Social Media and Physician Recruitment: Just Scratching the Surface
By Miranda Grace, AASPR, Physician Recruiter, Lewistown Hospital, firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that…
Facebook currently has 900 million active users with more than 70 translations available on the site; Twitter has a whopping 125 million registered users, adding about 300,000 new users daily; LinkedIn has a massive 135 million members including all Fortune 500 companies; over 3 billion videos are viewed on YouTube per day, which is double the prime time audience of all three major US broadcast networks combined; and more than 133 million blogs have been indexed by Technorati since 2002? There’s bound to be some physicians out there somewhere, right?
Until recently, social media has primarily been used for personal interactions with friends and family. Now, as physician recruitment professionals, we are delving into what seems to be the largest online conversation to date. Many of us are still unsure of how to use this communal platform. However, some have used it not only to share valuable information, but to connect with and recruit physicians! Our very own social media pioneers have shared with us how they are using this tool and where they think the exchange between physician and recruiter via social media is heading.
ASPR members and social media
Jenny Truax, director of physician recruitment at Catholic Health Initiatives in Englewood, CO, just recently started her role as director, however, she has many years of experience connecting with and recruiting physicians. In her current position, Jenny has been able to successfully recruit executive level physicians from LinkedIn, which she explained, “…saved the organization quite a bit of money. I even went as far as getting quotes from retained firms!” Jenny believes that, as recruiters, we need to keep up with newer generations of candidates or we’ll most definitely fall behind. Currently, Jenny uses LinkedIn to network, source candidates, post jobs, and stay educated. “Another thing that I do with both LinkedIn and Facebook is ‘follow’ or ‘like’ other healthcare organizations. I think this helps me keep up with trends and learn what other organizations are doing for physician recruitment. In a nutshell, social media is another way for recruiters to stay current with the industry as it continues to evolve.” Jenny ultimately advises, “The more you build your network, the better it works for you.”
Kim Dianich, physician recruiter for PeaceHealth Medical Group in Bellingham, WA, and former recruiter for Guthrie Health, says that she too has successfully recruited physicians using social media. How did she do this? “By appealing to their personal interests and keeping in touch with them. I posted things that I did in the community and events that were going on that might interest them...with photos. I would write about things happening at our hospitals and clinics. Over time, younger physicians who weren’t satisfied at their first job out of residency would think of Guthrie and a few even joined,” Kim explained, “A lot of people said recruiting from Facebook couldn’t be done...” Kim proves that it can.
A new and exciting avenue for social media engagement is Quora.com. This site allows for questions and dialogue between parties with similar interests. Angela Keen, manager of physician services at Straub Clinic and Hospital in Honolulu, HI, said, “You ask a question and experts answer…I recently engaged in several conversations with physicians who eventually became candidates, but I did not broadcast a job opening. I developed friendships and privately messaged physicians to let them know I had a position open. It takes careful communication.” As tough as this sounds, it gets even tougher. “The most important message from me personally is engage, engage, engage. That takes a lot of time, and if you have additional recruitment duties, it will definitely make your day long,” Angela advised.
For those of us who feel we simply can’t keep up with these social giants, justifying a position like Jenna Mucha’s might be the next step. Jenna is North Shore Health System’s social media specialist for employee communication and talent acquisition. She manages the content on the organization’s career and physician recruitment pages, as well as its social media Web sites, on a full-time basis. “We’re trying to create a two-way social platform to not only give information, but allow people to ask questions as well,” Jenna said, “[Social media] is so important; it’s the now of recruiting.” Jenna suggests that physician recruitment professionals have a robust LinkedIn profile that tells as much about themselves and the organization as possible. She assures us that joining the appropriate groups and contributing to discussions is key. “Don’t just be stagnant, be an ambassador and content driver. You’ll definitely get a return on your investment for the time you put in.”
As encouraging as these accounts are, many of us are not having the same success in recruiting physicians from social media outlets, and according to Steve Jacobs, FASPR, that’s OK. His approach is less recruitment oriented, but geared more toward networking and information sharing. Steve, physician recruiter at Kaweah Delta Health Care District in California, said, “[Social Media] doesn’t have to have a huge physician recruitment component because it’s still young. You’re not going to have a physician ‘like’ you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter unless you’re talking about medicine…like anything on the Internet, social media takes time to understand.” According to a survey conducted by QuantiaMD, an online learning collaboration, “87 percent of physicians make personal use of social media, but a lesser amount, 67 percent, use it professionally.” So is it worth participating? Steve argues, yes, “It’s just one more place to have a fishing pole in the water.”
Recently, while “Googling” a physician who we are considering for a urogynecology position, I came across several YouTube videos of her explaining what she does and how she helps people. “How impressive,” I thought, “What a great way to use social media to put a face to a name and see how that person presents herself.” Of course, this isn’t exclusive to the field of physician recruiting; many industries are using social media as part of their recruitment process. In fact, according to a payscale.com survey, 43 percent of employers report the use of social media for recruiting: 88 percent use LinkedIn; 46 percent use Facebook; and 22 percent use Twitter. I suppose when such a large investment is involved, it’s worth looking into.
Physicians Using Social Media
Now that we know how physician recruitment professionals can use social media, it may also help us to know how physicians are using it. Several active physician bloggers are using this medium to express their opinions and present applicable health information. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, aka Seattle Momma Doc, is a pediatrician who, according to her blog, says she’s “passionate about the way media discusses pediatric health news and influences parents’ decisions when caring for their children.” She’s appeared on such broadcasts as Good Morning America and has been quoted in articles for USA Today. Dr. Swanson discusses such issues as when it’s time to rid your child of a pacifier and what you should pack in a healthy lunch.
Other physician bloggers, such as Kevin Pho of KevinMD.com, write about current health issues that are relevant to others in the industry. Most recently, he has written on such topics as “Reducing the Emotional Impact of Medical Malpractice” and “Show Doctors the Value When it Comes to Social Media and EMRs.” Dr. Jennifer Dyer, board certified in both pediatrics and endocrinology, is also actively involved in social media. She is followed by many on Twitter (@EndoGoddess) and maintains an active YouTube channel, primarily for education and promotion of pediatric endocrinology issues and awareness. She’s an app developer and is responsible for the EndoGoddess app whose audience (patients with diabetes) is rewarded, inspired, and educated by its daily driven content. Dr. Dyer has spoken nationally on healthcare social media, most recently at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in March 2012.
Although social media allows patients and physicians to communicate easily, this is not always wanted or encouraged. We are noticing more frequently that many physicians are choosing to change their names or keep their profiles private when online, but why? Work-life balance may be a major factor. It is no surprise that the younger generations of physicians are the ones using social media the most; similarly, this same generation of providers prefer a stable work-life balance over a substantial salary. If they make themselves available 24/7 via social media, will they ever get a break? According to QuantiaMD, one-third of survey respondents reported receiving “friend requests” from patients and three-quarters of those respondents declined those requests. In addition, patients may not always show discretion when asking a physician about a personal health problem online; therefore, both patient and physician have to be very careful how and when to address personal issues. Nothing can replace the needed intimacy made available in an office exam room.
While we may only be scratching the surface of social media’s potential for physicians and physician recruitment professionals, it’s clear it’s here to stay. “Ultimately, when it’s all said and done, we will recruit that way,” said Steven Jacobs, “there’s so much opportunity and it (social media) is still growing up.”
Whether you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or LinkedIn profile, the trick is staying active and engaging with physicians… otherwise, you’ll just get left behind. Look for more articles on social media in future issues of JASPR. For questions on social media and topics you’d like to see presented, email Miranda Grace at email@example.com.
Journal of ASPR - Spring 2012