In June, the MGMA-ACMPE released the results of a questionnaire that ranked members' most pressing practice management challenges. In this edition of "Practice Makes Perfect," we'll tackle No. 10 on that list: recruiting physicians.
I often work with medical practices about to embark upon the physician recruiting process and hear: "Help! How will we ever locate the best candidate for the job, and how do we compete with all the other opportunities they might have?"
With the ongoing shortage of physicians and budding interest among many of them in employment, my assumption is that recruiting physicians for your practice is not getting any easier these days. You've read about why that might be. The environment for recruiting physicians continues to be highly competitive. Physicians directly out of residency are hearing about the complexities of running a medical practice, and rather than take on this task, they are exploring employment opportunities. Or, your particular specialty may already have a shortage of practicing physicians, so those who are new to the market have opportunities galore.
Physicians now have their pick of compensation plans, practice locations, benefits and other important factors that weigh heavily when they determine where to practice medicine. So how do you set yourself apart when recruiting new physicians?
1. Plan early—I mean really early. Back in the day, it may have only taken a year to recruit a physician, but that's no longer the case. It's necessary now to plan at least two to three years in advance. So if you anticipate adding physicians to your team or know someone on staff who plans to retire in the next few years, it's best to begin your recruiting process early.
2. Understand the market nationally and locally. You need to know what other offers might look like, how much doctors are being compensated, whether a sign-on bonus might be necessary, which benefits are most desirable and whether you need to offer a relocation package, to name just a few factors to consider. Your practice won't be able to compete if you don't know what your competitors are offering.
3. Consider how you recruit new physicians. Use the standard sources to identify prospects. Journal ads and website postings still work. But don't forget about social media—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Google+. This is a new world, and trying to find candidates the old-fashioned way may not work anymore. Don't forget that your physicians are critical to the success of this effort. They must be part of the process. Networking with their colleagues, medical schools, residencies and medical societies can turn up a broad range of candidates.
1. Set your group apart by meticulously planning every detail of the recruiting effort. Once you've indentified a candidate, make sure your follow-up is timely. The site visit and interview process should be scripted. It is critical that you sell your practice and opportunity to the candidate as much as you expect them to sell themselves to you.
2. Listen for what's important to the applicant and his/her significant other and family. This is a critical step. If you can address the physician's questions or concerns up front and understand what's important to this person, your chance of success increases substantially.
3. Thank the candidate for his/her time. You may expect the candidate to be appreciative and send a thank-you note after his or her visit. Have you ever sent a thank-you note to the physician and family? In a recent search effort I worked on, the group did just that, and the impact was overwhelmingly positive, and almost single-handedly closed the deal.
1. Take some time to develop a detailed on-boarding plan for the new physician.
2. Provide ongoing positive feedback to the physician and be sure to let him/her know how things are going. Solicit his/her feedback as well.
3. Bring the physician and family into the community. Make them feel comfortable in the group and the community at large.
Recruiting a new physician for your practice is a long process. But if you handle it thoughtfully on the front end, you'll be more likely to engage and hire a physician who fits well in your practice and in the larger community the first time around.
MGMA Health Care Consulting Group