Business Development at Jackson Physician Search, Ben Stajduhar proposed to the leadership team of a small hospital in northern Montana. Situated in a town with less than 10,000 people, the organization was having trouble identifying candidates for a Hematology/Oncology opening. Although this particular physician job had been open for over a year, the leadership team still declined Ben’s offer to help. They preferred to work with contingent firms and didn’t want to commit to a dedicated physician recruitment partner like Jackson Physician Search, fearing that working with only one firm would limit their candidate reach.
Ready to Take a Chance
Ben decided to keep in touch as the search continued. “I was committed to building the relationship,” Ben says, “I wanted them to know we were there as a long-term partner whether it was for this search or another.”
Eventually, the hospital ran out of options and realized they needed to take a new approach. Search Consultant Misha Fabick met with the hospital’s VP, and the two established a good working relationship. Misha impressed the VP with how many well-qualified and interested candidates she was able to present, but ultimately, the hospital filled the position on its own.
One Physician Placed, One More to Go
With the Hematology/Oncology position filled, the hospital turned its attention to an OBGYN vacancy. Because Ben and Misha had earned the hospital’s confidence and trust, they quickly shifted gears to assist them in filling this urgent need. Together they outlined the job requirements and determined the best candidate acquisition strategy. From there, Misha quickly started sourcing candidates.
Digital Physician Recruiting
A master of her craft, Misha knew exactly which tools to leverage to get immediate results. She turned to Doximity, the largest online networking site for physicians, and carefully worded the physician job description to identify OBGYNs already working in Montana. She knew the process moves significantly faster for candidates already practicing in the state, as arranging travel for interviews is easier and licensing complications are not an issue.
Misha immediately connected with Dr. M, who recently moved her family from the East Coast to Montana in pursuit of a slower pace of life. However, Dr. M had found herself in a practice that was too slow for her liking. Although Misha’s client was also located in a small town, it served as the medical hub for several communities, averaging nearly 400 deliveries annually. With that in mind, Dr. M was interested.
“Rock Solid” Physician Interview Process
Misha presented Dr. M to the client, and from there, the process moved quickly.
“I presented Dr. M on a Wednesday, and the hospital’s leadership was on the phone with her by Friday,” says Misha, “There was a Zoom call a few days later, and her on-site interview was scheduled to take place just 12 days after I first submitted her.”
“The hospital’s recruitment process was rock solid,” Misha continues, “I often have to coach clients on the interview process. Scheduling can be a logistical nightmare, and it stalls the process to the point that candidates lose interest or pursue other opportunities. This client knew they couldn’t risk that. They moved quickly and were ready to impress her with everything they had.”
The effort did not go unnoticed – Dr. M was most certainly impressed. She and her family arrived to find a thoughtfully curated welcome basket at their hotel. She started the day meeting with key people at the hospital, and meanwhile, her husband and son took a tour of the entire town, including the high school and recreational spots. The two itineraries came together that evening at a dinner with the hospital’s leaders, who were ready to verbally express their intentions to make Dr. M an offer – one that she would end up happily accepting.
The Keys to Rural Physician Recruitment Success
Both Ben and Misha are thrilled to have achieved such a quick win for this rural Montana client and to have had the opportunity to show them why working with Jackson Physician Search is different from working with other search firms, especially contingent firms whose strategy is often to forward as many CVs as possible regardless of fit.
The strategic digital net she cast proved crucial for sourcing quality physician candidates who were both a strong clinical and cultural fit, saving the client valuable time sorting through CVs and positioning them to achieve long-term, physician retention. Misha also credits her client for having a seamless recruitment process that allowed Dr. M to quickly move through the hiring pipeline – going from their initial call to an offer in a matter of weeks is nothing short of impressive.
“It really is a testament to their process,” Misha explains, “They know who they are and what they need to do to win over candidates.”
So, what can other rural health organizations learn from their success? To start, hospitals in remote areas can significantly improve their odds of acquiring the right fit by putting a swift and seamless physician recruitment process in motion as soon as their ideal candidate is presented. And of course, the most effective way to source those potential candidates is through a 100% digital recruitment strategy.
If your organization needs help identifying candidates or streamlining your physician recruitment process, a Jackson Physician Search Recruiter would love to help. Contact us today.
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