Developing the Right Mix for Successful Recruitment

Author: Allison McCarthy, MBA

Originally published in the July 2003 issue of SHSMD E-CONNECT, the author updated the content in March 2009 to reflect the increasingly competitive recruitment environment.

In today’s marketplace, recruiting qualified candidates means understanding the market dynamics — by location and by specialty — as well as your preparedness for the process. Consider the following steps; they’re all equally important ingredients in creating an effective recruitment plan.

Know the Marketplace

Conduct an analysis of the marketplace for each specialty area of need. If you are recruiting a general primary care or medical/surgical specialty, use mailing list data to assess the total number of physicians available in that specialty. Then break down that number based on your search criteria and target markets. Your criteria may include:

  • Gender, nationality or other personal attributes
  • Affinity to your geographic area
  • Education and training backgrounds

If you are recruiting for a unique subspecialty, do some internet and telephone research to understand where they typically practice and how to best reach them. For example, in recruiting for a cardiac anesthesiologist, I learned there was no board certification for this specialty — it was just a special area of clinical interest within the general anesthesia ranks. Through a web search of cardiac surgery programs, I found not only where they were located but also how many typically practiced within each program and most effective options for contacting them.

Take time to also study the practice dynamics in various geographic regions. Publications such as the AMA Medical News will provide insights on regional payer challenges or cost of practice issues that may suggest discontent within those physician ranks. This could identify an unexpected but valuable group to target.

View Each Search Separately

Create an individual recruitment plan for each search — after all, your individual needs are unique, just as each candidate is unique. These plans will help to refine the search criteria and target prospect pools based on:

  • Urgency. If the group needs someone within a short time frame, you may have to prioritize local physicians already licensed to practice in that state.
  • Experience required. This determines whether you approach only physicians with a certain amount/type of experience or a less specific skill pool.
  • Geographic appeal. Target those physicians most likely to be attracted to the lifestyle offered by your area i.e. outdoor sports, cultural resources, educational opportunities, etc.
  • Support systems. Ask the group’s administration and medical staff to make recommendations. And don’t forget training program leaders, pharmaceutical and medical device representatives as well as hospital employees who may also have valuable contacts to explore.
  • Financial picture. Evaluate the recruitment resources assigned to this search versus other recruitment needs. Based on the search’s degree of challenge and level of priority for the organization, identify the most effective sourcing methods including databases, advertising, direct mail, telephone sourcing agents or search firms.

With this information in place, sourcing tactics can be prioritized based on the potential reach effectiveness and the budgeted dollars available. Additionally, strategizing the search plan will help frame the promotional messages that will best resonate with the most desirable target population.

Foster an Attractive Environment

Quality candidates will be attracted to a healthy practice environment. Take a step back and look at yours. Evaluate it for sound financial practices and position, existing demand for physicians in that specialty, strong operational support systems and a balanced call schedule. In addition, review your compensation package on a local, regional and national level — beyond the base salary — to make sure yours is competitive.

Ask for Internal Commitment

Assess what resources are needed to support the recruitment process. This is a team effort. Everyone in the group — physicians and administration included — should work in tandem to demonstrate their commitment and support of the process. This means being available for conference calls, site visits, social events, tours and administrative meetings.

Included in the physician mix should also be referral sources, call coverage partners, practice mentors and other key physicians that will help the future physician be successful. Getting them involved in the recruitment process early will help foster the long term retention of that new physician.