Barlow/McCarthy Blog

Check back often to hear from our talented team of consultants. Topics covered include: Physician Relations, Physician Recruitment, Practice Marketing, Medical Staff Development, Community Health Needs Assessments, etc.

  • By: Tony Barlow |

    The recruitment landscape is (and always has been) a bit of a moving target. For most recruiters there is a never-ending quest for the right candidates at the right time. Methods for sourcing candidates have been changing at a faster pace in recent years as technology has evolved. Tried and true methods of sourcing like cold calling, direct mail and job fairs continue to be productive if managed correctly. However, modern day methods like email, social media and digital job boards have taken a huge chunk of the market in recent years.

    In 2017 our team at Barlow/McCarthy intensified our use of email as a sourcing tool for our clients. WOW, were we impressed with the results. We found solid leads in both the resident and practicing physician space. In addition, we gleaned important details from physicians about our opportunities. From our client’s perspective the ability to source solid leads at a fraction of the cost of other sourcing methods proved to be very valuable.

    Email serves two specific roles, the first is sourcing active candidates, finding doctors who are ready to be hired- working those found leads. The second is a bit more obscure but also very important, it is to market your hospital and opportunities to physicians who may not be ready to be hired now but might be in the future. Statistics say that 70% of physicians will leave their first job within 2 years. We want the messaging they hear as a resident to make a solid impression for when they get ready to make that move.

    The basics of email marketing remain the same. Subject line is incredibly important, not just for the reader but also for the filters that might label your message spam. After speaking with residents about their inbox, most said large recruitment firms were the most active emailers. Differentiation is key. Be honest and genuine in your subject line and you will cut through the clutter and stay out of the SPAM box. A good first line and solid first paragraph are also important to convince the prospect to continue reading. Then you want to provide a few important details, the key is to give that perfect bite of information. Remember the goal here is a conversation! Finishing the email is where you make the connection and prompt a reply, give them a solid reason to get back in touch with you to complete the transaction.

    One of the other elements that became apparent over time was how important it was to be persistently (but not obnoxiously) present in their inbox. You want to be there when they are ready to make a decision. Take a look at the image below (we have grayed out the contact information and campaign titles), it is a fascinating case study that we saw repeated several times. Working from bottom to top you can see the statistics for 8 messaging campaigns, with a campaign being sent each month. The physician opened each email 1 to 2 times, but it took until the 8th email for him to show intense interest by opening the email 20 times. The candidate also replied to the email and became an active lead for our client. What if we had only sent one message? Do you think we would have gotten the lead?

    While the methods for sourcing candidates are constantly evolving the basics remain the same. You are looking for a needle in a haystack! Putting together an organized and strategic messaging campaign can set your opportunities apart from the rest. It is important to do the messaging, follow the statistics and find a routine that is effective for your organization.

    Have a few more questions or want to learn more about working with Barlow/McCarthy? We are currently planning our messaging for the 2019 resident/fellow class. We will likely begin reaching out to this group in the next few months. When you work with us we always represent YOU to the prospect and we do it all, list management, writing the emails and subject lines for 1 email per month, managing the stats, weeding out the junk replies and sending you the leads! We get you the leads in real time and then provide a comprehensive report at the end of each month. All of this for a fraction of the cost of other email and sourcing options. Just email me at to shoot me some questions or set up a call.

  • By: Allison McCarthy, MBA |

    Valentine’s Day has come and gone – but it’s message reminds us that every day is an opportunity to express appreciation and gratitude to others.

    I don’t pretend that this is either comfortable or effortless.  It’s easy to take things for granted.  Personally, I have to really work at it – so I welcome reminders like Valentine’s Day to trigger my awareness.

    Physician recruitment is such a “community” effort.  Success doesn’t come without the buy-in of others.  Reinforcing that by regularly extending our appreciation will go a long way in strengthening that support.   Here are a few ideas on how to do that.

    1. Write a note of thanks – including 2-3 examples of what that person did to make things work well. Being specific demonstrates that you understand the real value of what they did and the benefit it provided to you, the candidate and to the recruitment effort overall.
    2. After a site visit, send some cookies to the practice staff to thank them for putting their best foot forward – letting them know that they really made a difference in the candidate’s experience.
    3. Compliment a physician who does a great candidate interview and if done in front of his/her colleagues, it may encourage others to raise their skill level as well.
    4. When announcing a recruit’s offer acceptance, identify by name those that were part of the interview team and thank them for helping to make it happen.
    5. Ask participating physicians and office staff for feedback on what you could do to improve the recruitment process for them. You might get some great tips on how to better screen candidates or improve your communication with the practice team.
    6. Say thank you to anyone that says hello and smiles during the hospital or practice tour. When we’re so focused on the candidate and ensuring everything is going smoothly, it’s easy to forget that those we quickly pass-by are also helping to make it a positive experience.

    Small actions can have a big impact.  Extending our gratitude for even the little things work collectively to improve the recruitment experience and results.  Let’s remember that Valentine’s Day is not just for February 14th …… but for every day.

  • By: Jeff Cowart, MAH |

    The inflexibility and even arrogance of holding current position when evidence of threat or opportunity is substantial is perhaps the most common characteristic of failure for companies, products, leaders, causes, political candidates – or even business initiatives.

    Positioning is the concept that one’s business, or department, or product, or personal place is relative to variables in the environment. To know where we stand, we must honestly assess these variables that include economic, product, customer service, culture, ideology, and other such factors. Less enlightened leaders and individuals tend to isolate these factors from each other – create silos – and they assess position, performance and competitiveness out of context.

    Richard D’Aveni, the Bakala Professor of Strategy at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, says: “Whenever I’ve asked senior executives to map the positions of their company’s brands and those of key rivals, we end up confused and dismayed.” Donald Sull, a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, writing in Harvard Business Review in 1999, labeled the phenomenon of stuck position as “active intertia,” the “tendency to follow established patterns of behavior – even in response to dramatic environmental shifts. Stuck in the modes of thinking and working that brought success in the past, market leaders simply accelerate all their tried-and-true activities. In trying to dig themselves out of a hole, they just deepen it.”

    All of the attributes of whatever is being positioned are critically and contextually linked. These attributes in total are what strategists define as brand. A company, a department within the company, a product, a CEO, a political candidate, a person – all of these have a brand whether they know it or not. And, the failure to recognize and manage this brand as an outcome of positioning strategy is one of the most frequent roots of less-than-optimum performance or personal dissatisfaction.

    Part of the problem in understanding positioning is the introduction of the word “brand” into the discussion. “Brand” today seems to have become interchangeable with the word “marketing.” Much of this confusion is caused by advertising and marketing agencies where the sole goal is to produce and sell marked-up creative to achieve their own revenue targets. With glam and sizzle they sell advertising look and feel and clever phrases to clients that do not necessarily align with optimal strategic positioning.

    Positioning is the strategy that puts meat on the bones of brand and marketing. Positioning is built on the trinity of declared intent, message and connection. Declared intent is always filtered through an honest and thorough analysis of strategic variables and environmental scan. Only after this is nailed down can message be clearly and powerfully defined. Message and declared intent then drive the connection strategy.

    Effective and powerful brand can only be built once positioning is clearly defined and understood. Marketing and advertising then take the outcome of the positioning work and select precision-targeted channels and tactics to create audience connectivity. Positioning strategists are sometimes marketers and marketers are sometimes positioning strategists – but not often. The two disciplines are uniquely different though inextricably linked.

    Without the overlay of a strong positioning strategy, marketing and advertising activity tends to unfold in typically disjointed campaigns that may or may not enhance audience perception, achieve growth, sell product, adequately define a cause, or achieve optimal return on investment. Without active positioning strategy in place, we put the brand and marketing cart before the horse. We become the keepers of the flame of active inertia.

    The Barlow/McCarthy team specializes in helping our clients establish strong position, message and connection strategies to drive growth, develop physician practices and engagement, strengthen existing marketing programs, track outcomes, and deliver results. To find out more contact Jeff at:

  • By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA |

    Right wrong or otherwise, we all make snap judgments when we meet new people. Last week I needed help from an airline gate agent and here’s what happened:

    I approached the counter ready to beg, cajole and flaunt my frequent flyer status as I wanted to get home on an earlier flight. As I approached the counter, the gate agent looked up immediately, smiled and asked how she could help in a warm and engaging way. She listened fully to my request and then said, “Let’s see what we can do to make that happen.” The interaction was all of three minutes and yet, it left me feeling positive, I know her name and the airline earned an extra point for customer service.  While it’s not always that way for me with the airlines, this was a wonderful first impression. We only get one chance to make a first impression so it’s worth a step back to consider starting our interactions in a positive way.

    Do the Basics Well Every Time

    • Appearance: I appreciate that being comfortable matters when the days are long, but personal appearance, dress, hair, and amount of stuff you are carrying speaks volumes. Dress just a little better than the audience you are meeting and make sure the cut, style and fit are right. We want the doctor we are calling on to trust us, so the first impression must set the state for us as a trusted advisor. (Note: I am not just talking to ladies here, men this is important for you too!)
    • Friendly-forward: A genuine, warm smile takes so little effort and makes such a difference – it’s a mood changer. The smile, accompanied by a friendly expression and an extended hand when a hand shake is available.
    • Engaging confidence: Demonstrate that you are the person others like to be around. A calm and confident demeanor that says, “Your doctor will want to spend a few minutes with me.” If you’re too permissive, today’s gatekeepers will dominate. Overly confident or cocky, and the whole practice will show you the door. So, what is just right? It starts with good eye contact, a message that is well developed, and an assumptive tone that makes the recipient want to engage in conversation.

    Use Your Intuition

    Read the situation and make good decisions based on what you see and hear. There are times when you enter a practice and the signs of distraction are everywhere. Your job is to create a relationship that can engage the physician in your planned agenda. Can that happen? If there are already signs of disruption before you even connect with the doctor, then call it out and ask to return at a time that will be better for the practice.

    Likewise, if the doctor appears to be distracted, call it out right away. Refuse to bulldoze your way through just because you “got in.”

    A quick read of the prospect will also give you a sense of their interest in social connections. Some prospects like to start a conversation with topics like people in common or the weather or your observation of their kids in the photos. Find an easy line to “test” whether this is of interest, but use your intuition and don’t spend too long here and if they don’t seem to react, let it go.

    Prepare Even When You are Seasoned

    Great connections rarely just happen. A strong first impression is generally the result of good planning that includes, when you will do the visit, where you will start, what you will want to learn from each person you meet, your fallback plan if the gatekeeper has a different agenda and of course your goals for the meeting.  Make sure your preparation is about what you want to learn, not just what you want to tell them! Find a good opening approach that lets them know you’ve prepared to learn from them.

    While first impressions won’t seal the deal, in today’s competitive environment, you may not get a second chance to gain access to decision makers or to have a good dialogue. You only get one chance to make a first impression. This week, think about how you are perceived and fine-tune that approach.

  • By: Jeff Cowart, MAH |

    The beginning of a new year, the launch of a new goal, a significant change in direction – all of these are opportunities for reflection on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Usually, this reflection is accompanied by resolutions, declarations of new direction, and a burst of new energy.

    Too often, however, this process quickly devolves into disruption at the hands of the mundane, the heavy tug of the status quo, and the loss of traction toward our new goals. Then the malaise and disappointment of failure starts to hover and nag.

    Why is this cycle so familiar? The truth is, the cycle has nothing to do with our good intentions nor our self-worth. More often, it relates to the artificiality of the catalyst that prompted us to make the resolutions or the declarations in the first place.

    True change is not driven by something framed up as a resolution just because the calendar happens to be about to roll over to a new year. To be successful, change must be rooted in pragmatic deliberation, intent that is driven by longer-term strategic vision, and commitment that can be sustained beyond the constructs of cultural moments or pressures of perception.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with using year-end or other circumstances to spark reflection on the need for true change.

    As John Kotter, one of the most thoughtful leaders in achieving positive change, writes: “the problem is complacency. With complacency, no matter what people say, if you look at what they do, it is clear that they are mostly content with the status quo.” He also faults false urgency where there is “lots of energy around activity that is less focused on winning and more driven by pressure that creates anxiety and even anger.” Kotter concludes that only “true urgency is driven by a deep determination to win, not anxiety about losing.”

    So, the individual who wants to create true change – personally or organizationally – must set goals that are grounded by a deep determination to advance. Moments in time, reflection, a crisis, or anything can serve as a catalyst for true change as long as the action moves beyond the catalyst itself and into the realm of sustained achievement, built on a foundation of resolve rather than the anxiety of losing.

  • By: Allison McCarthy, MBA |

    I’ve been a fan of Bravo Network’s Inside the Actors Studio for some time. This Emmy nominated show is a course at the Actors Studio Drama School of Pace University. Hosted by James Lipton, each episode features a different actor, actress, director or cast being interviewed about their craft and sharing insights with an audience of master degree students.

    Interviewees are a cross section of men, women, well known and not, seasoned and new, drama versus comedy, theater, big screen and/or television, etc. Mr. Lipton takes everyone through their early years – and what initially influenced their craft. From there he explores each guest’s various projects inquiring about their reasons for choosing the engagement, how they prepared for the project and what they learned from it. Each story is both interesting and entertaining.

    Experts have long suggested that we can learn just as much from those outside our profession as within it. And I must say that I learn something from nearly every episode. Here are a few recent takeaways worth pondering.

    • Paul Newman“Everyone has talent but what you need is character. And I think tenaciousness is the single most important character trait. I’ve seen people with talent who simply think that’s enough. It needs to be combined with fierce determination to build it to optimum excellence.”
    • Alan Alda“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person – to really let them in and influence your response.”
    • Helen Hunt“I’m ok with losing a part if I do everything I can to get it. If I don’t do my all then I’m tortured. I’m always taking a class when I can or hiring a coach for voice, dance or a specific part. I write lots of notes in my scripts as reminders. It doesn’t all come naturally.”
    • Richard Dreyfuss“If I’m playing a character that I don’t necessarily like, as long as I can understand him and empathize with him I’m ok.”
    • Barbra Streisand“It’s not enough to have a preconception. You must look around and see what the reality is – what you can capture for real.  There isn’t unlimited money – there are boundaries. I love that challenge and required discipline.”  

    What lessons have you learned from those outside your profession?

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