The average length of a Primary Care physician search is 180 days. However, for rural health centers, the physician recruitment cycle is often longer. Some rural facilities spend years – not to mention tens of thousands of dollars – searching for a Primary Care physician to meet the needs of patients. When physician vacancies go on for an extended period of time, the burden falls onto other physicians, and there’s an increased risk that patients won’t have access to care when they need it most.
Such was the case for a medical center located near the border of New Mexico and Colorado. For two years, another recruitment firm tried to recruit a Primary Care Physician to fill the vacancy but was unsuccessful. The expensive direct mail campaigns weren’t working, and hospital leadership was ready to go it alone.
It was only when the hospital’s CEO spoke with Ben Stajduhar, Director of Business Development at Jackson Physician Search, that he began to reconsider. He liked the month-to-month contract, as well as our 100% digital recruitment strategy designed to target the Primary Care physicians who are most likely to be interested in the position. Though still a bit skeptical, the CEO could see how this modern approach to recruitment was more likely to identify quality candidates.
Establish a Relationship of Trust
Search Consultant Misha Fabick regularly matches physicians with organizations large and small in both urban and rural areas, and she has learned that building a relationship of trust is always the first step.
“I think a lot of times in the more rural areas, recruiters come in and say ‘You have to do it this way or you’re never going to find anyone,’ and they really steamroll the client,” she says. “I try to go in with a more consultative approach. I’m there to collect information, hear about any challenges, and build a relationship. My method really resonated with this particular client, as it was something the administration had not experienced before.”
After visiting the town and consulting with leadership about the position, Misha knew it would be a challenging physician search. However, she was confident that she could find a match if she focused on the positive, leveraged her connections, and kept an open mind.
Focus on the Positive Aspects of the Physician Job
Though the organization was struggling to recruit physicians, once hired, physicians stayed. The facility’s retention rate was impressive. Physicians were undoubtedly happy with the benefits package, the organizational culture, and the facility itself, which was both nice and new. The town, however, was certainly remote. Only three hours away from Denver, it offered multiple opportunities for outdoor recreation and featured a low cost of living. Better yet, Misha happened to know of a physician to whom this opportunity might appeal.
Several months prior, while recruiting for a position in Colorado, Misha received a response to a physician job posting from a Nephrologist practicing in New Mexico. Dr. S was hoping to relocate to be closer to Denver. He had been a good fit for that position, but the hiring organization was not able to sponsor his open visa. Misha’s current client, however, would be willing to do it. She reached out to Dr. S to gauge his interest in the position.
Dr. S was happy to hear about the opportunity. While it wasn’t exactly what he had been looking for, Misha pointed out the many ways it fit his requirements. Dr. S agreed to keep an open mind, and Misha proceeded to present him to the client.
Think Outside of the Box
The client, while happy to have an interested candidate, was not seeking a Nephrologist. However, Misha explained that he was serving as a Primary Care physician in his current role and would be willing to do so again. Plus, he brought the added benefit of Nephrology training to the role.
“It can be a gamble to go outside the specifications,” says Fabick. “But my instincts told me it was a good overall match, and the client needed to at least hear about the option.”
The client was extremely open to the idea and eager to meet Dr. S. The on-site visit was scheduled, and in Dr. S’s preparation for the interview, he learned that his former mentor was now on staff at the facility. Reminded of what a small world we live in, this heightened his interest even before he arrived. The visit itself went well, and Dr. S was thrilled to be reunited with his former colleague. He accepted an offer a few weeks later.
Secrets of Success
The seeds of Misha’s success were sown in her first visit to the community. She laid the foundation of trust by asking questions and seeking to understand the unique situation of her client. Having established the relationship, she set expectations and promised ongoing communication and weekly updates. She worked closely with her main point of contact and acknowledges the critical part he played.
“He did a phenomenal job and was a great partner,” Misha says. “He really helped sell the community.”
The client helped in other ways too. The benefits package was a huge selling point, and the positive culture throughout the organization was also a draw. Most importantly, the client was open-minded and flexible, able to help with Dr. S’s open visa, and of course, open to a Nephrology specialist in lieu of an Internal Medicine physician.
The story highlights the necessity of all parties to keep an open mind. Oftentimes the perfect candidate may not appear to be perfect at first glance, but with an open mind and flexibility, a great match is often found.
If your organization is recruiting physicians to meet your unique needs, the recruiters at Jackson Physician Search are ready to build a relationship with you. Contact us today.
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