COVID-19 Propels Occupational and Environmental Medicine to the Forefront of Public Health


This article is a collaboration between the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Jackson Physician Search. It was first published on the ACOEM website on September 11, 2023. Jackson Physician Search is proud to be an ACOEM-endorsed physician recruitment firm, leading the industry in OEM search. 


The pandemic may be gone, but it’s not forgotten, especially by those in healthcare and corporate America who realize the critical importance of occupational and environmental medicine physicians. They shone through COVID-19 as they do daily, taking care of workers and the businesses that rely on them. The repercussions of climate change mean “added value” for this timely specialty.

The height of the COVID-19 pandemic is gone—but it’s surely not forgotten, even as the public health emergency in the United States ended on May 11, 2023.

The pandemic caused 1,137,057 deaths since Jan. 21, 2021, and it upended healthcare in numerous ways. The specialty of occupational and environmental medicine (OEM) was particularly impacted as its physicians found their special skills to be just what was needed to bring calm to the chaos.

We talked to two dedicated Fellows of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) about what it’s like to practice post-COVID.

Meet Douglas Martin, M.D., of CNOS Occupational Medicine in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, where he focuses on musculoskeletal medicine. He’s extraordinarily active in his field of work and on behalf of ACOEM.

Dr. Martin is joined here by William Brett Perkison, M.D., MPH, assistant professor in the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, where he also directs the residency program. He’s passionate about the next generation that chooses this specialty.

Here’s how both view changes in the OEM landscape since COVID-19.

1. Companies have realized the importance of public health.

As the journal The Lancet, Public Health documented in a May 2022 editorial, the pandemic “is not only a public health crisis but also a social, economic, and political one. Lessons must be learned to ensure that future public health crises are met with resilience, unity, and equity.” The event put OEM doctors front and center, and the academy calls “public health, surveillance, and disease prevention” one of its 10 OEM competencies. When the next public health emergency occurs, who better than OEM physicians to lead the charge? There’s just one problem: More are needed to be able to improve the care and well-being of workers.

“True, visibility has increased, and ACOEM has been asked to come to the table more frequently by government agencies such as NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration),” said Dr. Martin.

“But I think the general viewpoint would be, ‘Wow, these people are really important. Why don’t we make sure there are more of them?’” he said. “I thought there would be more funding for public health jobs, but that hasn’t really happened. Where is the public policy initiative to do that catch-up work after COVID?”

He said he hoped more money would be earmarked for additional medical school spots for public health systems, but that hasn’t happened.

In fact, most funding for OEM residency programs comes from NIOSH. “That results in a finite number of residency positions that creates a real bottleneck and lack of trained OEM doctors,” Dr. Perkison said.

He said his residents find a wealth of opportunities. “ACOEM residents get job offers nine months before they graduate.”

2. Management of large companies realized the tremendous value OEM physicians provide.

Dr. Perkison became immersed in the issue of whether companies should mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. It became an undeniably hot topic, generating intense discussion, as a review of the medical literature verified in a February 2023 study that was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies. The authors looked at 28 relevant articles, finding 12 to be pro-mandatory vaccine, 13 neutral, and three against, and cited “ethical, moral and legal principles” involved here, the same as those faced by OEM physicians on the job during the height of the Pandemic.

Through the university, Dr. Perkison said he “counseled recalcitrant employees who didn’t want to get the vaccine” at a rural agriculture company. “The big city doctor from Texas did not go over well at first, and we answered some questions and responded to lots of misconceptions,” he said. “We didn’t convince everyone—they were going to be let go if they didn’t get vaccinated—but they appreciated our discussions one-on-one.”

3. OEM physicians must manage more work-at-home situations—from afar.

That’s especially true in non-blue-collar industries, Dr. Martin said. “How do you deal with the workplace of a person at home? Everyone’s home is different, and we need to understand ergonomic and workstation challenges. For example, are they working off a laptop and sitting on the couch sideways?”

A personal interview was the former assessment modality of choice until COVID necessitated virtual assessments. “You don’t know if that’s the whole story—it’s a snapshot in time,” Dr. Martin said. “And who else is at home? Are kids using the computer, too, and how much distraction does that cause? Are employees taking a stretch break?”

A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine from September 2021 found employees working from home during COVID-19 experienced lower back pain and weight gain, yet said they felt more productive than at the office.

Working at a central corporate location means OEM physicians could design preventive health programs “for a captive audience,” Dr. Perkison said. “We knew what type of work environment they were in.”

However, not being with employees reduces the clarity afforded by in-person discussions.

“We can try to recognize mental health issues and encourage people to exercise and eat healthy—neither of which we can do as well remotely,” he said. “It is very gratifying to identify actual medical problems before they got worse and to manage those, which is different from treating disease after complications have occurred.”

Dr. Perkison predicts that “transitions back to the workplace are not complete yet, and some corporations haven’t determined what the optimum balance is between home and working elsewhere. It’s possible employees could start migrating back in.”

4. It’s taking longer to deliver appropriate care to patients.

With more health insurance claims managers, or nurse case managers, for example, working from home, that’s created communication issues, Dr. Martin said. “It’s not as fast or efficient as when people worked in offices, and I knew I could reach them there.”

He said that since most of his practice is on-the-job injury care, he frequently refers to physical or occupational therapy. “Pre-COVID, I saw a patient and put in the PT order that was approved the same day or the day after. Now when I call on Monday, it’s voicemail, and the process may require multiple calls. That person with the ankle sprain may have to wait until Friday and then may not make an appointment until Monday.”

Pre-COVID, that patient might have completed between four and six PT visits before they returned to see him for their two-week check-up, but now it may be only one—or none.

“The patient can then place blame on the insurance company or lose confidence in the healthcare system,” Dr. Martin said. “Patients also give up and don’t get something taken care of, or they lean on personal health insurance, which may make a fuss. When they do that, they lose the right to disability impairment and compensation.”

The two insurances may clash and leave the patient holding the veritable bag. It’s a tangled web that may leave the patient “stuck.”

5. Corporations no longer do so much OEM in-house.

“With more employees working from home, that means fewer working in the corporations’ buildings and visiting its in-house clinic,” said Dr. Perkison.

Formerly, a large corporation’s OEM physician worked in an office away from the company’s clinic, where administrative duties such as managing programs and medical surveillance took priority—and meant no hands-on patient care delivered by that physician.

The current trend is seeing more contracting “with the clinic down the road,” he said. It’s already in place, with staff, technology, and supplies.

6. OEM residents have new and varied opportunities.

“We have to instill in medical students that this is a really important specialty to think about,” said Dr. Martin.

And his peers would second that it’s a considerably less-stress specialty than some, that allows for a wonderful quality of work-life balance and a plethora of directions a doctor may take with their career—not just one.

Residency program directors such as Dr. Perkison want residents and fellows to benefit from a wealth of experiences before they graduate. At his institution, they might do a rotation at an oil or gas-related corporation or one of the major, well-respected healthcare organizations in Houston.

“Lifestyle medicine has gotten bigger, as has a holistic approach to medicine overall—both work-related and non-work-related, including stress at work or away,” he said. “Addiction medicine remains important as we work to get people off drugs and get them back to work. Bioinformatics is also coming on, and medical surveillance helps monitor people’s exposure to harmful substances. Treating chronic disease is still a major part of total worker health.”

Candidates can pursue residencies in internal medicine, family medicine, or occupational medicine and then do fellowships, said Dr. Perkison.

7. OEM physicians excel at Long COVID management quandaries.

While the international healthcare community “tries to have some arms around the Long COVID situation,” this specialty understands it and its ramifications well, said Dr. Martin.

OEM physicians’ lengthy experience with the condition since its origin contrasts with the July 31, 2023 announcement of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) formation of the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice. In addition to healthcare stakeholders, the initiative will interface with the business sector, too, HHS said.

Some healthcare advocates wonder why this took so long.

ACOEM has been asked to be involved, Dr. Martin said, and he affirmed that ongoing questions still loom that OEM physicians can help answer where “universal agreement” still lacks.

“We think about what we can do medically to help these patients, especially with regard to best practices and standards,” said Dr. Martin. Two crucial areas include fitness for duty and return to work. “That’s where OEM skill sets come in.”

For example, symptoms such as mental fog differ from physical challenges, and that begs the question: “When should we offer rehabilitation programs?”

8. OEM recognizes the future is here. Now.

The world has acknowledged, perhaps hesitantly, the workplace implications of climate change, Dr. Perkison said. He contributed to an ACOEM Guidance Statement on Prevention of Occupational Heat-Related Illnesses. “We have heat stress and disaster preparedness—this year, we are really feeling the effects. How do we message companies to transition to cleaner energy? When corporations know about us, there’s an opportunity for us to be leaders in the field of change.”


The author, Stephanie Stevens, would like to thank Douglas Martin, M.D., of CNOS Occupational Medicine in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, and William Brett Perkison, M.D., MPH, assistant professor in the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health for their expert contributions to this article.

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Longtime Client Hires Medical Director Thanks to Physician Recruiter’s Ability to See the Big Picture


They say when one door closes, another one opens, and this can be especially true in physician recruitment. It’s always disappointing when an ideal candidate declines an offer; however, we assure clients that we will undoubtedly present another excellent candidate soon. If this occurs on the candidate’s side, our recruiters encourage them to stay positive as they search for other opportunities, knowing the right one won’t pass them by. 

In these situations, it is helpful to have a strategic physician recruiter on your side who can look to their network and quickly source another candidate or present another job opportunity. Director of Recruitment for the Western Division Misha Fabick certainly matches this description, with her recent success in placing an Emergency Medicine physician in Idaho demonstrating the impact of her talent for seeing the big picture.

A Strong Candidate Without an Offer

When one of Misha’s clients in Colorado decided to hire internally for their Emergency Medicine role, Misha assured the candidate she’d been working with, Dr. L, that another opportunity would surface. Dr. L had been out of training for a short time and was practicing at a small community hospital in the DC area while her partner finished school. She and her partner hoped to move out West after graduation, so Misha filed away what she had learned about Dr. L and hoped another promising position would arise in her region.


An Employer Turns to Its Physician Recruitment Partner

A few weeks later, one of Misha’s longstanding clients in Idaho opened a search for an Emergency Medicine physician with an Assistant Medical Directorship attached. Misha was no stranger to rural recruitment. Knowing that 90% of physicians are open to a well-aligned rural opportunity, she was confident the candidate for the scenic location was within arms reach. 

Misha interviewed the stakeholders to learn the details of the position and gain a sense of who they envisioned in the role. In addition to Emergency Medicine experience, the right candidate would be comfortable with some administrative duties, primarily establishing and managing protocols for transporting patients to and from the critical access hospital. 

Connecting the Dots

Misha remembered Dr. L was once an EMT and managed transport while in training. Though she did not have administrative experience, her direct involvement with medical transport would give her the expertise needed for the role. Misha contacted her to tell her about the position and ask if she would consider an opportunity in rural Idaho.

Dr. L was excited to hear about the job and its location. It just so happened that she had grown up in Idaho and was familiar with the area, its natural beauty, and outdoor recreation. It would be the perfect setting for her active lifestyle. The opportunity details also intrigued her and sounded like a good fit, so she was eager to be presented for the job.

A Perfect Pairing

After hearing of the potential match, the group quickly called Dr. L and invited her for an interview. After years of working with Misha, they had fine-tuned the on-site physician interview experience, making a great impression on the candidate. Dr. L was equally remarkable; everyone agreed she would be an excellent fit for the role.

A number of elements play into the completion of any physician search. In this instance, the critical factors were Misha’s ability to vet a candidate thoroughly and then, when necessary, pivot her to a new opportunity. Instead of prematurely considering a search unsuccessful, she recognized a candidate who applied for one position might be an excellent fit for another, perhaps even in a different state. Dedicated physician recruitment partners like Misha can quickly make those connections and see opportunities for success by considering the bigger picture from the start.

Additionally, the client’s ability to act quickly and be flexible in their desire for administrative experience was essential to bringing the search to a successful conclusion. In the physician recruitment process, distinguishing between must-haves and nice-to-haves in a candidate profile can ultimately lead to hiring the best match overall. 

If your organization is searching for a physician, the recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search has both the national reach and regional expertise you need to find and connect with the most qualified candidates from all over the country. Reach out today to learn more.

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How to Evaluate Physician Candidates for Organizational Alignment


With concerns about rising physician turnover and more and more physicians reporting burnout, employers are motivated to find ways to improve physician retention. Organizational culture plays a critical role in employee engagement and job satisfaction, directly impacting retention. For this reason, healthcare leaders recognize the importance of hiring candidates for their ability to succeed in the job and their cultural alignment with the organization.  

At Jackson Physician Search, we talk a lot about hiring for cultural alignment, but what exactly does this mean? An organization’s culture is the manifestation of its mission, values, and beliefs. When employees’ behaviors reflect or align with the organization’s mission, values, and beliefs, it creates a positive corporate culture. Alternatively, when behaviors are misaligned, the environment can feel unstable.     

The importance of cultural alignment is paramount, and yet, it is not measured as easily as other job qualifications. Keep reading for ways hiring managers, recruiters, and other interviewers can better evaluate physician candidates for cultural alignment.

Be Clear About the Organization’s Values and Mission

The organization’s mission and values should be conveyed to the candidate before they even apply – not only on the job advertisement but also on the website and through stories shared via social media channels. In this way, candidates have an opportunity to screen themselves for fit and decide if they want to pursue the opportunity further. That said, healthcare leaders must have a clear vision of what alignment looks like in order to determine if applicants are truly compatible. 

Some questions to consider are: Which current employees best represent the organization’s mission and values? What attributes do they have that the ideal candidate should also have? Gain a consensus about the traits of the ideal candidate, and make sure everyone conducting an interview evaluates for those qualities. Also, select physicians who embody the culture to spend time with the candidate – either in an interview or a more casual setting.

Cultural Fit vs. Cultural Add

While it helps to know which characteristics work best in your group, be wary of hiring physicians identical to others on your team. A recent trending topic among hiring professionals is the difference between hiring for cultural fit vs. cultural add, and it’s worth keeping in mind as you explore candidates. 

Core values manifest differently in individuals, so be encouraging of hiring someone with diverse experiences or a unique personality. Inclusivity will enhance the culture and support your organization’s growth in a positive direction. Ask questions that reveal the candidate’s values, beliefs, and priorities, knowing that rare qualities are welcome and are likely to strengthen the culture as long as the values align.

Ask About Their Experience During the Pandemic

Whether in residency or employed at a hospital, private practice, or other, all healthcare providers have stories to tell about their experiences of the pandemic. For many, the situation brought realizations about what was most important to them professionally and personally. Did the physicians have any “Aha!” moments during the pandemic? There is likely no “right” answer here, but how they talk about that time – what was frustrating, what was inspiring, what they wish had been handled differently, etc. will perhaps give you an idea of what candidates prioritize in a professional environment – and how they might fit into yours.

Listen and Observe

Tune into the candidate’s questions, conversation style, and overall demeanor; it will help to see and understand who they are. Do they consistently interrupt questions before you have finished speaking? Can they concisely answer a question, making their point? Do they speak about past coworkers and supervisors with respect? How do they discuss the different patient populations with whom they have worked?

When candidates take the opportunity to ask questions, look for a theme in their areas of interest. Are they primarily focused on compensation and bonuses? Certainly, questions about compensation structure are expected, but what else do they want to know more about? Are they curious about the team dynamic, average physician tenure, or growth opportunities? Candidates will ask questions about what is most important to them, so give them ample time to show you who they are and what they care about.

Be sure also to observe how candidates behave when introduced to other team members, as well. Are they courteous and personable with staff at all levels, or do they dismiss those not seen as decision-makers in the hiring process? If teamwork and respect for others is a value of your organization, be wary of those reluctant to engage with staff members at every level.

Make It a Priority

Determining how candidates will fit into and add to your organization’s culture should be a primary goal of the interview process. Leaders should have a clear idea of the values they seek in candidates and know they can find those values in various personalities and backgrounds. Don’t rule someone out simply because they don’t think or act exactly like other employees. Differences promote growth.  

As you look for values that align with the organization, listen and observe how candidates engage with others and tune into their attitudes about past colleagues and patients. Let their questions show you what is most important to them. Evaluating candidates for cultural alignment is not easy, but by keeping these points in mind and listening to your intuition, the best candidate for your organization will become clear.

If your healthcare organization is seeking assistance in successfully evaluating cultural alignment in the physician hiring process, the physician recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search will first work to understand your organization’s unique culture and then help you identify the candidates who make the best addition. Reach out to Jackson Physician Search today to learn more.

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Hawaiian Critical Care Group Welcomes Dream Candidate to Dream Role in Under 100 Days


Healthcare organizations of all types, sizes, and locales often find a need for assistance recruiting physicians. Even those in the most beautiful places on earth may struggle to attract candidates if they don’t have the tools, resources, or time to do so. Such was the case for a private critical care group in Honolulu, Hawaii. Historically, it had some success recruiting local candidates but lacked the reach to draw from a national candidate pool. When it became apparent that it needed to look beyond Hawaii to find its next hire, the group turned to Jackson Physician Search. 

Divisional Vice President of Business Development Ben Stajduhar met with the group’s leadership to explain how the Jackson Physician Search 100% digital recruitment strategy would broadcast the job opportunity to relevant physicians all over the country. Our extensive resources allow us to widely spread the word about the job, but ultimately, it is our recruitment team’s industry knowledge and expertise that help us identify the best candidate for the group’s clinical and cultural needs.

While our team members are well-versed in finding physicians for remote locations, Honolulu presented some additional challenges. The high cost of living and limited housing availability would be obstacles to overcome with candidates, and the group’s hesitancy to cover the expense of costly on-site physician interviews would have to be discussed as well. Luckily, Ben knew he could count on our team of dedicated physician recruiters. He enlisted Senior Search Consultant Becky Casias to face the challenges and find the perfect candidate.

Setting Up for Physician Recruitment Success

Becky packed her bags and went to Hawaii to get a firsthand understanding of the community, organization, and role she was recruiting for. Because the group had primarily sourced candidates locally and had yet to partner with a physician recruitment firm, Becky detailed the recruitment process. She shared her extensive knowledge of industry trends and best practices and even helped create or update the necessary documents, forms, and contracts. 

Once Becky and the organization were on the same page and had a clear vision, Becky began setting the search up for success. She crafted a job posting highlighting the most attractive features and distributed it throughout the extensive Jackson Physician Search job board network. She also launched a targeted email campaign to relevant physicians in the database.

A “Dream” Physician Job

Through a physician job board posting, Dr. K saw the critical care opportunity, and she was immediately intrigued. Married with a young child, Dr. K had grown tired of the city life’s hustle and bustle and was looking for a more remote community where she and her young family could build a life. Honolulu seemed like just the right place. 

Becky was thrilled to hear about Dr. K’s interest in the community and was even more excited to learn how well she aligned with the position. Dr. K had worked as a hospitalist in the ICU for two years following residency, where she found her true passion for critical care. She had internal medicine training, critical care training, a fellowship in infectious disease, and experience with transplant surgeries. When Dr. K expressed that the position was her “dream job,” Becky and the client felt she was the one.

A Make or Break On-site Visit

While the cost to fly Dr. K out for an onsite visit was daunting to the healthcare organization at first, Becky ultimately explained how necessary of a step it is in physician recruitment, especially when dealing with unique or remote locations. The candidate’s on-site physician interview would be a crucial part of the recruitment process.

The group decided to place full trust in Becky and went all out to immerse Dr. K and her family in the life they could potentially have in Honolulu. The client gave Dr. K a facility tour, introducing her to potential colleagues. They also intentionally placed her and her family in a local hotel that provided an authentic experience rather than a tourist’s. The group invited the whole family to dinner, gathering activity recommendations and researching 23 neighborhoods nearby to help with house hunting, a common obstacle for those relocating to the area.

Secrets of Physician Recruitment Success

The combination of Becky’s expert physician recruitment knowledge and the critical care group’s willingness to accept feedback both contributed to this search successfully concluding in fewer than 100 days. This search demonstrates how partnering with a dedicated, national physician recruitment firm can open up doors that lead you to candidates who are looking for you just as much as you are looking for them. 

If you need assistance reaching a broader candidate pool, Jackson Physician Search has the resources and expertise to identify the best candidates for your position. Reach out today to learn more.

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National Network, Local Know-How: Transforming Rural Physician Recruitment in Washington


When choosing a physician recruitment partner, it’s beneficial for a healthcare organization to select a firm with expertise in its specific region that has the resources and reputation to attract candidates from all over the country. As Senior Business Development Manager of the Jackson Physician Search Western Region, Eli Jiles regularly stresses the importance of these two factors with potential clients. Director of Recruitment for the Western Division Misha Fabick’s recent work with a rural critical access hospital in Washington demonstrates the impact of these criteria. It celebrates the culture of teamwork that makes Jackson Physician Search consistently successful with organizations nationwide.    

Eli first connected with the CEO of this Washington hospital in July of 2022. The organization had several needs, including a general surgeon and a physician assistant. The CEO was impressed by Jackson Physician Search’s track record of success with rural placements, and he appreciated that a dedicated recruiter would visit the town and get to know the hospital’s culture, as finding a good, long-term fit was imperative. He was also pleased with the terms in our transparent fee structure for opening multiple searches with us and opted to begin a physician recruitment partnership. 

A Beautiful–and Remote–Location

When Misha was assigned the search, she and Eli visited the client together. Located in a beautiful lake community in central Washington, the town was a popular destination for vacationers during the summer months. The town had approximately four thousand residents, but with surging in the summer, that figure more than doubled. The picturesque community would undoubtedly be attractive to candidates, but because it was located more than three hours from Seattle and Spokane, would they want to stay long-term? Determining this would be a priority for Misha as she evaluated applicants.


A Quick Recruit: General Surgeon Hired in 90 Days

The average time-to-fill for physicians varies by specialty and circumstances. Due to the remote location, Misha and Eli had prepared the client for a longer timeline. So, it was a pleasant surprise when Misha quickly received an inquiry from a general surgeon familiar with the area. His wife was from Washington, and they wanted to relocate to be closer to family. He had seen Misha’s job ad and wanted to learn more.

After thoroughly vetting him by phone, Misha was confident he would be a good fit for the organization. Not only did he meet all of the client’s criteria, but he also spoke Spanish–a qualification they were hoping to find. She presented him to the client, who invited him to interview on-site as soon as possible. Once they arrived, the couple fell in love with the town. The candidate’s wife was also a physician and felt it was the perfect place to set up her own private practice, solidifying they were both ready to build a life in the community. Less than a month later, he had signed a contract–just 90 days after opening the search.

Teamwork: The Ultimate Sourcing Tool

Misha persevered with the physician assistant search, responding to applicants, proactively combing databases, and calling leads; however, a referral from a colleague on the East Coast piqued Misha’s interest the most. The candidate was completing her PA training in Florida. Misha’s colleague had noted that she and her husband wanted a significant change, with the primary requirement being that they wanted to continue to live near a body of water. 

Misha reached out to see if the candidate might be interested. After all, the move from Florida to Washington is about as big of a geographical change as you can make in the lower 48! Sure enough, the candidate was intrigued and excited to be presented for the job. 

Misha’s only hesitation was the fact that the physician assistant did not speak Spanish; however, she was so sure of the cultural fit that she presented her to the client anyway. They agreed to talk to the candidate and immediately felt it, too. They quickly invited her to interview on-site. 

The candidate and her husband loved the community, and the organization instantly knew she was a great fit. Fewer than 30 days later, she was signing a contract into her new position. 

National Reach, Regional Expertise

While Misha continues to work on physician searches for the practice, they are delighted with her results thus far. Her familiarity with the Western region and her time spent visiting the community gave her an unparalleled understanding of the culture. The fact that she is part of a national firm with connections to candidates all over the country has also worked in the hospital’s favor, demonstrating why partnering with a firm with national reach and regional expertise is essential. 

If your healthcare organization is hiring a physician, the team at Jackson Physician Search is eager to help. Our time-tested digital recruitment strategy, executed by a recruiter with regional expertise and national reach, is set to deliver results. Contact us today to begin a dedicated physician recruitment partnership.

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Physician Recruiter’s Recommendations Result in 90-Day Medical Director Placement


In any physician search, defining the role requirements involves debating which skills, attributes, and experience are genuinely must-haves versus nice-to-haves. Finding the right balance between the two is crucial for attracting a sufficient amount of qualified applicants. An experienced physician recruiter often knows even before posting the job if the parameters are too tight, that is, if too many “nice-to-haves” are listed as “must-haves.” However, the client may experience limited responses from candidates before they are open to making changes. Once everyone is on the same page, even just a few strategic adjustments can dramatically improve the flow of candidates for a physician job opportunity. 

A recent Medical Director search for a Michigan mental health clinic documents how this process often unfolds. When Search Consultant Cameron Hutt was assigned to the search, the clinic had been recruiting for about a month and had yet to gain traction, so the urgency to fill the position was mounting. Cameron’s strategic recommendations, coupled with the client’s willingness to adapt, caused a dramatic turnaround, and the clinic signed a new Medical Director fewer than 60 days after Cameron took over and a total of 90 days from the start of the search.

Leaning on the Recruiter’s Expertise

When Cameron first met with the clinic’s leadership, they stressed the growing urgency to fill the position. Leveraging her experience and expertise, Cameron voiced her concerns about some parameters hindering the job’s appeal. The current description involved a hybrid schedule, with onsite presence required once a week. Cameron knew it would attract more candidates if it were fully remote. She also pointed out that the compensation range was fairly broad, and it was potentially unclear what candidates should expect to earn. 

Cameron suggested they make the position fully remote to expand the candidate pool and set a narrower compensation range near the top of what was already listed. Initially, the clinic hesitated but ultimately decided to trust Cameron completely.

A Stream of Applicants

Once her proposals were approved, Cameron got to work crafting compelling job ads highlighting the position’s remote nature and the now competitive compensation. After making these adjustments, the position went from needing more responses to receiving a stream of qualified candidates for Cameron to evaluate. 

As Cameron was sorting through the flood of interested physicians, there was one candidate who was impossible to overlook. Although he wasn’t actively searching for an immediate change, Dr. D was passively browsing job opportunities when he came across Cameron’s job ad for the Medical Director role. He picked up the phone to call Cameron to share his interest, and she was certainly glad he did.

An Ideal Candidate

Dr. D was everything that the clinic was looking for. He was currently the Medical Director of another organization in the Michigan area but was becoming increasingly unfulfilled at that specific clinic. He was hoping to move to a different organization nearby where he could continue as a Medical Director with the opportunity to be more hands-on and impactful. Luckily, the new ratio of administrative to clinical time Cameron had advocated for would allow Dr. D to do exactly that at the mental health clinic.

Cameron presented Dr. D to the clinic’s CEO, and the process moved quickly from there. The CEO knew from the first conversation that Dr. D was the one. Since he was already local, they conducted the on-site physician interview right away, and everyone came to the same conclusion: Dr. D was the ideal candidate for the Medical Director job.

Secrets of Physician Recruitment Success

Cameron’s recommendations were the key to attracting candidates, but the clinic’s ability to trust her expertise and make the necessary adjustments was just as significant. Once they set the right parameters, the Jackson Physician Search digital recruitment process ensured the most qualified candidates saw the job ad, which compelled them to reach out. From there, Cameron leaned on her expertise to identify the best candidate to meet her client’s needs. And, of course, the clinic did an excellent job of showcasing how it could meet the needs of Dr. D. Though he wasn’t in an active job search, he couldn’t deny that the opportunity was just what he needed. He was happy to sign the contract into his new practice, and Cameron was proud to close out the search just two months after taking over — a total of 90 days from the start of the search.

If your organization has an urgent need, our team of expert recruiters is ready to make recommendations and offer resources to accelerate your physician search. Reach out today to partner with a dedicated physician recruitment firm.

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3 Advantages of Working with a Regional Physician Recruitment Partner


Every day on her way to work at the Jackson Physician Search Dallas office, Director of Physician Recruiting Tonya Hamlin passes by the new tower being built for a hospital that happens to be one of her ongoing clients. Over the past year, she’s been speaking with candidates for this client and simultaneously watching the development of the tower, allowing her to share the building’s beauty as construction progresses.

“The idea of working in a brand new building is appealing to candidates,” says Tonya. “And because I live here in Dallas, I can tell them firsthand what I see as the building goes up. I can also help them understand the different parts of town and where they might want to live in terms of traffic and access to the hospital and other parts of town. I know and love Dallas, and I think that comes through when recruiting physicians to the area.”

Tonya demonstrates the advantages her Texas clients gain by working with her and the Jackson Physician Search Texas office. Having spent years recruiting physicians to Texas healthcare facilities, she understands the state’s unique market and can quickly identify physicians most likely to find long-term success there. Her state pride shines through whenever she speaks with candidates, though she is also transparent about the challenges of living in some areas. Tonya paints a realistic picture of life in Texas for potential candidates, which physicians appreciate. Her clients also enjoy that she is easily accessible for face-to-face meetings when needed. She can hop in the car to visit local sites, and direct flights from Dallas are readily available for those farther than a few hours’ drive.

So, does it really matter where a physician recruitment partner is based? The current popularity of remote work and telework might make you think geography is less relevant to business partners. It is true that the work of physician recruitment can be done from anywhere, and it is important to work with a partner that has established connections nationally, not just in one region. Although, a recruiter who lives and works in your region will be more likely to understand and react to the nuances of your market, communicate the area’s appeal to candidates authentically, and be available when and where you need to connect. Keep reading to explore the advantages of working with a physician recruitment partner that has both national reach and regional expertise.

Regional Physician Recruitment Advantage #1: Market Expertise

Working with a physician recruitment partner in your region ensures your recruiter knows exactly how to attract and retain physicians nationwide to your specific area. When a recruiter is exclusively focused on recruiting physicians to one region, he or she becomes an expert on that market in terms of what employers are offering in the area and what physicians expect. 

In a recent physician search in rural Nebraska, Senior Search Consultant Evan Kaspar was able to present his client with real-time data on signing bonuses offered by rural organizations in the same market. From his own experience in the market, he knew precisely how much was needed to make an impact. The client trusted Evan’s expertise and moved forward with a bonus in line with Evan’s recommendation. As a result, the position quickly had multiple applicants. 

Takeaway: The physician recruiters at Jackson Physician Search are constantly communicating with healthcare administrators in their regions as well as physicians working or seeking work in their specific areas. This gives each recruiter a finger on the market’s pulse, which he or she can then leverage to help clients make the right offer to the best candidate.

Regional Physician Recruitment Advantage #2: Regional Pride

When recruiting physicians to a new area, no one sells an opportunity better than a recruiter who loves and lives in the area he or she is recruiting for. 

Senior Director of Recruiting Carly Clem demonstrates this truth in her 11-year partnership with a hospital client out of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Not only does she visit the facility several times a year, but she also previously lived in the area. Having firsthand knowledge of the city, Carly can reliably describe what it’s like to live there. This is especially helpful because, while the client has built up a strong employer brand locally, physicians coming out of residency are typically unfamiliar with the facility and its location. Carly’s genuine depiction of the area and its amenities often makes candidates more inclined to visit.

Takeaway: While not every recruiter will have direct ties to a client’s location, residing in the same region establishes common ground and ensures an appreciation of both the rewards and challenges of a given location.   

Regional Physician Recruitment Advantage #3: Ease of Access

Helen Falkner, Regional Vice President of Recruiting for the Jackson Physician Search Western Division, is based in Denver, where she manages a team of recruiters who also live in the area. They work with clients all over the region that often face similar recruitment challenges, so she and her team have become experts in the market, which clients value. Helen notes that clients also appreciate that she can hop on a direct flight to reach most of her clients.

“If we were working out of the Jackson Physician Search headquarters in Atlanta, traveling to some of our Western clients would require a full day of travel and multiple flights. But from Denver, we have many clients within a few hours’ drive or accessible by a direct flight,” Helen explains. “Being in the same time zone as most of our clients is also helpful in terms of scheduling calls and meetings.” 

Takeaway: Working with a regional recruitment partner makes scheduling calls and in-person meetings easier and reduces travel costs.

National Reach, Regional Expertise

As noted earlier, it is critical that a physician recruitment partner has a reputation nationally and the tools to source candidates from all over the country. A quality partner has the ability to reach active and passive candidates nationwide; however, they should also have expertise in your given market. That is, they understand the specific challenges organizations in the region face and know what it takes to attract candidates to jobs there. Their enthusiasm for living in the region shines through with candidates, and they are easily accessible for calls and client meetings. For these reasons, working with a nationally backed, regional recruitment partner will best position healthcare organizations for physician recruitment success.

If your organization needs a partner with both national reach and regional expertise, reach out to the Jackson Physician Search recruitment team today.

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4 Reasons More Organizations Are Hiring Physician Executives


While physicians have long been thought of as leaders in the community, the last decade has seen an increase in the number of physician executives leading healthcare organizations. However, a broader look at the timeline reveals the current percentage is still much lower than it was nearly a century ago. In an article for the Journal of Hospital Administration, author Amol K. Gupta notes that the number of physician-led healthcare organizations has decreased by 90% since 1935. Upon the article’s writing, in 2019, only 5% of healthcare organizations were led by physician executives. 

While we may not see this percentage achieve its historical high, for a number of reasons, we can expect to see a continued increase in the number of physician-led organizations. Keep reading to learn more about why we will continue to see an increasing number of organizations hiring physician executives. 

Higher Quality Scores Correlate with Physician CEOs

The US News and World Report’s annual list of the nation’s best hospitals hold a disproportionate number of physician-led organizations. Despite the fact that only a small percentage of healthcare organizations have physician CEOs, more than half of the organizations on the list are led by physician executives, including familiar names such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins. 

The aforementioned article for the Journal of Hospital Administration explored how leaders’ professional backgrounds might influence the quality of the healthcare organizations they lead. The author notes a correlation between these physician-led organizations and higher quality scores. However, further research is required to prove causation is the professional background and not some other quality or characteristic those CEOs have in common. Certainly, the indication that the presence of physician CEOs increases quality scores is one reason more organizations are seeking to hire physician executives. 

Physician Executives Improve Communication 

The benefits of physician executive leadership are many, though often the first to come to mind is their usefulness as liaisons between hospital leadership and medical staff. Because they have direct experience with patients, physician executives may garner more trust and respect from staff than other executives. As a result, news of policy changes and other decisions may be more easily digested when it comes from a physician leader. Physician executives also bring a clinical perspective to the boardroom, ensuring administrators understand the potential impact of their decisions on clinical staff and patients. 

In this way, physician executives are able to improve the lines of communication between clinical staff and administration, which ranks high in importance for most physicians. In a 2022 JPS-MGMA study, physicians ranked two-way communication with management as the most important factor in job satisfaction — above compensation. However, when asked to rate their employers in this area, just one in four said two-way communication at their organization was “good” or “very good.” Physician executives are well positioned to improve in this area and thus increase physician job satisfaction at their organizations.  

Market Creating More Physician Leaders

In order to stay relevant in today’s market, healthcare organizations must act more like corporations, with patients as customers. This corporatization of medicine is creating more business-minded physicians. In the past, physicians were focused primarily on diagnosing and delivering care. Now, physicians in every type of practice setting are all too aware of the need to grow the patient base, obtain referrals and positive online reviews, and of course, stay up to date on insurance-related issues. For these reasons, every physician receives an education in the business of healthcare from day one.

While many receive this education by default, still others are doubling down on their advanced degrees, either opting to pursue an MBA alongside their MD or choosing to go back to school for an MHA or MBA while working full-time as a physician. The number of physicians who also have a business degree is increasing annually

As more and more physicians gain the foundational business skills required to lead healthcare organizations, the candidate pool for physician executive jobs expands, making it more likely that organizations will be able to hire physicians for executive jobs successfully. 

Role of Physician Executive Evolving

As organizations seek new ways to reach patients and improve the way care is delivered, they will need leaders who not only understand business but who are also experts in the services sold — in this case, healthcare. Now more than ever, organizations need physician executives who not only serve as a bridge between administration, clinical staff, and patients; they need physician executives to think strategically about how to grow the patient base and innovate on the best ways to deliver care. The role of physician executive is evolving, and as it expands, physician executives will only become more valuable to the organizations they serve.

If your organization is seeking a physician executive to lead your organization, the Physician Executive Search team at Jackson Physician Search is eager to leverage our considerable network to help you find the best physician leader for your organization. Every physician executive role is unique, and we look forward to learning more about your needs. Reach out today for more information.

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[Infographic Guide] 4 Physician Hiring Trends to Inform Your Physician Recruitment Strategy


Despite the tightening physician recruitment market, Jackson Physician Search is placing more physicians year after year, and the average number of days it takes to place them has decreased. This demonstrates that physicians can indeed be found when the recruitment process is strategic, and the offer is right.

This leads to the question,”What does it take to recruit a physician in the current market?”

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but in a 2023 report, Physician Recruitment Trends: Responding to a Changing Post-Pandemic Market, the Jackson Physician Search Regional Vice Presidents of Recruiting, based in offices around the country, discuss their clients’ most pressing challenges and share the recruitment strategies they find most effective in today’s evolving market. The key physician hiring trends and takeaways are as follows.

4 Physician Hiring Trends and How to Respond

A recent report from Jackson Physician Search, Physician Recruitment Trends: Responding to a Changing Post-Pandemic Market, identifies several developments in the national recruitment market. The following four trends, seen in our placement data and observed by our tenured physician recruitment team, serve to inform your approach to the tightening market. 

Physician Hiring Trend #1: Increasing Need for Primary Care, Mental Health, and Advanced Practice Providers

  • Primary care placements increased 24% in 2022, with OBGYNs seeing the most growth. 
  • Mental health placements increased 85% from 2020 to 2022 as mental health problems climbed nationwide. 
  • Nurse Practitioner placements in 2022 were 4 times the volume of NP placements in 2020. 
  • Demand for CRNAs is at an all-time high, as are the rates to staff them.

Takeaway: Know which specialties are in the highest demand and be prepared to try something new in your recruitment strategy, be it a signing bonus, more flexibility, or broader search parameters. 

Physician Hiring Trend #2: Rising Demand for Specialists Who Care for Broad Patient Panels

Specialists coming out of training today want to focus on a subspecialty and treat patients in their niche area of expertise rather than a broad patient panel. However, organizations need specialists who will see a broad patient panel, as many retiring specialists do today, specifically neurologists, urologists, and ENTs.

Takeaway: Get creative to find ways a subspecialist can pursue his or her passion while also providing care for the broader panel of patients. 

Physician Hiring Trend #3: More Signing Bonuses and Higher Salaries

Signing bonuses, once nice to have, are now standard, and starting salary guarantees are often above the median as reported by MGMA DataDive Provider Compensation

  • Nationally, 3 out of 4 placements included signing bonuses.
  • In the Midwest, 92% of placements had signing bonuses attached, and 60% had salary guarantees above the median.

Takeaway: A signing bonus may not be in the budget, but when you factor in lost revenue caused by a vacancy and the cost of a locum tenens provider, if it allows you to fill the position faster, a bonus will save the organization money in the long run. 

Physician Hiring Trend #4: Shifting Expectations

Physicians old and young seek better work-life balance. 

  • Flexible schedules such as a 4-day work week, 7 on / 7 off, or 3 weeks per month are increasingly standard.
  • More or unlimited paid time off, paid sabbaticals, medical mission opportunities, job sharing―organizations are getting creative in order to differentiate themselves and satisfy new expectations.  
  • Specialists that can work via telehealth (psychiatry, radiology) are difficult to recruit for positions that require them to be in the office full-time.

Takeaway: Organizations that offer flexible schedules, more paid time off, and the option to spend time working remotely are more likely to succeed in attracting and retaining physicians.  

The market is always changing. Trust a physician recruitment partner with national reach and regional expertise to advise on what’s happening in your specific market.  Reach out to the Jackson Physician Search Team today.  

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What to Expect from a Physician Executive Recruitment Partner


Can physician executives lead the healthcare industry through these unprecedented times? Physician CEOs lead some of the most respected and successful healthcare organizations, and the trend is catching on. Healthcare organizations increasingly recognize the value that physicians bring to healthcare leadership roles and are hiring more physician executives

There is little doubt that an intelligent physician executive has the potential to bring tremendous benefits to an organization. However, identifying and hiring a qualified physician executive who will be effective in your organization is no small task. This is why many organizations will partner with a trusted physician executive search firm to help them establish and execute an effective search.   

What should you expect from a physician executive search partner? To find out, we asked Dirk Jansson, Director of Physician Executive Search at Jackson Physician Search, to share the process he outlines for clients as he prepares them for an effective search.  

Expect to Spend Considerable Time Upfront Defining the Role of Physician Executive

Perhaps the most important part of the physician executive search process is defining what the role looks like at your organization and coming to a consensus with all stakeholders about what the ideal candidate looks like. 

“If our client organization can calibrate this correctly on the front end, it can make a major difference in the timeline of the search,” says Dirk. “If we present candidates who fit the criteria that one administrator has about the role, but other decision-makers covet a different set of qualifications, those candidates will likely be rejected, and it’s possible you are back at square one 60-90 days into the search.” 

Dirk stresses that the role of physician executive is unique in every organization. There is no template job description, so it’s imperative that all stakeholders agree on what is needed from the role at your specific organization. Once clear, a good physician executive search partner can help you identify an acceptable compensation range for the role. However, what the physician executive job entails varies drastically, so there is not always clear market data on compensation for the role. For this reason, clients must expect to be flexible on compensation and be prepared to offer compensation commensurate with the criteria they set. 

Expect a Targeted Pool of Physician Executive Candidates

In a traditional physician search, a recruiter can pull data on the number of physicians in a given specialty in the market and then use statistics to estimate what percentage of those specialists are likely seeking a new job. This gives you an idea of the size of the pool of potential candidates for your physician job. There is no equivalent formula to determine the size of the pool of potential physician executives for your role. This is because the requirements of your specific job are more nuanced and unique to your organization. Finding any one candidate, much less a “pool” of candidates, who checks all the boxes and is open to accepting a new position is challenging. There is a reason you’ll occasionally hear recruiters say they are “searching for a unicorn.” 

That’s not to say the ideal candidate for your role doesn’t exist. Dirk explains: 

“Typically, after around 60-75 days, our team has vetted enough prospects to provide a comprehensive analysis of the true candidate market, including a rolling slate of the most qualified and interested candidates for our client to interview.  

“Occasionally, a search’s criteria is so specific that the market analysis indicates an especially limited pool of qualified and attainable prospects, or that the attainable ones are not in the established “price range.” In those cases, we’ve often been able to identify alternative experiences/qualifications that closely resemble or simulate the unmatched criteria or have details on the compensation range needed to secure the target candidate, and we’ll use that data to consult and collaborate with our clients on how best to move forward. Ultimately, we’re going to give our clients all the information they need in order to be comfortable and confident with whatever decision they make.”    

Expect a Proactive, Network-Driven Approach

Online physician job boards and job alert emails are essential for effective physician recruitment in a digital world. Likewise, a comprehensive physician executive recruitment strategy will also leverage these tools. However, because of the unique candidate requirements, it is unusual for the majority of incoming applications to be from qualified physician executive candidates. In addition, most physician leaders who are qualified for executive roles are simply not actively seeking new jobs. So, while a well-distributed physician executive job advertisement may elicit a few qualified applicants, a physician executive search team will spend extensive time proactively researching and building a pool of potential candidates. 

“In building the target candidate pool, we look at all aspects of the client, including geographical location, organizational size, type, and setting, and the scope and functional needs of the specific role. Then, a strong research team will use a suite of best-in-class resources to identify a list of prospects that are most likely to be qualified for and interested in the opportunity. Among other activities, they may cross-reference an internal database or use a social platform to network,” says Dirk. “And then finally, when a search consultant reaches out, it doesn’t always end where they’re recruiting that person specifically, because even if they are not interested, but our research is accurate, he or she may know someone else who would be a good fit.”   

A proactive approach like this may be part of the process when filling a physician job, but clients searching for a physician executive should expect this to be the cornerstone of an effective recruitment strategy. This is why it’s essential to partner with a physician executive search firm that has been nurturing its network of physicians for decades. 

When the Time Comes, Expect to Act Quickly

When a physician executive candidate is identified as a good fit, clients must prioritize scheduling the interview. With multiple high-level executives involved, it may be impossible to find a convenient time for everyone, so be prepared to reschedule other meetings in order to move the process forward with a candidate. 

“We talk a lot about the importance of establishing a process and being ready to execute it quickly when the time comes,” says Dirk. “From the beginning, I’m clear about the steps we’ll be taking in order to bring them candidates. We then collaborate to outline the expected steps once we present candidates. We stress that they must be prepared to act quickly — not just with respect to scheduling the interview, but also collecting feedback, scheduling follow-up calls, determining the offer, and then negotiating that offer. The process should be outlined before we reach this stage.”

The speed of a physician executive search largely depends on the client’s preferences and ability to act. By establishing a process in the early stages of the search, all stakeholders will know what is expected and be able to execute their parts quickly. 

Preparing for a Successful Physician Executive Search

It’s critical that organizations have a well-defined process for identifying and recruiting physician executive candidates. A good physician executive search partner can help to establish and execute this process. Much of this work is done on the front end of the search when administrators can expect to spend time defining the physician executive role for their specific organizations and outlining what the recruitment process looks like once a suitable candidate is presented. That is, what steps are needed for scheduling interviews, gathering feedback, and determining if, when, and what kind of offers are made? These questions must be answered early in the process in order to keep the momentum going when a candidate is identified. 

The physician executive search process requires patience and commitment from all stakeholders. By setting expectations early, all parties involved know what parts they will play and when they will be expected to play them, which is essential for a successful physician executive search.

Is your organization seeking to hire a physician executive? Reach out to the Physician Executive Search team at Jackson Physician Search today to learn how our experience and expertise, not to mention our relationships with physicians in all stages of their careers, can ease and accelerate your search. 


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