Does Your Physician Recruitment Process Need a Roadmap?

By: Allison McCarthy, MBA | amccarthy@barlowmccarthy.com

It’s important to define specific, concrete actions on the part of the prospect that cause them to be moved from one stage to the next. -Hubspot, Inc.

A consistently reliable recruitment process can be tough to achieve. Working with fragmented practice structures, internal personalities, and the unique needs of candidates, it can seem impossible to have streamlined agreement on ways of doing things. But a physician recruitment process map — that outlines the stages and steps necessary to fill an open position with a new physician — is a key tool in having a responsive and organized recruitment approach.

The first step is to outline the basic stages of the process that typically include:

  • Defining the position/opportunity
  • Sourcing for leads
  • Conducting screening interviews
  • Presenting candidates to the internal team
  • Conducting onsite interviews
  • Extending an offer
  • Negotiating the terms
  • Contract signature
  • Onboarding

Once those high level stages are in place, go back and add the specifics — how each stage is implemented, the parties responsible, the time involved and the criteria for completion. This initial version is often more ideal than reality, so we improve the map with a few additional steps:

  • Reflection: Think about the last 5-10 recruits who went through the process. How many touchpoints were actually involved? What were the time intervals from one touchpoint to the next? How did these differ from one specialty/practice to another?
  • Feedback: Review the outlined process with members of your internal recruitment team – administrators, physician leaders, practice managers – and solicit their input. This is the perfect chance to review:
    • The information needed on the front end to initiate a search
    • The number of touchpoints necessary to convert a lead into an actual candidate
    • Candidate perceptions of compensation, practice design, support systems, etc.
    • Responsiveness delays and ways to decrease those time gaps
    • Candidate criteria – the “must haves” versus the “nice to haves”
    • Extending offers – steps to complete, parties to be consulted, those responsible for making the verbal offer, written offer, contract, etc.
  • Track and Measure: With an initial draft in place, decide on the metrics to be used to compare the agreed upon process with what really happens.  Key measures can be created for each process stage.  For example:
    • Actual time between a physician resignation announcement and approval to launch the search for a replacement
    • Average length of time between candidate presentation and screening interview
    • Number of days to extend the offer following the site visit
    • Average time between contract signature and the new physician’s start date

The goal of mapping is to improve the process over time. By reporting on the actual process experience, the internal team can identify ways to remove unnecessary steps or move more quickly through the process.

A critical piece of the process map is to include a clear explanation of what triggers a recruit to move from one stage to the next.  Ideally, it is team performance and/or practice offerings that encourage candidates to move themselves forward – rather than the recruiter pushing everyone along or continuously negotiating to address candidates’ needs and expectations.

This should not be a one and done exercise, but rather a work in progress. Review the map every four to six months with the folks in the trenches with candidates. There is always something that can be tweaked. And doing so will benefit everyone – the recruiters, the internal team, the organization and the candidate.