When a large health system in Minnesota sought to grow its neuro-hospitalist program, leadership knew hiring a neurologist wouldn’t be easy. Neurology is one of the hardest specialties to recruit, so the hospital’s leadership wanted to bring in a physician recruitment partner. As a preferred vendor of the Minnesota Hospital Association, Jackson Physician Search was the obvious choice.
Preparing for a Challenging Neurology Search
JPS Director of Recruiting Katie Moeller was eager to get to know the hospital’s needs and define the best strategy for what was sure to be a tough neurology search. The significant gap between the number of open neurology jobs nationwide and the number of available candidates presented only one part of the problem. The challenge also stemmed from the fact that 50% of neurologists in the United States are internationally trained graduates, so neurology candidates coming out of fellowship often need a J-1 visa waiver. Katie presented all of this information to her client along with her prediction that many of their applicants would likely need a J-1 waiver. She wanted to make sure the client would be open to hiring one of these candidates.
The client was not completely certain they could obtain the waiver. Under the Conrad 30 program, each state has just 30 waivers available annually, and eligible organizations are typically granted one, at most, per year. Despite this uncertainty, the client agreed to have Katie evaluate J-1 candidates, and if she brought them a truly great candidate, they would take on the additional paperwork and legal fees to pursue a waiver.
An Influx of J-1 Physician Candidates
Katie was right in her predictions–many of the responses to the neurology job ad were from candidates requiring a J-1 waiver. Katie, of course, scheduled calls with all candidates to review their clinical experience, evaluate their communication skills, and perhaps most importantly, gain a sense of how excited they were about the physician job description and the location. Katie wanted to ensure any candidate she presented was both eager to do the job and committed to building a life in the area. It was important to Katie that any J-1 candidate she presented wouldn’t be likely to leave after fulfilling the terms of the waiver.
Katie held bi-weekly meetings with the client to review search activity and update them on potential applicants. They, too, were receiving many direct applications from J-1 candidates but didn’t have time to fully evaluate each one. They trusted Katie to weed through the applicants she was getting and bring them the best.
Presenting the Top Neurology Candidates
Ultimately, Katie presented her top candidates and ranked them based on their clinical strength, communication skills, and genuine interest in both the job and the location. Leadership invited her top two candidates to interview.
Katie’s number one choice, Dr. C, was finishing her fellowship in Michigan, so she was familiar with the upper Midwest and wasn’t discouraged by the cold weather. Dr. C was happy to find an opportunity in a metro area in the region, and the 7-on/7-off schedule was ideal for her–as was the job’s mix of stroke coverage and general inpatient neurology. She was excited to learn more at the on-site physician interview.
Everyone she met at the organization fell in love with her. Her enthusiasm for the job and genuine interest in the area suggested she would be a good long-term fit. The client was ready to extend an offer to Dr. C and begin the process of applying for a J-1 visa waiver for her.
Secrets of Successful Neurologist Recruitment
Katie attributes the successful neurology search to the client’s willingness to trust her to evaluate the J-1 candidates and her own diligence in exhausting every lead.
“An opportunity for J-1 candidates in a metro area is rare, so this job received a relatively high number of applications–far more than the client had time to review, ” Katie explains. “If I had sent over every applicant, the process would have dragged on indefinitely. But they trusted me to weed through dozens of candidates, and when they met Dr. C, they were thrilled.”
Hiring a candidate in need of a J-1 visa waiver may seem like a hassle, but if you choose to ignore this large group of candidates, you could miss out on your best (or only) option. If your organization has a tough-to-fill physician job opening, reach out to Jackson Physician Search today to learn how we can ease the process.
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