Survey data collected by Jackson Physician Search was featured in an article that made the Top 10 HealthLeaders Clinical Care Stories of 2019. Below is an excerpt from that article.
4 STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS CLINICAL STAFF SHORTAGES AT RURAL HOSPITALS
RECRUITING PHYSICIANS AT RURAL HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS
A survey report published by Alpharetta, Georgia–based Jackson Physician Search also includes a gloomy view of the rural physician workforce. “From 2013 to 2015, the overall supply of physicians in the United States grew by 16,000 but the number of rural physicians declined by 1,400. These facts compound the problem that while 20 percent of the U.S. population is rural, only 12 percent of the primary care physicians work in a rural area,” the survey report says.
The survey report, which is based on data collected from more than 150 physicians and 105 rural health system administrators, says four factors were found to be particularly effective in the recruitment of doctors in rural areas.
1. Autonomy: The survey found 43% of physician respondents consider autonomy as a significant goal in their careers. The physician survey respondents say they value practicing medicine without undue influence from executives. “Healthcare professionals—both nurses and physicians—want to have their voices heard, especially when it comes to issues affecting their practice of medicine. Rural hospitals have the advantage here when compared to a large bureaucratic health system,” Tony Stajduhar, president of Jackson Physician Search, tells HealthLeaders.
2. Team-based culture: Physician survey respondents say they enjoy working at healthcare organizations that have strong teamwork and collaborative decision-making. “Culture and fit are widely discussed as important factors for physicians in feeling engaged in the workplace,” the survey report says.
3. Recruit the family: Physician and administrator survey respondents say a family-friendly environment is a desirable aspect of a healthcare organization. “Highlighting the best aspects of the community and involving community leaders in the process will go a long way in demonstrating the community’s value to the physician. Specifically, taking time to ensure that spouses and significant others are engaged in the process can be a deciding factor once an offer is being considered,” the survey report says.
4. Administrator role in recruitment: With physicians ranking culture high as a desirable attribute at healthcare organizations, rural hospital CEOs and other top administrators can be a decisive factor in the recruitment of doctors, Stajduhar says.
“Based on our survey, a well-designed, on-site visit that makes the physician and their family feel welcome and highlights the community culture is the No. 1 factor in picking a practice location. They need to be able to see themselves as part of an active and vibrant community, and to enjoy working in the organizational environment. Painting a picture of the vision of the organization and how they fit into building the future is essential. The senior leadership of the organization must be involved and take a lead role in the process,” he says.