By Jennifer Chesak, contributing writer for the Journal of ASPR
Spouses, significant others, and family members are just as important in the recruiting process as the provider
Finding the right candidate to fill a provider position is only half the battle for physician recruiters. Part of the role involves recruiting the provider’s significant other and family members and lending a hand for them to get settled and assimilated into a new community if they’re relocating.
“We’ve found that if the significant other isn’t happy in the community,” says Amanda Litzinger, Northwest Staff Physician Recruiters vice president, “the physician won’t stay. They leave pretty quickly.” Litzinger, a member of the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters, works at Providence St. Joseph Health in Everett, Wash. She’s recruited providers for both large and small communities, and her tried-and-true approach for winning over a candidate’s partner and family begins before the first interview and lasts well into the physician’s first year on the job.
1. Prepare and send information packets
First, Litzinger puts together an information packet for the provider and family and sends it prior to interviews. ”It includes not just information about the hospital and the medical group,” she says, “but also resources in the community or events.” She gets most of her information from the chamber of commerce in the town she’s recruiting for, but she also subscribes to city email lists so that she can stay informed of activities or events that crop up.
2. Gather information about the family
Those early phone calls and emails when scheduling interviews with a provider present not only a chance for sharing additional material about the community but also an important information-gathering opportunity. “I try to remember to save every detail that they share with me,” Litzinger says. She provides the example of a physician whose daughter played the violin in her school’s symphony and wanted to continue her musical pursuits. Litzinger gathered as much information as she could about children’s symphonies in the area and sent it to the candidate. “I want them to know that I want to help bring you in to feel really welcome and make sure that your children have the same, if not more, opportunity when they move here,” she says.
3. Help the spouse or partner with job prospects
That same mantra applies to the physician’s spouse or significant other. If he or she is looking for a job, Litzinger does what she can to make the search easier. “I think it’s really important,” she says, “even though we’re physician recruiters and it might be outside of our day-to-day scope to help someone who is not a provider.” Litzinger reaches out to her own professional networks or connects individuals with the hospital’s talent acquisition team, especially if they have a connection to healthcare. She’s even gone above and beyond and reviewed the occasional résumé or CV. “I want to be of help to them and let them know that we really value both of them coming into the community,” she notes.
4. Connect the candidate and spouse with community resources
The first meetings with a candidate are crucial for making sure his or her partner is satisfied with a possible relocation. “It’s essential for the family members or the significant other to come to that first interview,” Litzinger says. She connects them with a real estate agent in the area who will give the couple a community tour based on a family’s needs. The agent typically doesn’t show homes at that time, but instead offers pointers on neighborhoods and schools if necessary.
5. Help create a support network
Community assimilation involves so much more than just finding the right job or place to live. Gaining a support system is just as important. That’s why Litzinger encourages significant others to join interview dinners. “We’ll have all of our physicians who are also attending the dinner bring their significant others, so it sort of invites them into the community,” she explains.
An initial dinner meet-up offers a way for provider families to get to know each other, but Litzinger and her colleagues don’t stop there when it comes to fostering community. Providence St. Joseph Health is rolling out a social network for its providers to share information, events, outings and more. “It’s a place for them to say something like, ‘Hey, we’re all going to do this run together. Anyone else want to join?’” she explains. Initially, the network will be for providers only, but Litzinger says they are brainstorming ways to include significant others. “We’re getting creative in how we keep everyone connected.”
6. Follow up
Litzinger’s final step with each hired provider is an important follow-up process to make sure everything is going well at work and with the family settling into the community. She typically reaches out with a survey 30 days after the provider has been onboarded and then again at 90 days. She does a less formal check-in at the six-month mark. “Sometimes you might be able to prevent future issues from building up,” she says. The follow-up process also provides Litzinger with helpful feedback about the onboarding process so that she and her colleagues can continually improve it for future hires and their families.