Going Beyond Compensation: 3 Tips to Win Top Physician Candidates

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Offering a competitive and well-rounded compensation and benefits package is important to win over physician candidates, even more so in rural areas. But compensation alone isn’t likely to provide you with a steady stream of high-quality candidates who fit the culture and will succeed in the role.

To recruit and retain your ideal candidates in today’s crowded recruitment environment, it’s time to get creative. Here are three tips for success.

Know your ideal candidate’s needs and tailor the compensation/benefits package to that physician.

If you’re looking at early careerists, offer a student loan repayment or signing bonus. If you’re looking for a mid- or late-stage careerist, offer a retention bonus as a reward for staying put over a certain period of service, or a broader insurance package that might include long-term care insurance.

Offer a flexible work schedule, especially if you know the candidate has child rearing or parental responsibilities. Knowing your candidate also means knowing if he or she has reservations about the business obligations of working in a practice versus a hospital.

Be prepared to proudly show your investment in software and support staff to ease the burden of practice management. Consider the benefits of recruiting a “clinical scribe” from within the local community to enter EMR data, giving physicians more time to focus on their patients. Show your dedication to the value-based practice model and your commitment to preventing burnout on staff.

You might also impress candidates by being on the cutting-edge of the revival of the physicians’ lounge as a place for doctors to come together, gain a respite from the action of work and share ideas. Out of fashion for a time, the physicians’ lounge is making a comeback as a powerful deterrent against burnout, as described in a 2019 Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) article.

Solidify your recruitment process and marketing plan to attract your ideal candidate.

The new generation of physicians are savvy – and that goes beyond their preference for communicating via text, email, and social media. Many of them tell us that most mass-produced marketing materials go in the trash without a second look.

They know a canned sales pitch when they see or hear one, and they resent the intrusion on their personal and professional lives. What they appreciate most is personalized communication tailored specifically to them—illustrating an intricate understanding of their skills and background.

That doesn’t mean you should throw out social media and other digital forms of recruitment. Quite the opposite, in fact – physicians prefer to receive job opportunities via email. Also, check out a candidate’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages to get to know him or her early in the recruiting process. Some recruits even have their own blogs that provide keen insight into their interests, work ethic, and career goals. If you’ve developed a successful candidate persona—and you should have one—it’s a good way to see which candidates will be the best fit.

In addition, your recruiting firm can help you narrow your choices to those candidates who are native to your state, who grew up or went to school there, so you can emphasize that connection when you communicate with them.

As an executive partner with the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), we share best practices with the organization on the unique challenges of recruiting specifically to medical practices. Writes David N. Gans of MGMA’s industry affairs team, ideal candidates might be fully capable of starting their own private practice. Why would they want to sign up with an existing one? One reason is the ability to see nearly a full patient load from the start without taking the time to build their own patient panel. “That is a boon that sometimes you may not think about,” Gans says.

It’s a message well worth remembering in your communications with the candidates you want.

Ensure your interview process and candidate site visit is candidate- and family-focused.

Include key stakeholders, a tour of the community when travel is more practical again and be prepared to offer a sample contract if the candidate is your ideal fit. Remember that physicians and advanced practice providers are people, not numbers. They have families, friends, hobbies and interests that are important to them. Their individual needs, motivations, values and work styles significantly influence how and where they will choose to practice medicine. The more you can learn and adapt to these factors, the greater the opportunity to hire physicians who will fit, succeed and stay.

Invite key stakeholders to coffee or dinner to share their perspective on living and working in your area—what the schools are like, what elder care options are available if the candidate has aging parents, favorite recreational, social and cultural activities. Especially if your practice is in a rural community, it’s much easier for a candidate to imagine a transition to country life if he or she hears firsthand the stories of those who have already made it.

Contact us if you’d like additional insight into your own recruitment strategy as well as recommendations on ways to meet demand and attract the right physicians to your healthcare organization.

 

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