By Allison McCarthy, MBA
It’s often the little things that make a difference in physician recruitment. As we grow in experience, we must advance our expertise beyond the mechanics to master the strategic, creative and evaluative nuances that provide depth to our efforts.
Key areas where this advanced talent is most needed is when we: 1) define the market position for our opportunity and 2) prepare the internal stakeholders for recruitment readiness.
Nearly all geographic areas are recruiting today. Any physician just needs to decide where they want to relocate and they can find a position. So to simply position an opportunity with geography is not enough to create distinction. Whether you’re located in rural Iowa or metropolitan Chicago, the challenge is to define your unique offering from other professional and personal perspectives.
During pre-recruitment practice assessments, we must uncover those elements that can be the “tipping point” in generating prospect interest. Asking pointed questions of clinical partners, referral sources, nursing or ancillary staff, brings forward the attributes to be extended to or fulfilled through the new recruit.
- What do you hope the new physician brings to the practice in:
- Clinical skills
- Patient population served
- Interpersonal dynamics
- What do you believe the practice can provide to the new recruit in:
- Practice development support
- Referral sources
- Mentoring and growth – both in clinical and business experience
With these details, a unique practice offering can be shared. Rather than searching for any ob/gyn, you are searching for one which brings ABC attributes and will be provided with XYZ benefits. Those definitions then lead to refining the target physician population and sourcing strategy. Your messaging and strategic search approach then distinguishes you beyond common geographic distinctions.
The intention to customize in strategic thinking forces a person to go beyond vague ideas and engage in specific ways to go after a task or problem. It sharpens the mind.
How Successful People Think
As practice stakeholders interact with candidates, they continuously demonstrate the seriousness of their physician recruitment interest. While we intuitively know that we have to validate that appeal, it is not the same in the world of physicians. They come from an academic environment where the candidate is “interviewed” and “selected” for an education or training position. Their well-defined professional hierarchy has the unwritten rule of “you want a position you have to work for it and we might consider you for an opening.”
In physician recruitment, we turn that mindset on its head and ask them to behave just the opposite – to seek out candidates and sell them on the position. Unless they demonstrate a clear desire to recruit with a focused interest on the candidate, they lose prospect credibility and the potential “sale” is closed unsuccessfully.
How much effort do we invest to help practice stakeholders be prepared for that new way of thinking and operating? Do we presume that because they are well-educated professionals they will just know how to step up and make it happen? During an interview with a client physician recently, I heard, “They want me to do candidate telephone screening interviews – I don’t even know what questions to ask.”
If formal recruitment “training” with our physicians feels uncomfortable and inappropriate, consider the use other influencing tools to help reorient them, including:
- Documented guidelines with defined accountabilities and timelines for each recruitment stage; these “briefs” are reviewed in person to collaboratively confirm the agreed upon process
- Other written tools such as potential interview questions, search criteria checklists, site visit role obligations and reference check guidelines
- Sharing candidate feedback to illustrate their vital role in achieving success
- Role modeling questioning and interchange techniques to emulate how it is done comfortably and naturally
Recognize and take advantage of current work styles – building upon their strengths and comforts rather than asking that they do everything in a totally different way. The competitive race to successfully recruit physicians will require us to advance both our messaging and influencing skills. Work with existing physicians to:
- More concretely uncover practice attributes that will market differentiate the opportunity, and
- Enhance their interview performance to demonstrate the credibility of the offer to candidates
This will set us apart both in our recruitment results as well as our position as organizational expert and leader in this area.