FQHC Struggles to Recruit Until a Physicians’ Wife Takes Charge

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Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) ensure access to care, however, they can only serve as many patients as they have physicians to treat. The need is immense, and yet, recruiting for FQHCs can be difficult. Locations are not always ideal and the patient population can be challenging. Compensation packages may not be as competitive as those offered by for-profit organizations either.

According to Health Resources and Services Administration, FQHCs served approximately 29 million patients in 2020. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, these health centers have tripled the number of patients seen since the year 2000, with California experiencing particularly strong growth. A 2020 profile reports 1 in 5 Californians, or 7.4 million patients, are served by a community health center.

For these reasons, a national recruitment partner is especially beneficial for FQHCs, but, of course, not just any physician recruitment firm will do. For one particular California FQHC, it wasn’t until it teamed up with Jackson Physician Search that it began to see physician recruitment success.

Overcoming Several Obstacles to Find the Right Physician

The FQHC’s staffing needs were significant, but several other obstacles made it almost impossible to meet recruitment goals. While the coastal California location was scenic, it was also remote – hours north of San Francisco and Sacramento. Additionally, the opioid epidemic had hit the area hard, and many patients were homeless. Despite the isolated location and challenging patient population, the compensation package was limited.

For years, the organization had sought assistance from recruitment firms – some contingent, some permanent, but none very effective. So, when Jackson Physician Search’s Regional Vice President Cheyenna Villarreal connected with the organization’s CFO, he was open to learning how our 100% digital recruitment strategy would be different. Liking what he heard, he was happy to introduce Cheyenna to the in-house recruiter. New to the role, she was eager to partner with a firm that would not only source candidates but also consult her on how to better attract them.

Cheyenne brought in Search Consultant Misha Fabick to conduct the high-priority search for a faculty physician who would lead the new cohort of Family Medicine residents. Misha immediately recognized location and compensation as the biggest challenges, so she was sure to highlight the other incentives – loan repayment and a positive work-life balance – within the job posting. Misha knew the job would be right for someone, it was just a matter of finding them.

Never Underestimate the Influence of a Spouse

Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Dr. H was not looking for a new physician job. In fact, he had no idea that his wife was browsing physician job boards and searching on his behalf. A new mother, she wanted her husband to have more time with their family and less stress at work. When she saw Misha’s job posting, featuring a healthy work-life balance in coastal California, she thought it could be just the right move. They needed a change – her husband just didn’t know it yet.

Every good physician recruiter knows how important it is to include the spouse in the physician recruiting process. However, receiving the initial inquiry from the spouse was a first for Misha, so she was skeptical about how strong Dr. H’s level of interest would be. His wife explained that he had lived in the same place his whole life, so it would take some convincing, but she assured Misha that they would be in touch.

Sure enough, Misha was soon talking directly to Dr. H. He was admittedly hesitant, but still open to the idea. Currently working in academics in New Mexico, he was certainly qualified for the position, so once she knew he was serious, Misha presented him to the client.

After the initial phone interviews, Dr. H and his wife flew out for the site visit. Having talked extensively with both Dr. H and his wife, Misha knew exactly what was most important to the couple. She worked with the in-house recruiter to set up a community tour that would introduce them to the best neighborhoods, show them the school, and highlight natural attractions. Though initially surprised by the small size of the community, the couple could see themselves living there – but it would come down to the right job offer.

Successful Physician Placement Leads to Positive Change

Dr. H and his wife returned to their home in New Mexico undecided. Busy with work, Dr. H was not always responsive to Misha, though his wife texted Misha almost daily. When the offer came in, Dr. H’s wife was ready to do whatever convincing was necessary. The in-house team was very involved as well, presenting the pros of the position very clearly and working through Dr. H’s concerns until he was ready to accept an offer.

“The in-house recruitment team was phenomenal,” says Misha. “They kept the process moving and did a great job discussing compensation and talking through any areas of concern.”

The in-house team was equally impressed with Misha and Cheyenna. The responsiveness, reports, and overall service were things they had not received from past recruitment firms. Most importantly, the candidates presented were top notch and the position was filled in 90 days. Thrilled with the results, they asked Jackson Physician Search to lead nine additional physician searches.

Are you seeking a physician recruitment partner that can fill a challenging position, fast? Find out how Jackson Physician Search can help.

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