Physician Recruitment FAQ

Recruiting physicians is big business today. Health care administrators spend much of their time and money on recruitment because the right physicians can generate major revenues, and directly affect the quality of care in a community, providing new jobs and fueling the local community.

Please click or scroll down for:
How Do I Begin Recruiting?
Who Should Do the Recruiting?
How Much Will It Cost?
Where Can I Find Candidates?
What Should I Leave with the Applicant?
How Do I Select a Physician?
How Do I Make an Offer?
Am I Done Once an Agreement is Signed?
How Can I Ensure My Physician Will Stay?

Note: Click HERE for a step-by-step Physician Recruitment Plan.

HOW DO I BEGIN RECRUITING?

Know your market:

  • Where physicians in your area have come from in the past
  • What practices are currently available in the community
  • What practice patterns are like
  • What the current specialty needs are
  • How these needs fit into the existing medical community in your area

Consider why a physician would move to your community. In most cases, the reasons are financial. However, personal factors may weigh as heavily as financial ones when a physician decides to relocate. The following is a sample of the personal and professional factors that might cause physicians to move:

  • Personal – relationship of family to the community; children’s education; recreation; general quality of life; proximity to major cities and airlines
  • Professional – community and hospital’s facilities, as a supplement to practice; availability of medical and surgical specialties in the hospital/clinic; call schedule; day-to-day management of the practice; philosophy of the practice

WHO SHOULD DO THE RECRUITING?

Responsibility for physician recruitment varies in each community.

In an area with a shortage of physicians, the entire community should be involved:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Local governmental officials
  • Local office of economic development, if there is one
  • And especially the medical community!

At your clinic or center:

  • The Executive Director, Board of Directors, and Medical Director/staff should be most involved, with one person (usually the clinic administrator) taking the lead.
  • By including this variety of people in the recruitment and interview process, a physician will get several perspectives on work and life in a particular community.

If you are recruiting from outside your area, it’s as important to recruit the family of the physician as it is to recruit the physician. An effective recruitment plan should provide information about job opportunities, schools and activities in the community to the spouse as well as to the candidate.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

The process of recruiting a physician can easily cost $50,000, but you can succeed on far less. Budgets should include funding for:

  • Long distance phone calls
  • Travel for recruiters to attend job fairs, residency programs, etc.
  • Preparation of a small exhibit for use at job fairs and conferences
  • Direct mail and postage expenses
  • Printing and design expenses
  • Advertising ($60 for a classified ad to over $3,000 for a half page ad in a national medical journal such as AAFP)
  • Travel to bring interested physicians to your site for an interview
  • Relocation expenses for the matched physician

WHERE CAN I FIND CANDIDATES?

Try these sources:

  • National Health Service Corps (NHSC)
    • Click HERE to link to the NHSC website.
  • Advertising (classified and display)
  • Executive search firms (fees range from $20,000 to $50,000)
  • Primary Care Organizations (PCOs) and State/Regional Primary Care Associations (S/RPCAs), usually no charge for their services
    • Click HERE for a list of Region VIII Recruitment resources.
    • Click HERE to visit the CHAMPS Job Opportunity Bank.
    • Contact the CHAMPS Programs & Communications Coordinator if you are interested in posting a Region VIII CHC job opening.
  • Physician lists available for purchase from various companies
  • Medical association newsletters and journals
  • State and local medical associations
  • State health and job fairs
  • Site visits to residency programs

WHAT SHOULD I LEAVE WITH THE APPLICANT?

You should leave applicants with materials that highlight your organization and community.

  • Your standard “sales package” material should include information on the health center, the chamber of commerce and the medical society.
  • Brochures, photos, and descriptions, etc., help convey this information and are often available from state and local sources.
  • When developing your own “sales package”, ask a marketing or public relations professional for creative input. This person should be an advertising professional, a local artist or writer, or a design student.
  • Remember, it’s a buyer’s market, and a physician candidate may have several other offers. Make your sales pitch stand out in his or her mind.

HOW DO I SELECT A PHYSICIAN?

  • Find out as much as you can about the “fit” before the physician candidate comes to your community:
    • How serious is the physician’s interest?
    • What do you want to know about the physician?
    • What does he/she want to know about the practice opportunity?
  • If administrators, health center personnel, or private physicians plan to interview physician candidates.
    • They should first do thorough reference checks.
    • In addition to the references provided, state and local medical records, police records, and/or credit histories can be easily obtained.
    • This preliminary step is crucial, since it could save you a costly recruitment visit, or costlier hiring error, in the long run.
  • Finally, never select a physician for your staff until his/her spouse has visited your community and talked with members of the search committee.
    • If the spouse isn’t happy, the physician won’t stay.

HOW DO I MAKE AN OFFER?

  • There is one large difference between physician recruiting and other professional recruiting: you normally don’t have the luxury of interviewing on-site with several physicians in a short period of time, and choosing from among those candidates. There are too few physicians who have too many opportunities for you to have that luxury.
  • Therefore, it is generally good judgment to accept the first physician who comes along who is a complete match for your opportunity.
    • There may not be another one in the near future, and you generally cannot take the chance that you will lose a completely qualified candidate in the hope that a better one will come along.
    • That is not to say you have to take the first candidate that comes along!
    • When that physician comes along who meets all or most of your selection criteria, and you are satisfied that this physician would be acceptable, offer a contract.
    • The offer should contain all of the ingredients you have discussed with the physician candidate during the visit.
  • Immediately following the on-site visit, a letter should be sent to the candidate and spouse thanking them for taking the time to look at your opportunity.
    • If appropriate, ask them in the letter to seriously consider accepting your offer. In addition, letters from other members of the greeting committee may be in order.
  • After extending the offer, you may be in a difficult position with respect to other candidates since you will not want to lose them if your initial offer is rejected.
    • It is therefore very important to extend your offer with a short time frame for acceptance.
    • There are no hard and fast rules in this area, since there may be quite a bit of demand for a candidate’s services, and there may be a call for reducing requirements on the candidate. However, it is in your best interest not to permit the offer to stay open too long.

AM I DONE ONCE AN AGREEMENT IS SIGNED?

No. Even after an agreement is signed, the recruitment process is far from over. When the new physician arrives, a site should ease his/her orientation through a combination of internal and external communication.

  • Internal Communication
    • Announce a physician’s arrival via word of mouth to patients in the community, an internal newsletter (if the site/practice has one), and a letter to other medical staff in the area.
  • External Communication
    • Send press releases announcing the physician’s hiring or arrival, along with photos, to the local newspaper and radio station (most new physicians and their families will enjoy the “star” treatment).
    • Host an informal reception at the site for key medical professionals and community members.

HOW CAN I ENSURE MY PHYSICIAN WILL STAY?

Your organization will spend a great deal of time, money and energy in the recruitment of a physician. It makes good sense to spend a little more effort in trying to ensure that the recruited physician stays in your community once he/she is there.

  • Some people believe that once the physician is on site that the battle is over. However, statistics show that there is a substantial amount of relocation during the first three years of a physician’s practice.
  • A high-quality orientation is exceptionally important!
    • Click HERE for tips on creating an effective orientation plan for your organization.
  • Ongoing retention strategies will help keep your staff devoted to your organization for years to come.
    • Click HERE to learn more about proven retention tactics.