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Physician Plants Roots at Rural Montana Orthopedic Group

Despite Tiny Candidate Pool, Recruiter Finds Physician to Launch a New Program and Plant Roots in a Western Rural Community


The Jackson Physician Search approach of recruiting for retention helps launch a Pain Management and Rehab program with a qualified physician who will succeed and stay at this remote private orthopedic group in Montana.

Despite Tiny Candidate Pool, Recruiter finds Physician to Launch a New Program and Plant Roots in a Western Rural Community

Based in Jackson Physician Search’s Denver office, Senior Search Consultant Misha Fabick knows all too well the specific challenges of recruiting physicians in the western region. While clients in small, remote areas often struggle to attract enough candidates, others, usually in the more picturesque mountain towns, may get applicants but have difficulty with retention. For the latter, the Jackson Physician Search approach of recruiting with retention in mind is especially important.

“Sometimes physician candidates have an idea of what they think life will be like out west, but that first winter can be a harsh reality,” explains Misha. “So occasionally clients partner with us, not because they need help finding someone, but because they need help finding someone who will stay.”

Recruiting for Physician Retention

This was precisely the focus of one of Misha’s clients, a private orthopedic group in an idyllic mountain town. The partners had decided to launch a pain management and rehab program and needed someone who could start the program and run it independently for the foreseeable future. The ideal candidate would be experienced enough to successfully meet the challenge and, ideally, have ties to the area with a desire to put down roots.  

It was a tall order. The type of experience needed was very specific, and there were relatively few fellowships for the specialty. Misha did extensive research to identify a few other paths a candidate might have taken to obtain the necessary experience, but it was still a small candidate pool.

Nevertheless, the location was a draw, so Misha had a number of applicants. However, as she spoke to each of them, she found most had the right experience but did not have ties to the area. She had yet to come across a candidate who indicated the location would be a good long-term fit. Misha recognized that the person she was looking for–a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist who had once lived in the region and wanted to return–may not exist. Still, she wasn’t willing to accept this without using every available resource.

Knowing When to Take a Proactive Approach 

Misha continued to screen applicants but decided also to take a more proactive approach. She used her access to the Profiles database to look for physicians in the right specialty with ties to the region. Her search ultimately led her to Dr. C, a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician completing his training in Dallas. Dr. C was from Montana, and his in-laws lived in the very town where the group was located. In fact, his mother-in-law was a patient of the practice! 

Misha’s only pause was due to the fact that Dr. C would be fresh out of training. The partners specifically wanted a candidate with enough experience to launch a program and run it independently. However, her instincts told her this candidate had what it takes. She talked with him at length about what the role required, the experience he had gained in training, and how he felt about the challenge. Ultimately, she believed Dr. C’s extensive training had prepared him for the role. He, too, felt confident in his ability to successfully launch and run the program.

Trusting Physician Recruiting Instincts

So, despite the group’s instructions not to bring them candidates straight out of training, Misha trusted her instincts and presented Dr. C– along with the reasons she felt they should make an exception and consider him a serious candidate. 

“They were open to talking to him, which is a huge credit to them,” says Misha. “Had they stuck to their original criteria, they would have missed out on him completely.” 

One phone conversation was all it took for the partners to see the same potential in Dr. C that Misha did. They invited him for an on-site interview as soon as possible, which was arranged for the next month. The interview went predictably well, and Dr. C and his wife were able to extend the trip to a visit with family. Clearly, their ties to the area were strong, which reinforced the client’s desire to bring him on board. 

Negotiating the details of the partnership took some time, but within a few months, the contract was signed, and Dr. C will begin with the group upon completing his fellowship this summer.

Secrets of Physician Recruitment Success

Misha took matters into her own hands. Despite an abundance of applicants, she proactively leveraged her resources to find a candidate with ties to the area. Then, when the candidate checked nearly all of the client’s boxes with the exception of one, she trusted her instincts and presented him anyway.

“It’s always a risk,” says Misha, “When you present a candidate who isn’t everything the client has asked for, but in this case, I had to follow my instincts. Fortunately, the client was extremely happy that I did!”

Misha’s proactive approach was critical to the success of the search, but equally important was the client’s openness to speaking with a candidate who didn’t check every box. Because they trusted Misha, they were willing to give Dr. C a chance. As a result, the client hired a qualified physician who is eager to put down roots in the area and grow with the organization.  

Key Takeaways

  • Senior Search Consultant Misha Fabick used every available resource to discover the long-term candidate that the group needed.
  • Determined to prioritize fit, Misha trusted her gut and presented who she knew to be right for the job.
  • Misha’s proactive approach was critical to the success of the search, but equally important was the client’s openness to speaking with a candidate who didn’t check every box.

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