Physician Recruitment Amid the Pandemic – Keeping Your 2021 Staffing Plan on Track

By

Prior to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, a June poll conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) showed that the majority of medical practices (87 percent) have recovered at least some patient volume since COVID-19 took hold in the U.S., and almost half of those reported patient volumes to at least 75 percent of their pre-pandemic levels.

Today, the pandemic is charting in the wrong direction with some states seeing record increases in new cases, especially among younger Americans. Because every day brings new data points, it’s challenging for healthcare administrators to reliably predict the impact on patient volumes, staffing needs and revenue projections.

What is important to acknowledge is that any decrease in current physician staffing requirements is temporary. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently reminded us that the physician shortage is going to continue to challenge the industry’s ability to meet patient demand. For administrators who are understandably stretched thin during the pandemic, taking their eyes off physician recruitment could put their 2021 staffing plan at risk. Let’s take a deeper dive, so you can keep your staffing plan on track.

Focus on the Long Game

It was in June when the AAMC released new information confirming long-held concerns about the physician shortage. It is now estimating the U.S. is facing a deficit of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians in both primary and specialty care by 2033 – higher than previously reported.

The sixth annual study was conducted prior to the rise of COVID-19, and AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, posits that “the gap between the country’s increasing health care demands and the supply of doctors to adequately respond has become more evident as we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The AAMC study indicated a greater shortage projection, particularly in subspecialties, due to an updated estimate of physicians planning to retire earlier than previously modeled.

Additionally, it showed that more than two out of five active physicians will be 65 or older within the next 10 years. Shifts in retirement patterns – including physicians choosing to retire earlier or work fewer hours as they approach retirement – will have significant implications on the doctor shortage over the coming decade.

Recognizing the retirement dilemma and its impact on staffing levels, Jackson Physician Search commissioned a survey of healthcare administrators and physicians. One of its findings was a disparity in how much notice to give when retiring, illustrating a mismatch between administrator expectations and doctor intentions. Most doctors prefer to give six months’ notice, while administrators would ask for up to three years’ notice.

-> Download The Realities of Physician Retirement Whitepaper

This means that administrators who are only concerned with current staffing needs are already behind. Considering that it takes up to six – nine months to recruit a physician and receive a signed contract, and up to an additional year before the physician begins employment, a strategic long-term physician recruitment plan eliminates unnecessary and costly delays. Part of this plan includes candid conversations with physicians to avoid disparities between physicians’ intentions as they approach retirement and administrator expectations as they plan for physician recruitment and staffing.

In addition to the estimates above, effective staffing planning require healthcare facilities to know their ideal candidate’s anticipated availability and to add that to the recruitment timeline. For example, residents are available for new opportunities in the summer, so waiting to recruit until spring is often too late. While more seasoned physicians are potentially available year-round, they face issues like non-compete agreements and lengthy resignation notice periods.

Retain Physicians to Lessen Recruitment Burden

It’s not uncommon to find a lack of alignment between employers and employees with regard to engagement and satisfaction in the workplace, and these disconnects can be found in medical facilities as well.

In the webinar “Hiring Physicians During COVID-19” conducted in June with MGMA, only 9.7 percent of administrators reported feeling concerned about losing their most valuable employees due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we polled physicians via our email newsletter and email job ads and two-thirds of those who responded indicated that COVID-19 has prompted them to look for a new job.

Disparities in perceptions could lead administrators to feel overly confident that their valued physicians won’t look for work elsewhere, further indicating that administrators should keep an eye on recruitment.

People can only manage under crisis scenarios for so long before it begins taking a toll on their mental health and physical wellbeing. Physicians facing longer hours, less sleep and more critical care patients as a result of COVID-19 can experience burnout quickly.

In January and prior to the full onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Medical Association found an overall burnout rate of 42 percent among doctors responding to an online survey.

Physicians left disengaged by burnout, poor fit in a role and in difficult working conditions can result in more turnover and vacant roles. Even with an increased emphasis on mental wellness, physician turnover is inevitable. As a result, a healthcare facility may experience thousands of dollars in recruiting costs to fill the roles, loss of revenue due to lack of capacity, and unhappy patients and coworkers.

Understanding Physician Recruitment Return on Investment

To help facilities quantify the cost of recruiting for vacant roles based on specialty and how long the position has been open, as well as show revenue a facility may have missed out on while the position has gone unfilled, Jackson Physician Search developed a Physician Recruitment ROI Calculator.

For example, an internal medicine role unfilled for just three months means lost revenue of more than $220,000. An Emergency Medicine role unfilled for the same time means lost revenue of more than $480,000. The Physician Recruitment ROI Calculator also shows average time-to-fill compared to Jackson Physician Search’s time-to-fill to help healthcare administrators evaluate how much revenue can be saved.

-> Try the Physician Recruitment Calculator to See What a Faster Time-to-Fill Is Worth to Your Organization

All of these data points and trends indicate that physician recruitment is still an important activity in maintaining and growing your organization, especially as you look to your 2021 staffing plans. As the accrued costs to fill a vacant role can reach over $1 million depending on specialty, it’s critical to manage this time-consuming process efficiently.

If you need a strategic recruitment partner to help you navigate physician recruiting during the pandemic and beyond, Jackson Physician Search is ready to help every step of the way.  Contact our experienced recruitment professionals today to learn more about how we can make a difference.

Strong leadership and a Supportive Culture are Key to Recruiting and Retaining Physicians in the New Normal

Some physicians are seeking out new positions because of COVID-19.  Your understanding of how the pandemic may have impacted them should be reflected in how you recruit…

3 tips for recruiting top physician candidates

Going Beyond Compensation: 3 Tips to Win Top Physician Candidates

The volume of physicians who are looking for their next opportunity is surging right now. And with many states moving well into the re-opening phase, these…

Need Help Recruiting Physicians?

Click the Get Started button if you’re ready to speak with one of our physician recruitment experts.

[Recruitment Guide] Guide to Developing a Strategic Physician Recruitment Plan

By

This is Part 1 of our complete Guide to Physician Recruitment. With any process, it is best to start by assessing your unique needs and developing your strategy. This handbook helps you do just that with step by step instructions for developing a strategic physician recruitment plan. Download Part 1 of our Guide to Physician Recruitment. This PDF handbook defines six key steps on your path to building a strategic physician recruitment plan.

Physician Recruiting Process_Part1-FINAL

Developing a Strategic Physician Recruitment Plan: Part 1

The physician shortage continues to be a growing concern for hospital CEOs and executives and consistently ranks in the top 5 concerns along with financial challenges and governmental mandates. You can download a study about the physician shortage from the American College of Healthcare Executives.

To combat physician shortage, it is critical to develop a strategic recruitment plan. Recruiting top physicians can be an expensive and time-consuming process for hospitals and health systems, which is even more reason to do it efficiently. This guide is a support tool for our clients as well as those hospitals who are still exploring their strategy for physician recruitment.

Our four decades of experience in partnering with hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country to develop strategic recruitment plans helps us have a unique perspective and wide knowledge base, which we are eager to share here.

From the hospital CEO to the physician recruiter, this broad-spectrum guide offers you a clear path toward optimizing your efforts and your investment in physician recruitment. And, if you find you need additional assistance at any point, we are available for an in-person consultation. Contact us.

Top 5 Indicators You Need a Strategic Physician Recruiting Plan

  1. Lost Revenue – Each day you are recruiting is thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Hiring more quickly will benefit your hospital’s bottom line as well as productivity, morale, and patient loyalty.
  2. Recruitment Time – According to a recent report from ASPR, the average placement time for physicians is between 109 and 128 days.
  3. Losing New Patient Opportunities – If you are having to turn away patients because you don’t have the capacity to see them, then your recruitment needs are critical.
  4. Left Scrambling – Few hospitals and healthcare groups have physicians in the queue ready to start. If you need to backfill a position, you are most likely experience patient rejection and lost revenue.
  5. Competition – Competition with another facility creates the urgent and essential need for strategy and effective marketing of your open positions.

Defining a Strategic Physician Recruitment Plan

A strategic recruitment plan is simply a roadmap to assess, create, and launch effective recruitment for your physicians and other providers. Whether the CEO or the physician recruiter, you and your team need to be able to critically evaluate the needs of your system and obtain buy-in from key stakeholders and decision makers to develop and execute an optimal recruitment strategy that benefits your whole organization. A strategic recruitment plan is part of a well-designed medical staff development plan that encompasses:

  • Physician Alignment
  • A Community Needs Assessment
  • Population Analysis
  • A Five-Year Strategic Plan
  • Input From Key Stakeholders
  • Metrics and Benchmarks to Analyze Effectiveness

How to Add Strategy to Your Recruiting Plan

Being strategic in your recruiting helps save your organization time and money while ensuring you find the right physicians and advanced practice professionals to grow your business. It took an average of 128 days to fill positions across all specialties in 2016, according to the 2016 Association of Staff Physician Recruiters report. An internist, for example, brings in an average revenue of &823,900 for a facility each year, Jackson Physician Search found in its annual Physician Salary Calculator. That adds up to nearly half a million dollars in lost revenue for your hospital while you’re looking for a new hire.

It’s increasingly important to not just recruit quickly but to recruit the right doctors. Estimated turnover costs are as much as $1 million per physician after factoring in recruitment, start-up and lost revenue costs. A solid recruitment plan will enable you to find the right doctors for the right positions at the right time.

Remember, there is no other resource in your hospital that will give you a greater return on investment than a physician. For that reason, we encourage you to recruit and retain these professionals carefully and strategically.

To read the rest of this guide, please click the download button.

.

Physician Recruitment Guide: How to Execute Physician Site Visits

[Recruitment Guide] How to Expertly Execute Physician Site Visits

Part 2 of our Guide to Physician Recruitment focuses on site visits. How you execute a physician site visit has a huge impact on the decision of your candidate. This recruitment guide has tips…

Focus on Culture for the Best Physician Team

Focus On Culture To Build the Perfect Team

Are you having staffing issues and problems with turnover?  Does the cost of constantly recruiting physicians get brought up at every meeting?  If either of these situations sound…

Need Help Recruiting Physicians?

Click the Get Started button if you’re ready to speak with one of our physician recruitment experts.

[Recruitment Guide] How to Expertly Execute Physician Site Visits

By

 

Part 2 of our Guide to Physician Recruitment focuses on site visits. How you execute a physician site visit has a huge impact on the decision of your candidate. This recruitment guide has tips that will help you prepare for site visits. You can view or download the entire guide for free. Part 1 is our guide to developing a strategic physician recruitment plan.

Physician Recruiting Guide Part 2 – Physician Site Visits

How to Expertly Execute Physician Site Visits

Physicians and their families have unique needs when considering a career move or new practice setting. A personalized and refined physician site visit is essential.

Do everything in your power to target the type of physicians who would appreciate your unique characteristics. Present your community and facility favorably. Control the sensory-emotional experience you deliver, from the very first contact to the final follow-up, and every touch in between.

Recruiters who successfully coordinate and manage the physician site visit will position their organizations to:
Rise above the competition
Earn the trust of the physician and spouse
Become their number one choice

The organization will have a healthier interview-to-hire ratio, faster time-to-fill, higher acceptance rate, and lower recruitment expenses.

Overcome the “Practice Utopia” Expectation

Most physicians understand there is no perfect job in the perfect place. Their mindset is both: Optimistic (hoping to fulfill their needs and wants) & Cautious (looking out for risk or challenges)

Bad News: You can’t control your location
Good News: You can control your interview experience
Once a physician identifies your location, they focus on fit.

Set Expectation Before the Site Visit
Do: Listen for both work and family needs
Do: Uncover and address issues in advance
Don’t: Bring a physician in for an interview if deal-killers exist

Speak with the Spouse

  • Gain insight into how involved they will be in the decision.
  • Understand their expectations.
  • Explore the family’s needs with open-ended questions.
  • Foster connections.
  • Avoid unimportant time wasters.

The Site Visit is the…

Key time to determine cultural, operational and philosophical fit. “Secret Sauce” that differentiates hospitals and facilities who recruit successfully from the rest. Opportunity to create a feeling of familiarity that permeates the entire interview process.

Selling Your In-Person Healthcare Organization Brand

In our continuing series on Healthcare Organization Brand Management, it is time to turn our attention to the importance of having your brand on display during face-to-face interactions with…

Physician Recruitment and Retention Practices That Work

Finders Keepers Physician Recruitment and Retention Practices That Work

We take a hard look at how technology, company culture, and team roles can influence physician recruitment and retention practices. We discuss how…

Need Help Recruiting Physicians?

Click the Get Started button if you’re ready to speak with one of our physician recruitment experts.