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Physician Recruiter’s Advice Helps Rural Hospital Replace Retiring OB/GYN in <4 Months


When Search Consultant Sonya Cathey began to anticipate that one of a rural West Texas hospital’s physicians was about to retire, she counseled the CEO to initiate a conversation and launch an aggressive search. By crafting a desirable position and keeping an open mind, Sonya’s client was able to hire a replacement in under four months.  

Physician Recruiter’s Advice Helps Rural Hospital Replace Retiring OB/GYN in <4 Months

Just over a year ago, Search Consultant Sonya Cathey first partnered with a critical access hospital in rural West Texas to help hire physicians and advanced practice providers to staff a new, state-of-the-art location. As part of her ongoing work, she communicates regularly with the CEO, and it was during one of these conversations Sonya began to suspect their only OB/GYN on staff was nearing retirement. Though the physician had not shared exactly when he planned to retire with anyone at the hospital, Sonya recognized the signs that suggested it might be coming.

Sonya counseled the CEO to approach the physician about his potential retirement plans, citing data from a recent Jackson Physician Search physician retirement study showing most physicians think six months or less is enough notice to give. Sonya suggested the CEO start the conversation if she wanted time to plan for the departure. Sure enough, when the CEO approached him, the OB/GYN revealed he was planning to retire in just four months. He thought he was giving plenty of notice, but the CEO knew they would be under pressure to find a replacement. 

Creating an OB/GYN Job to Beat the Odds

The national average time-to-fill for an OB/GYN is approximately 8.4 months, and in rural areas, an OB/GYN search often takes twice that long. Sonya shared this data with her client and advised that if they wanted to beat the odds and find someone quickly, they would need to create a highly desirable position. From frequent firsthand conversations with physicians, Sonya knew the common needs of these OB/GYN candidates and used her insights to shape the position and search for success. This meant above-median compensation, recruitment incentives, and a schedule customized to the right candidate’s preferences. The CEO trusted Sonya’s recommendations, and together, they crafted a position with a high compensation package and a proposed 14-on/14-off schedule (though they were open to alternatives). Sonya knew the schedule would be appealing, and because the hospital had several Family Medicine doctors on staff who were trained in obstetrics, the community would still have appropriate OB coverage even when the OB/GYN wasn’t scheduled to work. Gynecological services would be scheduled when the OB/GYN is working. 

As expected, the position received a lot of interest, but Sonya’s networking and familiarity with the Jackson Physician Search database made the top candidates stand out. She recalled a Houston-based OB/GYN, Dr. M, who had interviewed with a different client several months prior. He had been practicing for 12 years and was ready for something different. Sonya felt he’d be a great fit for her West Texas client, and though she knew he wanted to stay in Houston, the 14-on/14-off schedule would give him the flexibility to split his time.

Willing to Do Whatever It Takes 

Dr. M was intrigued by everything Sonya told him about the organization, the new facility, and the people. He asked to be presented for the job, which Sonya did right away. The client quickly scheduled an interview, confident that if he was someone Sonya believed would be a good fit, then he was someone they would likely want to hire. 

Sonya’s instincts were once again right. The hospital was impressed by Dr. M, and the feeling was mutual. Dr. M was upfront about his desire to remain in Houston, so the CEO worked with him to customize a schedule, allowing him to do that while still serving the West Texas community. While it wasn’t the organization’s original vision, it worked for them, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get Dr. M on staff.

Secrets of Rural Physician Recruitment Success

Multiple factors contributed to Sonya’s quick success. First, the relationship she built with the hospital’s CEO meant that she knew what was going on at the hospital and could anticipate the impending retirement. The CEO trusted Sonya’s guidance regarding initiating the retirement conversation, revealing the urgent timeline, and creating the opportunity to prepare. 

Most importantly, the hospital recognized the need to be open-minded and flexible in order to hire a quality physician quickly. The CEO trusted Sonya’s recommendations on what was needed to attract candidates. Once they successfully identified someone, the CEO was willing to tailor the position to meet his needs. As a result, the client was thrilled to hire a replacement for the retiring OB/GYN in less than four months. 

Are you recruiting to replace a retiring physician at your organization? Whether your ideal timeline is in the upcoming months or the following year, the team at Jackson Physician Search has the expertise and access to accelerate your efforts. Reach out today to learn more.

Key Takeaways

  1. Consistent communication between Sonya and the CEO led to the realization that their only OB/GYN on staff would soon be retiring.
  2. The CEO trusted Sonya’s recommendations about what they would need to do if they hoped to find someone quickly.
  3. The client was committed to doing whatever it took to make the position into one that the right candidate couldn’t say no to.

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