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Recruiter Finds General Surgeon to Start Surgical Unit at Rural West Texas Clinic


When Senior Search Consultant David Isenberg took on a search for a general surgeon for a rural West Texas healthcare organization, he knew it wouldn’t be easy. Thanks to his skilled usage of digital tools and a strong partnership with the CEO, they were able to identify a surgeon already in the region who was eager to make a physician career change. 

Recruiter Finds General Surgeon to Start Surgical Unit at Rural West Texas Clinic

When the new CEO of a West Texas clinic wanted to start an in-house surgical unit, he knew finding the correct physician for the rural job would be difficult. Even those candidates who would be willing to start a life in the small West Texas town might find the idea of starting a brand new program risky. Fortunately, the clinic had a history of successful physician recruitment with Jackson Physician Search, as Senior Search Consultant David Isenberg had already placed primary care physicians with the hospital. He had been onsite, met with the stakeholders, and had a solid understanding of the culture of both the organization and the community.

The new CEO had also worked with Jackson Physician Search at a different organization and knew Senior Vice President of Business Development Dane Altman well. Despite its unique challenges, he was confident that David could replicate his success in this new search.

Tackling the Physician Recruitment Obstacles Head-On 

David met with the CEO to discuss anticipated obstacles and physician recruitment strategies to overcome them. As David saw it, the most considerable difficulty would be finding someone willing to start a program without hard proof of a need. The clinic currently referred its patients to a surgical center in another town, so it wasn’t clear how many would stay onsite for treatment if available. However, opening this in-house program would provide closer access to care for its community as well as those surrounding it, which the CEO knew would be beneficial. 

David recommended a competitive salary guarantee for two years to overcome the potential uncertainty candidates would feel. This would allow the surgeon to earn above-median compensation while ramping up the new program. David also got a commitment from the CEO that the organization would leverage all its resources to market the new program to the community and do whatever was needed to make the program successful. The new hire would have the organization’s full support. 

The CEO was very open to David’s recommendations regarding compensation and marketing the position. He had decades of experience in rural healthcare but respected David’s market expertise and eagerly implemented his advice. Likewise, David recognized the CEO’s extensive experience, and the two worked together in a way that benefited the recruitment process. 

Targeting Regional Surgical Candidates 

David knew from placing hundreds of physicians over the years that candidates already living in the region or with ties to the area would be most likely to consider jobs there (and stay long-term). So, David leveraged the Jackson Physician Search database of candidates and Doximity to identify general surgeons working in West Texas and those originally from West Texas. Through these efforts, David identified multiple potential candidates. The CEO was pleased with the number of candidates David brought in and the speed at which he acquired them. One such candidate was Dr. G, a general surgeon born in West Texas and working in the region — a double hit!

Dr. G was working for another group in West Texas. He was seeking a change but wanted to stay in the region. Though David’s client would require a relocation (West Texas is a big place!), the candidate was intrigued by the idea of starting a new program. While this ruled the opportunity out for some candidates, it was the most attractive thing to him. Dr. G saw it as a huge opportunity. 

David presented multiple candidates to the CEO, who invited several for formal in-person interviews. Though he was impressed by all of them, in the end, Dr. G was the favorite. The feeling was mutual. Dr. G felt the clinic would be a great fit, but finding the right home for his family could be challenging. His wife had very specific needs, and it could take time to find a place that could accommodate them. With this in mind, David worked with the CEO to approve a short-term period where he would commute from his current home. This would allow him to start quickly, even if the home search took time.   

Secrets of Rural Physician Recruitment Success

Thanks to David’s expertise and the CEO’s proactive participation, what everyone expected to be a long, difficult search was filled in just 100 days. David attributes the success to his solid relationship with the CEO. The pair formed a true partnership, communicating regularly and reacting to the other’s requests quickly. The CEO was always ready to provide feedback and schedule meetings to keep the process moving, something essential for rural physician recruitment success. David is grateful for the partnership and looks forward to working on the clinic’s next physician search.

If your organization is facing a difficult search, reach out to the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search to learn how we can help.

Key Takeaways

  1. Because the surgeon would be starting a new program, David recommended a competitive salary guarantee for the first two years to eliminate concerns about the ramp-up period.
  2. David skillfully leveraged Doximity, the largest online network of physicians, to identify general surgeons currently living in or with ties to the region.
  3. The CEO was highly engaged and responsive to David’s recommendations, always quick to provide feedback and take action when needed. 

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