5 Best Practices for Recruiting Physicians with Retention in Mind
We are all competing for the same providers and the competition is fierce! Which is why we need to change our strategies and approach for recruiting physicians. Now is the time to focus on recruiting physicians for retention.
A complex and costly process, provider recruitment can cost organizations more than they gain if not well organized and managed.
Consider these statistics:
- The time to fill open provider positions has increased by 49%, averaging at 14.1 month
- Due to the provider shortage, salaries have steadily grown for 8+ years
- Physicians are retiring or switching organizations at higher rates than ever; medical groups see 7% turnover annually
- Only 26% of healthcare organizations have a formalized onboarding program — proven to help with long-term physician retention
5 Best Practices for Recruiting Physicians
Having spent the past 25 years focusing on physician recruitment and new provider onboarding, I have helped clients develop strategies that drive business growth and build physician loyalty. Here are my top five best practices to help you do the same.
1. Be specific. Define what you are looking for & what you are not.
The more specific you are about the opening and the candidate that you are looking for, the better your fit will be. And, most likely, the more satisfied the physician will be in their role and within your organization.
Do your due diligence by defining the:
- Clinical requirements
- Necessary expertise & experience
- Physician’s attitude, personality & practice philosophy (cultural fit)
- Personal needs and interests
Applying the 5 “W”s is a great place to begin your search launch. Sit down with the clinical hiring manager and ask Who, What, When, Where and Why. Also, complete an intake form to continue the knowledge transfer about the opening. This will be incredibly helpful when you create ads or postings. It can also help you frame the right questions to screen potential candidates and ensure a mutual fit.
2. Know what targets (numbers) you need to reach.
To ensure your success, you need to first know your program’s targets.
Some of the KPIs I often review with clients include:
- How many physicians for each specialty exist nationwide
- Where does your ideal candidate likely look for opportunities
- How many leads does it take to generate a candidate
- What percentage of candidates screened convert to a site visit
- How many touches does it take to successfully transition candidates to the next stage in the recruitment process
- How many days does it take to fill an open opportunity; does this vary based on specialty, location or recruiter
Without knowing these numbers, it is hard to properly set expectations or deploy the right sourcing strategy to get the optimal number of candidates in your pipeline.
Another tip to raise your sourcing strategy’s success is to use the Rule of 3. Use 3 touches along 3 different channels to maximize candidate engagement. This works!
Editor’s Note: To review Mitzi’s “Job Postings that Sizzle v Fizzle” template, watch her recruitment webinar here.
3. Use interviews to set expectations & assess fit.
Start by reviewing CVs to determine an initial fit and to identify your interview questions. Key things you may want to note is whether a candidate’s expertise matches your defined needs, and if there are any concerning time intervals—i.e. multiple moves, abrupt departures or lapses in licensure.
During the initial interview, ask open-ended questions based on your research, and be mindful to really listen to the candidate’s answers. This is also an excellent time to ask about other opportunities they are pursuing so you can differentiate (1-up) your organization.
Sample Interview Questions
- What specific experience do you believe will help you in this opportunity?
- Tell me about your current practice & work schedule—i.e. number of procedures per year, call coverage, patient demographics, work team?
- How would your patients describe you? Colleagues? Hospital staff?
- What are some of your professional achievements?
- What kind of decision-making involvement would be important to you?
- Professionally what do you feel you do best? Limitations?
- What are your long-term goals?
- What do you like to do when you are not practicing medicine?
- What can I share about living in this community that would be important for you to know?
Next, use the onsite visit when recruiting physicians to set the stage for retention. Being coordinated and prepared is key. This includes inviting all key players to the table, assigning each a defined role and blocking off their schedules.
In addition to interviews and selling your opportunity, it is also important to build in a “red carpet” experience. Make sure to schedule plenty of social time so candidates, and their families, can connect with your organization and the community.
Editor’s Note: To get a free candidate interview and site visit planning guide, download Marketware’s Physician Recruitment & Retention tool kit.
4. Measure & optimize your team’s success.
Using measures to evaluate your program’s progress helps you demonstrate to leadership that you are constantly evaluating your sourcing methods and looking for new ways to find ideal candidates in a tough market. Of course, to get these measurements, you need a solid tracking system and a PRM.
Sourcing to Signature Metrics
I also encourage clients to monitor new provider satisfaction and retention, as well as key practice metrics at designated checkpoints following the new provider’s practice launch. Some of these may include 1st referrals (timing compared to outreach and totals), diversity and strength of referral connections, new versus unique patients over time and growth in attending volumes.
5. Extend onboarding well beyond 90 days.
Physician turnover rates of more than 50% within the 1st 5 years are quite common. What we’re finding through post-exit interviews is that new providers are leaving because they don’t feel connected to the community/organization or they lacked a mentor. But, you can combat this trend with a robust, long-term onboarding process.
When recruiting physicians, onboarding is not just about getting providers credentialed, giving them a badge and showing them where to park. It is about giving providers a dedicated mentor, ensuring they know what your organization has to offer and how they can connect and make referrals with colleagues. That is why many organizations are expanding their onboarding programs to include 90-day, one, 3 and 5 year check-ins.
Here are some best practices for the 90-day visit:
- Follow up with providers/clinics/referral sources within a quarter of introduction; this boosts referrals
- Send thank you notes to referring physicians for the 1st 3 to 6 months; this builds peer relationships
- Schedule a sit down meeting to discuss the practice’s success/challenges; dashboards reinforce progress & opportunities
- Check in on how new providers are adapting; this evaluates mentorships
- Get feedback from staff on new providers’ job satisfaction; this identifies problems that may lead to turnover
Success is Gained in Small Steps Well Done
Yes, recruiting physicians is an incredibly challenging endeavor. But, if you are more strategic in your approach and continually evaluate your processes, you will continue to meet your goals and keep these hard-won physicians for the long-term.