Skills to Stay Relevant in Physician Recruitment

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

“Distraction leaches the authenticity out of our communications. When we are not emotionally present, we are gliding over the surface of our interactions and we never tangle in the depths where the nuances of our skills are tested and refined.” ― Marian Deegan, Relevance: Matter More

Today’s physician recruiters are drowning in volume – volume in searches, meetings, reports, and so on. These teams are working through tasks as fast as possible – just to avoid getting crushed by all these demands. It’s a little like Indiana Jones running through the cave with a large boulder chasing after him.

This volume of work means that depth of skill and expertise can become diminished.  Physician recruiters are becoming task-focused with strategy and creativity going by the wayside.  As a result, physician recruiters run the risk of being seen as a commodity – parts of the organization who can more easily be downsized or outsourced.  So how do in-house physician recruitment programs stay relevant?  There are three key ways to ensure that the function remains a vital part of the internal team.

  • Knowledge – A common question new physician recruiters ask is “How much do I need to know about the specialty in which I’m recruiting?” The answer is enough to be credible with the candidate and of value to the internal team.  Whether searching for pediatrics or orthopedics, physician recruiters need to know enough of the clinical scope to articulate what is needed and offered.  Without depth of content, promotional messages are flat – sound the same as every other opportunity in that specialty.  Details about things like practice venue, patient mix, schedule, and procedures are necessary to converse effectively with candidates about the distinctions of the opportunity.  And that content is a must for assessing candidate “fit” – for only when physician recruiters can effectively vet candidates can they be of value to the internal team.
  • Innovation – Physician recruitment is a combination of art and science. The “science” piece is significant – with job postings, email messages, site visit itineraries and other tactics as a core part of the role.  But bringing creativity and distinction to crafting messages or an interview agenda brings the art into the mix.  Being innovative requires time and space, so the left side of the brain has the environment needed to work.  Involving others brings diverse work styles and viewpoints that can trigger creative thinking.  Rather than hiding unique ideas, share them with others so that those concepts can be elevated and expanded to something even greater.
  • Relationships – To be successful, physician recruiters must have help from others. Solid relationships with internal stakeholders is a must to bring that new talent into the medical community.  But to engage these critical internal team members, physician recruiters much first get their attention, trigger a desire to provide support, and be open to the recruiter on areas of improvement.  Building these relationships requires time and energy – making the effort to learn what is important to them.  Uncovering mutual goals provide the opportunity for reciprocal give-and-take and ultimately the buy-in needed to get their support.

Hospitals, health systems, and physician groups are going through tremendous change – where market and financial stress has become the rule rather than the exception. Increasing search volume may minimize risk in the short-term, but that volume will also bring increasing vulnerability to irrelevance.  Only by protecting the time needed to invest in learning, thinking and connecting will physician recruiters have the chance to grow as professionals.  Expertise and influence are required to be relevant.