Physician Search Success: Hospital Hires Gastroenterologist to Start GI Program in Rural Ohio


When community need for a Gastroenterologist grew too big to ignore, one small hospital in southwest Ohio launched a physician search to solve the problem. The 30-bed regional hospital, located in a village of two thousand people, did not have a Gastroenterology program. In past years, when there was a need, the organization had always referred patients to one of three Gastroenterologists in the surrounding counties. However, in recent years all three physicians had retired or relocated, leaving patients in the area traveling an hour or more for GI care. 

Of course, hiring a Gastroenterologist to start a GI Program would be no small task. With demand for cancer screenings increasing nationwide and only 500 GI fellows coming out of training each year, Gastroenterologists are one of the most in-demand specialists and, therefore, especially difficult to recruit. The latest projections show a shortage of 1,630 Gastroenterologists by the year 2025. 

The organization knew it wouldn’t be easy, so when Tim Sheley, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Jackson Physician Search, reached out, they were eager to learn more. Tim detailed the 100% digital physician recruitment strategy and explained the benefits of partnering with a firm with national reach and regional expertise. He introduced them to Senior Search Consultant Nathan Collier, a native of Ohio, who was familiar with the region and prepared to help his client establish the much-needed program.

A Challenging Physician Search 

Nathan immediately recognized the challenges of the search. The rural location was one thing, but starting a program from scratch would likely be a turnoff for most candidates. The prospect might be daunting for GIs coming out of training, and more established GIs would be unlikely to want to start over in this way.   

Undeterred, Nathan crafted the physician job description to highlight what he saw as the job’s selling points. The facility’s location was rural but not entirely remote, as it was about an hour’s drive from the nearest international airport. The position would have minimal to no call requirements while the program was in its infancy, and cases would be routine, with more complex cases still referred out. 

Nathan distributed the gastroenterology job ad through the Jackson Physician Search network of physician job boards, and the marketing team sent it by email to relevant candidates in the vast opt-in physician database. The response was minimal, so Nathan knew they would need to get creative.

Thinking Outside the Box

Leadership at the organization understood the tough reality of the gastroenterology market, so they were willing to be flexible in order to find a physician. They were open to someone right out of training, but Nathan found these candidates were intimidated by the responsibility of launching a program without a mentor to guide them. In response, leadership forged a partnership with a health center in Cincinnati to offer phone support for the new physician. 

Nathan continued to screen candidates who reached out after seeing the ad, but he was also proactively sourcing candidates through the Jackson Physician Search database. He knew the most likely candidates would already have ties to the area, so he searched using specific parameters to find those who had trained or worked in the area at any point. Eventually, he connected with Dr. D, a Gastroenterologist working as a locums provider in a neighboring state. He had a license to practice in Ohio, so Nathan reached out to gauge his interest. 

The Right Opportunity, the Right Time

While Dr. D was not in an active job search, the idea of working in Ohio appealed to him. His daughter was about to move to the state for college, and he liked the idea of being closer to her. As a locum tenens physician, he was used to quickly adapting to unknown situations, so the idea of starting a new program did not phase him. The bread and butter cases, the minimal call, and the work-life balance were all attractive. 

Nathan presented Dr. D to the client, who was immediately interested. They reached out to him right away. After a promising phone interview, Dr. D traveled to Ohio for an interview with the CEO and to tour the facility. He liked what he saw and enjoyed a fun night around a bonfire with the other physicians. The experience made an impact, and when Dr. D received an offer a few days later, he was happy to accept. 

Secrets of Physician Search Success

Nathan credits the success of the search to the client’s willingness to be flexible and ability to act quickly.

“They understood the importance of keeping momentum with an interested candidate,” says Nathan. 

Of course, the part Nathan played in proactively sourcing interested candidates cannot be overstated. Nathan leveraged what he knew about the town, the position, and the organization to zero in on physicians most likely to be interested. Sure enough, he connected with Dr. D, who, while not in an active job search, was happy to learn about the position. 

The client was so satisfied with the results they retained Jackson Physician Search for two more searches. Nathan continues to work closely with the CEO to move the physician search process forward.

If you are seeking a recruitment partner to advance your efforts, reach out to the Recruitment Team at Jackson Physician Search today.  

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