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How to Establish a Successful Physician Recruitment Partnership

Jackson Physician Search
August 16, 2022

Physician recruitment is increasingly challenging for hospitals and medical practices. All too often, the demand for a particular specialty far outweighs the supply, meaning recruiters are asked to do the near impossible. Many times, bringing in additional help is the only logical solution, and yet, how can you be certain the help you get will be the help you need?

When establishing a partnership with a physician recruitment firm, it’s critical that you, first, choose a firm with market expertise, a clearly defined strategy and process, and a commitment to transparency. But your role in a successful recruitment partnership doesn’t end with selection. For optimal results, there are specific things both sides of the partnership must bring to the table. 

Keep reading to learn what you should expect from your physician recruitment partner and what you, too, should do to improve physician recruitment results. 

Must-Haves from Physician Recruitment Firms 

Your physician recruitment partner should have a track record of success in your region and with the specialty for which you are recruiting. They should also be able to communicate their candidate sourcing strategy and recruitment process, as well as set realistic expectations for how long a search could take. Beyond these, here are some additional things you should expect of your partner.

1. A Thorough Site Visit 

In order to effectively sell your organization to physician candidates, the recruiter must have firsthand knowledge of it. By spending time in the location and getting to know you, other administrators, and even some of the physicians and staff at the organization, the recruiter will be able to paint a full picture of what it will be like for the candidate to live and work in your community. 

This may be especially true in rural areas, where location can be an obstacle for candidates to overcome. If the recruiter has spent time there, they can experience for themselves the area’s positive attributes and authentically present it to the candidate. This was certainly the case for a JPS client located in a small town on the border of Colorado and New Mexico, where recruiter Misha Fabick’s visit was critical to the success of the search.   

“I think it is crucial for the recruiter to experience the town and the organization for the first time the way a candidate would,” explains Tara Osseck, Regional VP of Recruitment at Jackson Physician Search. “This allows the recruiter to see those surface-level pros and cons and think about what could be highlighted or tweaked to allow a better first impression. The visit should be viewed as a trial run of the physician’s on-site interview. Any rough spots can be smoothed over in this early stage.”

2. Consistent Communication

A good physician recruitment partner will provide clear and consistent communication throughout the process. It is important for the recruiter to check in and provide updates on the efforts being made to find qualified candidates. This ensures all parties know what is going on and can reevaluate the strategy if needed.

Recruiter Angela Desin stresses the importance of keeping the client informed, whether managing a single search or ten searches.

“For one client, where we are contracted for searches in multiple specialties, I meet with them every other week,” Angela says. “I send them a spreadsheet listing every specialty alongside the number of needs in each one, the number of applicants, and interviews. I also make sure they have a continually updated list of active candidates and where they are in the process.

“It benefits everyone to stay in tight communication,” she continues. “It helps to hold both the recruiter and client accountable for their parts of the process. I have made six placements this year with this client, and we have a nice and open relationship. If a certain specialty is not having activity, we can then discuss market trends and feedback and brainstorm on ideas to make the ad–or the job itself–more appealing.”

JPS recruiters can share story after story to demonstrate the importance of clear and consistent communication in successful recruitment outcomes. Bottom line–a physician recruiter must provide transparency into the process by providing regular updates, whether those be written or verbal.

3. Creativity

The mounting challenges of physician recruitment demand people who can think outside of the box. Whether it’s a new sourcing method, a unique way of framing the job, or a proposal to consider a different kind of hire than you planned. This type of creative consultation is increasingly valuable when recruiting physicians.  

This was certainly the case for a JPS client planning to hire an OB/GYN, an Internist, and a Family Medicine physician. When these specialties proved especially hard to find, recruiter Katie Moeller used her market expertise and creativity to propose they consider hiring from the relatively large pool of FM-OBs coming out of residency. The client was thrilled to make three hires so quickly, and the physicians felt lucky to find the opportunity. 

Must-Dos for Hiring Healthcare Organizations

Once you have vetted and hired a reputable physician recruitment firm, you may be tempted to step back from the process–at least until presented with a candidate. While it’s true that a good physician recruitment firm will alleviate many of the burdensome tasks of physician recruitment, it’s also true that success is more likely when the hiring organization is involved. This doesn’t mean micromanaging every step your recruiter takes, but it does mean doing the following three things. 

1. Let the Recruiter Behind the Curtain 

A good physician recruiter will want to learn everything he or she can about the position, the organization, and the location. Welcome the recruiter to spend time with you and answer questions to the best of your ability. Be prepared to share financial details about patient volumes, productivity targets, and physician earnings. Good recruiters understand that candidates will only accept an offer if they have a complete picture of potential earnings, so the recruiter needs to have all of those details upfront.

Director of Recruiting Katie Moeller has seen firsthand how this can make or break a physician search. When a group retained her to help them find a new partner, they provided her with a base salary, but even when she pushed for more information, the partners were very vague about their patient volumes and the projected earnings for the new partner.

“In total, we had five very strong candidates interview,” Katie says. “The practice extended offers to each, but one by one the candidates turned them down because the practice was hesitant to share details about compensation, volumes, and overall long-term earning potential.” 

When they finally analyzed patient volumes to make the projections Katie had requested from the start, they discovered they weren’t quite ready to take on a new partner–a realization that could have occurred much earlier had the group given Katie the information she needed. 

On the other hand, another recent client of Katie’s was totally transparent about the patient volumes, productivity, and even the earnings of individual (anonymous) physicians within the group. Armed with this information, Katie was able to clearly show candidates how they could work at 40-50th percentile productivity and still earn 70-80th percentile compensation.  

“Because of the client’s transparency, our best candidate turned down two other competing offers–with higher base salaries–because she could see the details laid out in front of her and knew my client could provide the highest earning potential and the best work-life balance,” Katie explains.

The best recruiters will take an investigative approach as they learn about the job opening, peeling back the layers until they get a complete understanding. The more familiar they are with what the opportunity has to offer, the better equipped they will be to market the job effectively. This was also true for JPS recruiter Kristin Dunbar. As she got to know the unique details of a surgical-focused OB/GYN job at a Texas hospital, she knew it would appeal to only a small segment of OB/GYNs. However, because she had a complete understanding of how the job would fit into the broader organization and community, she knew just how to target, and ultimately find, a “unicorn” candidate.

2. Respond to Communication Quickly

When your recruiter presents an interested candidate, it’s critical that you are ready to respond quickly. 

“Time kills deals.” Tara Osseck states it frankly. “Physicians are contacted about jobs multiple times per week, so if you can’t move quickly, they will lose interest.”

Of course, Tara understands how difficult it can be for the internal team to keep the process moving. Before moving to JPS, she spent ten years working in recruitment for a Midwestern hospital. 

“The reality is, our clients wear so many hats and are pulled in multiple directions,” she explains. “And it can be really difficult to align the schedules of executives and busy physician partners with candidates for calls and then interviews. Part of my job is to convey the sense of urgency and keep them on a timeline.”

In almost every JPS success story, the client’s ability to react quickly is noted as a critical element of success. Recruiter Sydney Johnson recalls one search for a client in a major Southeastern metro where this was especially true. The client first reached out to JPS the day before Thanksgiving–the beginning of a season in which both clients and physicians tend to react slowly, if they react at all. However, thanks to the client’s speed of response, Sydney was able to market the job and present a candidate quickly. The client jumped at the first opportunity to interview and was soon extending an offer. Negotiations also moved quickly, and Sydney ultimately filled the Family Medicine job in just 42 days. 

3. Be Open to Consultation 

You’ve hired a recruitment firm for their expertise, so be open to receiving it. Whether they suggest improvements to your interview process, ways to make a physician job opportunity more attractive, or even creative alternatives to your initial job specifications, commit to considering the ideas. 

For one Northeastern practice in a major metro, applying a JPS recruiter’s feedback about broadening the search parameters was essential to eventually finding the physician they needed. Good recruiters find creative solutions that don’t always fit your original expectations, but with an open mind, you may just discover that the unexpected answer leads to the right physician. 

The worsening physician shortage, increased physician burnout, and a spike in physician retirements will only escalate the difficulty of physician recruiting. Now more than ever, you need a trusted physician recruitment to help carry the burden. Selecting the right partner is a must, but the success of the partnership depends on both parties bringing some specific things to the table. For recruiters, they must do whatever it takes to fully understand the job, the organization, and the location. They must also provide clear, consistent communication and creative solutions.  For the hiring organization, give the recruiter the information they need in order to better understand the job, the organization, and the community. They should also commit to responding quickly and being open to feedback. If both sides can deliver in these areas, there is greater opportunity for physician recruitment success.  

Are you seeking a trusted physician recruitment partner to provide transparency and creative solutions? Our team of recruitment experts are here to learn more about your needs. Contact us today.


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