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2021 Physician Staffing: 6 Takeaways from Our Candidate Poll

Jackson Physician Search
December 16, 2020

As healthcare administrators pursue their 2021 physician staffing plans, it’s a perfect time to share the intel we’ve been gathering from physicians over the past six months. Jackson Physician Search asked physicians via our candidate email newsletter and job opportunity emails to answer a single poll question related to their career plans each month, with the queries beginning in June and concluding at the end of November. The results are not only enlightening, but they offer insight that can help healthcare organizations gain an edge in their 2021 physician recruitment plans. Here’s what we learned:

June 2020: Has COVID-19 prompted you to search for a new job?

Each year, the healthcare industry experiences physician turnover at a rate of 6-7%, which equates to approximately 50,000 physicians accepting new positions. Once the country began re-opening, we asked physicians if the pandemic had prompted them to search for a new job.

A striking 67% of physicians said, yes, COVID is influencing their decision to seek a new job opportunity. 

With the first vaccines rolling out now, it will be interesting to see how many physicians continue to pursue new roles. But clearly, they have taken stock of their current situation, and it may lead to higher physician turnover rates than in past years. Now is the time to ensure that you have contingency plans in place in order to keep your 2021 staffing plan on track.

July 2020: Would you accept a position based on a virtual interview alone (no on-site visit)?

Another component of physician recruitment that has been heavily impacted by the pandemic is the interview process. With in-person and on-campus meetings severely curtailed at various points throughout the year, we wanted to learn more about how virtual interviews impacted physician candidates’ decision-making process. We asked a yes or no question about whether a candidate would accept a new position based solely on a virtual interview.

The responses were split down the middle as 52% of physicians said yes and 48% responded no.

Obviously, virtual meetings and interviews have proven helpful during the shutdown protocols and several of our clients made successful hires via virtual interviews alone. But for many physicians, a face-to-face meeting is an essential part of the process.

August 2020: How many on-site or virtual interviews are needed for you to be comfortable making a career decision?

In that same vein, we sought to learn more about the ideal number of interviews before a physician candidate reaches a decision.

In response, 45% of physicians chose one interview, while 26% needed two, and 29% chose 3 or more as the ideal number.

Since almost half of the candidates only need a single interview before deciding if an opportunity is right for them, administrators should focus on delivering a great first impression.

September 2020: Which aspect of the community tour most influences your decision to accept or reject a job offer?

One aspect of the recruitment process that should never be discounted is the community tour. Site visits and community tours in 2020 were significantly challenged by the pandemic. However, according to physicians, they remain a vital influence on whether or not they will accept an opportunity that involves moving to a new community.

More than 90% of physicians responded that a community tour is essential to their decision.

In support of community tours, 42% cited the local housing market as the most important factor, while 31% pointed to the schools and childcare resources. These are timely data points to consider when planning out a community tour for physician candidates. It is also worthy to note that a well-planned community tour and site visit are essential parts of your first impression.

October 2020: In making your employment decision, how important is it that your significant other accompany you on the interview and community tour?

Another factor that should never be ignored when planning your in-person interview is the candidate’s significant other. In their own words, physicians are telling us that having their spouse or significant other accompany them on an interview is key.

Over 53% considered it very important, while another 18% chose somewhat important.

Just 12% said it was not important, while 17% chose not applicable. Knowing that 71% of the candidates with a significant other cite the importance of their inclusion solidifies the notion that the whole family should be recruited, not just the physician. When planning the on-site tour, aim to engage the candidate and any attending family members.

November 2020: What is your ideal interview schedule?

The last question posed to physicians was designed to determine a preference in how the interview process was scheduled overall.

The majority of the respondents split between having several visits (35%) and finishing the interviews all in one day (37%).

A smaller number indicated a preference for a 2- to 3-day long visit (13%), while 14% stated that it didn’t matter to them. While these numbers may seem inconclusive, they suggest that you may want to ask candidates what they prefer.  When the schedule is tailored around the candidate’s wants and needs, it demonstrates that they are valued as an individual.

6 Key Takeaways from Our Physician Polls

  1. COVID may be prompting physicians to seek new job opportunities.
  2. Virtual interviews have a place, but many physicians still prefer face-to-face interviews.
  3. Almost half of the physicians responded that they only need one interview to decide if an opportunity is right for them.
  4. Community tours are a significant factor for physician candidates, focusing on housing markets and school systems.
  5. Over 70% of candidates felt it was essential to have their significant other involved in the interview/recruitment process.
  6. Physicians didn’t state a strong preference for the number of days to commit for interviews. Take that as an opportunity to tailor the process to their needs.

We understand the challenges faced by healthcare administrators to recruit and retain physicians and aim to provide you with helpful industry data and sound recruitment strategies. Our latest whitepaper on the Physician Interview Experience addresses many of the topics discussed above.

Whether you are responsible for a small rural hospital or a large hospital system, our team of healthcare industry experts can help you source, recruit, and fill your physician vacancies. Contact our recruitment team today and learn how we can make a difference as your trusted physician recruitment partner.


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