As physicians near retirement age, one of the kindest things they can do for their employers is have a frank discussion regarding their timeline. After all, the average time it takes to recruit a physician ranges from 180 days to close to a year, depending on the specialty. Those averages are even longer for healthcare organizations in rural areas.
In a 2019 physician retirement survey conducted by Jackson Physician Search, half of the administrators surveyed said the ideal notice period for a retiring physician was one to three years. However, 40% of physicians felt six months was adequate. Certainly, the more notice a physician can provide, the more likely the organization is to hire a replacement for the outgoing retiree. Of course, this is only possible when the organization has the foresight to launch the search as soon as possible.
A longtime client of Jackson Physician Search had exactly this foresight when faced with replacing a retiring ENT. Fortunately, the physician had been transparent about his future plans, giving several years for the organization to conduct an ENT physician search. With time – and Jackson Physician Search – on their side, success was inevitable.
Planning Ahead for a Physician Retirement
It was late 2019 when Mark Mendoza, Senior Search Consultant at Jackson Physician Search, first opened an ENT search for a small health system in central Minnesota. The longtime client had learned of an upcoming retirement, and heeding Mark’s advice, started the search early. Since 2015, Jackson Physician Search had placed eight physicians with the organization, so the in-house recruiter knew they were in good hands with Mark.
Having recruited in the region for a long time, Mark knew the candidate pool of specialists willing to work in the upper Midwest is typically small, so he was grateful for the long lead time. The new hire could start as late as 2022 and the organization was open to a physician coming out of residency.
Marketing the Physician Job to the Right Audience
Mark knew the prospect of taking over for an established physician would be attractive to residents, but he also knew persuading a young physician to start his or her life in a small town could be challenging. He crafted the job posting to showcase the most attractive aspects of the position and posted it on an extensive network of job sites. However, Mark was not one to wait for candidates to come to him, so he also invested time on Doximity, the largest online network for physicians, and leveraged his seat to identify residents with ties to the area.
Once the search was in motion, it didn’t take long for Mark to connect with Dr. T. As a 2022 resident, Dr. T was not in a hurry to sign a contract, but he had learned from mentors the importance of starting the physician job search early. As an ENT, he knew he would be in high demand, and he wanted to investigate his options.
Persistence is Key to Developing the Candidate Relationship
Mark diligently pursued Dr. T, and in January 2020, Mark presented him to the client. Dr. T spoke to the internal recruiter, but due to his timeline, he felt little urgency to schedule a visit. He told Mark it would likely be summer before he could arrange an on-site interview. Mark understood and continued to pursue other candidates while remaining in touch with Dr. T.
Of course, come summer of 2020, COVID was now a deterrent to travel, and Dr. T wanted to put off the on-site interview further. Mark remained in touch but each time they came close to scheduling an interview, Dr. T had a reason to delay. In October, Mark reached out once more to nail down a date over the holidays, which Dr. T had previously said might work. This time, instead of offering reasons to delay, Dr. T simply didn’t return Mark’s calls. He failed to respond to emails and texts as well.
“He ghosted me!” Mark says, “I didn’t hear from him for about two months, though I continued to reach out.”
Never Give Up on the Right Candidate
In late December, Dr. T finally sent an email to Mark to thank him for his help, also letting him know his plans to accept another opportunity.
“I got the email at 9 pm on a Saturday, and I called him right then – from a grocery store parking lot of all places!” says Mark, “But given the limited number of ENTs interested in working in that area, I wasn’t going to let him go so easily.”
Mark convinced Dr. T to at least have a closer look at his client before accepting the other offer. He painted an attractive picture of what life could be like in the small, lakeside town, and Dr. T was intrigued. After an extensive virtual interview, Dr. T was surprised to find that he preferred Mark’s client over the other organization. Mark’s client extended an offer, and, after some negotiation, Dr. T accepted.
A Lasting Recruitment Relationship
The client was thrilled to secure an ENT to seamlessly replace the retiring physician. Once again, Jackson Physician Search – and Mark – had come through for them. The in-house recruiter had this to say about Mark’s consistent success:
“I have worked with many different recruitment firms, and I have had the most success with Mark. As an in-house recruiter, I have appreciated the pre-screening, prompt follow-up and feedback, consistent level of communication, and high-quality candidates presented by Mark. He has been very cognizant of our market and provides insightful information in the recruitment process that we as an organization can use to improve.”
Dr. T was also excited to have secured his first post-residency position. Without Mark’s persistence, Dr. T might have ended up missing out on the job with a health system that will allow him to flourish personally and professionally.
With offices located across the country, our team of physician recruitment experts have first-hand knowledge of each region and the physician job opportunities within them. If you are seeking a new position, contact us today, or search our open positions now.
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