Earning the Designation of Diplomate
By Colleen M. Munkel, MA, DASPR, Physician Recruiter, Hattiesburg Clinic, Hattiesburg, MS
On Saturday, August 11, I was up at 5:30 in the morning in my room at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles, preparing for the Physician Recruitment 201 Module of the ASPR Fellowship Certification program being offered as a part of the annual conference. I had completed the 101 module and exam online. I’m not normally up that early on a Saturday, but I was eager to meet new colleagues and take notes on the six topics of importance that the 201 module covers. After grabbing some breakfast, it wasn’t long before I met Miranda Grace, co-editor of the Journal of ASPR. We wound up spending the day together, attending the presentations, and getting to know one another.
It is the ASPR Fellowship Committee that establishes the material covered in all three of the organization’s educational modules, not to mention writing the subsequent test questions. Marci Jackson, manager of physician recruitment for the Marshfield Clinic, in Marshfield, WI, co-chairs the Fellowship Committee. She says the 201 module is geared to in-house physician recruiters who have an experience level of about a year or longer in the field. Jackson notes the 201 module, “Is about the art, rather than the science,” of physician recruitment.
That statement rings true when it comes to making and closing an offer of employment, onboarding new physicians, and working to ensure they remain committed to your organization. No explicit set of directions can guarantee those goals are met every time, with every physician. However, what the 201 module does is provide attendees with tried and true best practices that have proven successful. The course also covers essential legalese recruiters need to be aware of when it comes to compensation and incentive plans, tax issues associated with relocation policies, and other “must know” items in a physician recruiter’s repertoire. As Jackson explained, the 201 module, like the other modules in the ASPR Fellowship Certification Program, is constantly evolving with new information that instructors have learned over the years.
In fact, the 201 module has undergone some changes in 2012, with the addition of an onboarding component presented by Donna Ecclestone, associate director of physician integration and onboarding at Duke Medicine. Ecclestone also is the ASPR Board of Directors’ liaison to the Fellowship Committee. Ecclestone said the onboarding portion “Was created with input from fellow ASPR members who have implemented onboarding programs at their own institutions.”
Other topics included in the 201 module, along with compensation plans, relocation policies and onboarding, are sections on advanced provider recruitment, selling and closing an offer, and physician retention.
Ann Homola, director of provider recruitment and retention at Eastern Maine Medical Center, is another member of the Fellowship Committee. She explained that the 201 module, “Begins to cover some topics at a higher level. Even if you do not currently have certain responsibilities in your job, healthcare is always changing and you might have them added to your job description in the future.”
Additionally, the skills gained through the 201 module can help recruiters advance professionally within their own organization and in the future. As Jackson explained, “We found through the ASPR benchmarking survey, a certification gives you more credibility in your organization.” She added, “I think it helps you boost the professional nature of your position with the C-Suite.”
I have found in my professional experience that expanding your knowledge base helps you approach each workday with renewed enthusiasm. According to Ecclestone, “Knowledge is power. I highly encourage everyone to take the 201 and the 301 modules and exams and ultimately become a FASPR as a professional investment.” More than 90 participants in this year’s 201 module at the annual conference is pretty consistent with attendance figures from previous ASPR conferences, according to Jackson. Often times, Jackson explained, the number of attendees in the Fellowship Certification Program is dependent upon the location of the conference and the number of new physician recruiters. I fit into that “new” physician recruiter category, having entered this rewarding field one year ago. As I study for the 201 exam, I hope to add the Diplomate designation to my signature, with the goal of achieving the Fellow certification at next year’s ASPR conference in Tucson, AZ. I think that means I’ll have to get up at 5:30 in the morning on a weekend once again. No matter! It’s a small sacrifice for a big professional accomplishment.