Searching for a Unicorn: Physician Recruiter Finds OBGYN to Meet the Growing Needs of a West Texas Hospital


According to a November 2021 article in the New York Times, Texas is having a moment of growth. The state is home to some of the fastest-growing areas in the country. So, why are so many people moving to Texas? The article attributes its attractiveness to the abundance of jobs, affordable housing, high diversity, and low climate risks. These qualities may be especially attractive to Californians, who are moving to Texas by the tens of thousands.

While the more rural parts of Texas may not be feeling the impact of this growth, one rural healthcare organization was able to capitalize on the trend. With the help of Jackson Physician Search, the hospital hired a talented California OBGYN to expand its surgical Gynecology services and meet the needs of the area’s growing population. Here’s how it happened…

The Challenges of Rural Physician Recruiting

The worsening physician shortage has made physician recruiting increasingly difficult for healthcare organizations across the nation. Metro, suburban, and rural organizations alike are all struggling to find enough talent to replace retiring physicians, much less expand their market share.

In addition to the physician shortage, rural organizations must often overcome a bias against small-town life. Physicians often think practicing in rural areas means they’ll be working in an outdated facility with a challenging patient population. Some worry the workload will be too much, while others worry they will be bored in a small town.

The CEO of a healthcare organization in rural West Texas knew all too well the challenges of rural physician recruiting, but he also knew how important it was. For this reason, he tasked the Director of Risk Management, a former nurse who had lived in the area her whole life, with leading the organization’s physician recruitment efforts. Who better to persuade candidates of the charms of living and working in rural West Texas? However, when the organization’s OBGYN gave notice, both the CEO and Director of Risk Management knew they would need a strong physician recruitment partner to help them find a long-term fit for the organization.

A Likeminded Physician Recruitment Team

Fortunately, the CEO had recently received an email from Senior Vice President of Jackson Physician Search, Dane Altman.

“I had the organization on my radar because I knew we could be of service,” Dane says. “I had emailed the CEO a few times, so I was thrilled when he reached out to learn more.”

Dane met with the CEO and the Director of Risk Management to discuss their immediate need for an OBGYN. Dane liked that they had thought through the details of the position and knew exactly who they were hoping to find. Likewise, they were impressed with Dane’s presentation and were in full agreement with the Jackson Physician Search 100% digital approach to physician recruiting. All parties were eager to begin the search for an OBGYN.

Searching for a Unicorn Physician

Director of Recruiting Kirstin Dunbar flew to the organization as soon as possible to tour the facility and profile the job requirements. The hospital was very modern – not at all what many physicians feared about rural facilities. The organization had a highly capable team of FMOBs that could handle the majority of deliveries at the facility, so what they really needed was someone to focus on Gynecological surgeries. No one in a 60-mile radius was performing GYN surgeries, and the market was ripe with opportunity.

After meeting with the CEO and the Director of Risk Management, Kirstin understood why the position might be particularly challenging. Ideally, they wanted a seasoned physician somewhat early in their career who would want to build a life there in West Texas – to become a part of the community. And yet, often the OBGYNs who are ready to give up deliveries and focus on surgeries are older, nearing retirement. Kirstin would be searching for a unicorn, but she assured the administrators that if one was out there, she would find it.

With everything she had learned about the position, Kirstin carefully crafted the physician job description, highlighting the benefits of a rural OBGYN job focused on GYN surgery. The right candidate could expect a high-income potential, backup call only, and an excellent quality of life. The Jackson Physician Search marketing team sent an email featuring the opportunity to the relevant physician database.

Within days, the applicants were rolling in at a higher rate than typically received for OBGYN jobs. Kirstin attributed it to the GYN surgery focus. With so many physicians suffering COVID-induced physician burnout, the idea of backup call and a good work-life balance was more appealing than ever.

The Appeal of Physician Jobs in Texas

Kirstin was thrilled to have 30+ candidates to screen for the job, but when she spoke to Dr. S, she suspected the search was over.

“This is my dream job,” Dr. S said over the phone. Currently practicing in California, Dr. S and her husband had been talking about moving to Texas with their young son. As it did for so many people, the pandemic caused them to question the quality of their hectic lives in California. They wanted a slower pace of life and room to breathe. Like so many Californians are discovering, Texas seemed like the perfect place to find what they were looking for, and a job focused on scheduled surgeries rather than surprise deliveries fit the bill as well.

Kirstin presented Dr. S to the organization, and they too felt like she could be the one. After speaking on the phone, they invited her for an on-site interview. Dr. S was soon on a plane to West Texas to see if, in fact, the job was everything she was hoping for.

Unicorn Dreams Come True

While most on-site physician interviews last a day or two, thanks to her flight being canceled by the airline, Dr. S spent four days in West Texas, getting to know her new employer – and the town she would make her home. She used the time to meet with a contractor about building a new home for her young family. With a signed offer letter in hand, she flew back to California to give notice to her employer, coincidentally telling Kirstin, “This job is my unicorn!”

The client was thrilled with Dr. S and equally happy with Kirstin, Dane, and Jackson Physician Search. Kirstin’s thorough understanding of the role and what the surgical focus could mean for the candidate – both financially and in terms of work-life balance – allowed her to market the job both accurately and attractively, ultimately catching the eye of the exact right physician despite the fact that she was not in an active job search.

The CEO says it best:

“We have used other firms in the past and they appear to be focused on just getting someone to fill the position, not necessarily the RIGHT someone. That was not the case in dealing with Jackson Physician Search! 

In just a little over two months, Kirstin not only filled the position but found the exact person, family, and physician that we were looking for. This cannot be accomplished without her tireless work in understanding not only our needs but also the needs of the community and the provider. The digital model also was highly effective in finding a physician that was not necessarily looking to leave their current position but was intrigued by the opportunity that our organization provided.” 

If you need assistance finding a physician who will be a long-term fit for your organization, Jackson Physician Search is ready to partner with you. Contact us today.


Rural Healthcare Facing Mounting Physician Recruitment Challenges

Rural healthcare organizations are facing ever-mounting financial, recruitment and patient care challenges in the “new normal.” Fortunately, the next wave of financial help is on the way…

[Infographic Guide] Four Digital Physician Recruitment Best Practices

The most effective and efficient way to recruit physicians is through a comprehensive digital recruitment strategy. Only 11% of today’s physicians are actively seeking a new position, while 76% are considered passive candidates…

Need Help Recruiting Physicians?

Click the Get Started button if you’re ready to speak with one of our physician recruitment experts.