Forecasting Placements: Recruiting a Physician to Weather the Cold


Imagine a town where the winter temperatures are often below freezing. The living room window looks out to a dark tundra with multiple feet of snow. Could you see yourself living here? Now, imagine recruiting a physician to this same location. How would you go about it?

This was the case for our client in rural North Dakota. The health system was struggling to retain physicians due to its location. Not far from the Canadian border, it wasn’t unusual to see temps of 30-40 below freezing. The administration tried to make up for it with an extremely competitive compensation package. However, while a salary in the 95th percentile might be a reason to take the job, it was not proving to be enough to make physicians stay. The program leaders wanted to do a better job of identifying candidates for whom the location wouldn’t be an obstacle to overcome. They wanted to hire a Psychiatrist who was committed to building a life in the region and would stay long term.

The challenge then became positioning the search and targeting a candidate willing to relocate to the remote city. Regional Vice President of Recruiting Tara Osseck was more than up for the task. Confident in our 100% digital recruitment strategy including a targeted email campaign, distribution on several national job boards, and physician-networking sites like Doximity, she knew she could find strong candidates. What she didn’t know was how a completely virtual interview process – conducted during the COVID-19 lockdown – would impact the physician hiring process.

A Psychiatrist Seeking a Big Change

Constant demands of a big-city, inpatient Psychiatry job had left Dr. J burned out and unhappy. She had no work-life balance and the pandemic had shown her, as it did so many, that life was too short to be miserable. By mid-April, she was actively seeking change and that’s when she replied to an email from Tara about this position.

Tara knew from her first conversation with Dr. J that she was qualified for the position, but would the location be a problem? The freezing temps and the smaller population would be a big change for Dr. J, but a change was exactly what she professed to want. Tara presented her to the client.

Site-unseen: 60 Days to Hire a Psychiatrist in 100% Virtual Recruiting Process

The leaders at the facility moved quickly, setting up a phone call followed by a virtual interview and then a series of virtual visits so she could tour the facility. They were impressed with Dr. J and submitted an offer in a matter of weeks.

Dr. J was thrilled with all she learned about the program and the responsibilities of the Psychiatry job. She liked that she would be a part of a multi-disciplinary team of Psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and other advanced practice providers. While it wasn’t an academic setting, there would be plenty of opportunities to mentor and grow her leadership skills. It was everything she was looking for in terms of the outpatient setting, a more flexible schedule, minimal to no call, and a better work-life balance. She even saw the remote location as a positive. It would be a total change of pace from her busy lifestyle.

For all of these reasons, she confidently accepted the offer without ever having visited the facility. She knew she wanted a change and felt ready to embrace all that the new job had to offer.

“Exactly as Advertised”

After 7 months on the job (and more than halfway through her first upper Midwestern winter), Dr. J emailed Tara to let her know how happy she was in her new position. “Everything here has been exactly as advertised,” her email read.

Tara was thrilled, but not surprised, to hear the news. “It’s one of the biggest compliments I can hear about a partner client,” Tara explains. “As the recruiter, we can make a job sound rosy on the front end, but ultimately, it’s up to the client to deliver – and they’ve been able to do that now with multiple physicians that we’ve brought to the group.” Dr. J’s experience is another shining example of their commitment to transparency and following through on promises.

Dr. J’s story also exemplifies the extraordinary effectiveness of a national search led by Jackson Physician Search. Our 100% digital recruitment strategy identifies strong candidates in every specialty who are willing to relocate to your location – no matter how cold!

Unique Advantages for Rural Healthcare Facilities

The pandemic caused many to re-evaluate their priorities. Some physicians now desire to be closer to family or a position with a better work-life balance. In our Physician Retention Survey, 54% of physician respondents noted that COVID-19 had changed their employment plans, and of those, 50% planned to leave their current position for another healthcare employer.

Rural healthcare facilities have a unique advantage in this mindset shift. Promote the work-life balance aspect and you can likely scoop up top talent.

If your organization needs help finding physicians that will fit, succeed, and stay with your rural facility, the expert recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search is ready to help. Contact us today.

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