When is the Right Time to Ask for Physician Recruitment Help?

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Time is money, especially when it comes to the amount of time it takes to fill a physician vacancy.  The costs that are accrued from the time a position becomes vacant to the date it is filled can reach up to $1 million in lost revenue, based on the specialty. Whether you are an administrator for a large system hospital or a small community health center, managing your time-to-fill rates are critical in today’s competitive physician recruitment and hiring environment.  More and more, organizations of all sizes are evaluating their internal recruitment and retention process to ensure they are maximizing their return on investment.  The stark reality of physician supply and demand is that no matter how good your internal recruitment teams are, there will always be a time when they could use some help from a trusted recruitment partner.  Let’s answer the question that more healthcare administrators find themselves asking, “When is the right time to ask for recruitment help?”

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, as it depends on a lot of factors that are specific to your organization.  Things to consider are the effectiveness of your current in-house recruitment operation, how many vacancies are currently in the pipeline and do the vacancies include hard to fill specialties like family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine, and OB/GYN.  Another important consideration when determining the right time to partner with a recruitment firm is how many hats your in-house recruiters are wearing in addition to sourcing candidates.  Are they responsible for sourcing, screening, setting up interviews, coordinating site visits, participating in interviews, and coordinating credentials?  Let’s face it, recruiting is a lot more than sourcing candidates, and when you are projecting vacancies due to retirements or planned expansion, finding a reliable, trusted recruitment partner can be the difference between finding a candidate who is the right fit and settling on a candidate to fill a vacancy.

Hard-to-fill Vacancies

One scenario that qualifies as a perfect time to establish a relationship with a physician search partner is when you have a hard-to-fill vacancy.  The market for physicians is competitive as it is, not to mention finding one of the aforementioned high-demand/low-supply vacancies.  Enlisting the help of a trusted firm can help you access a broader pool of candidates, including passive candidates who are only casually keeping an eye on opportunities.  A professional physician search firm will provide you with access to detailed candidate information, the latest technologies, and proven systems that can cast a wider net to find your perfect candidate.  It is never wrong to have a trusted partner do the heavy lifting on those difficult-to-fill vacancies.

Short-staffed Recruitment Team

Every organization goes through periods where individual departments are short-staffed due to illness, maternity and paternity leave, vacations, promotions, etc.  Considering the costs we have already mentioned, no amount of time is acceptable to leave a vacancy dormant.  Once you have established that working relationship with a search partner, it becomes easier to off-load searches onto an external team if your internal team is currently understaffed or overwhelmed.  Each month on average, a physician vacancy is costing you up to $150,000, so it makes sense in every perspective to keep the flow of candidates going, no matter what the situation may be with your team.

Understand Your Numbers

It may sound simplistic, but if you don’t understand your key recruitment metrics, you may never know when you have a problem.  Benchmarking your process gives you insight that allows you to adjust to fill gaps.  You should measure key data points, such as Time to Fill, # of Interviews until Hire, Acceptance Rate percentage, and three and five-year retention rates.  If you know these numbers, you will know if you need to bring on external recruitment help. Your numbers should also tell you your total cost to hire and your return on investment.  If you need to calculate what your current recruitment ‘Return on Investment’ is, find an ROI Calculator here.

Maintaining Momentum

How many times has your organization thought they had found the right candidate to fill a physician vacancy, only to find out that they accepted another offer? Once is too many if you are looking at your bottom line.  An often overlooked aspect of physician recruitment is what comes after you’ve sourced a candidate.  If your in-house recruiters are responsible for coordinating interviews, site visits, and everything else that goes into the hiring of a physician, then it pays to be cognizant of their workload.  When your team is juggling a lot of searches and the accompanying details, it is the perfect time to offload a couple of searches onto your external search partner to maintain the momentum with candidates that are already in the pipeline. Once a candidate is interested in your position, never drop the ball. From the first contact to the coordination of an interview, the interested candidate should feel reciprocal interest from your team. Allowing your internal teams to concentrate on maintaining that momentum while your external partner finds you candidates is an appropriate way to divide up the workload during periods of heavy activity. Here are a few key tips for maintaining momentum with a candidate:

  • The first contact with a presented candidate should be within 24 – 48 hours.
  • Set up an interview at the candidate’s earliest convenience. Be flexible!
  • Prepare a winning site visit. Don’t skimp, tailor the site visit to each specific candidate to show you are interested (please watch singular versus plural).
  • Don’t forget to recruit the physician’s family just as hard.
  • Have the framework of a contract in place and agreed upon by key stakeholders. Waiting on contract approvals is a sure way to lose candidates.
  • Maintain regular contact straight through the onboarding process.

Finding the right search partner can make all the difference in your recruitment process, but don’t discount how recruitment feeds into retention.  When you focus on the end result of finding the right candidate, you are in turn finding a candidate that naturally fits your organization and has a better chance to stay engaged, be productive, and want to stay in the position longer.  More than in years past, physicians want to find an organization that has a similar culture and values to their own.  Hiring for fit is the single best way to improve retention, and finding those candidates often requires more than posting your vacancy on a couple of job boards. Working with a recruitment partner is one way that you can expand the resources that are available to you and engage both active and passive candidates to your organization.

Jackson Physician Search is a healthcare industry leader and is poised to be the physician recruitment partner that your organization needs.  Contact our recruitment professionals today and learn how we can help you find physicians who fit, succeed, and stay.

 

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