By Christine Hinz, Contributing Writer, JASPR Editorial Staff
Physician recruitment professionals who meet with success in their careers often display a skill set that includes well-honed instincts, good judgment and a passion for their profession. Combining these characteristics with a well-rounded education and experience, they can be well equipped for the journey to recruit the best physicians for their organizations.
On this journey from sourcing to securing the best candidates, savvy physician recruiters understand how important it is to utilize available resources. And there are many important resources along the way. Many will agree, however, that the best resource to aid in recruiting physicians is…other physicians…especially physician leaders.
There is no better way to demonstrate to candidates that they are valued by the practice or organization than when physician leaders spend quality time with them during the recruitment process, according to Marci Jackson, FASPR, physician recruitment manager for Marshfield Clinic, WI.
“The involvement of physician leaders in the process is critical to the ultimate success of each physician recruited, guiding both candidate selection and active department participation in the final recruitment decision,” Jackson said.
Jackson should know what she’s talking about when providing advice about leadership. Not only is she currently in a management position with Marshfield Clinic, but also she carries with her a wealth of experience and education. Jackson not only holds a full time career in physician recruitment, but also volunteers for ASPR. She has served numerous leadership roles over the years, including president, as well as co-chair of nearly every committee.
“You can be the best physician recruiter in the world, but if you don’t have buy-in from your physician leadership and the team who will work with the new recruits, you will be setting your new physicians up for failure,” Jackson said. She added, “You and your organization’s leadership should be preparing a recruit for long-term success.”
Lynne Peterson FASPR, director of physician and advanced provider recruitment at Fairview Health Systems, Minneapolis, MN, also supports the value of involvement from physician leadership. Peterson also has served numerous leadership positions for her employers as well as volunteer roles for ASPR for many years. Currently, she isan ASPR board member and vice president of governance. “If recruits see that you want to meet their specific needs in a job and that their search is not just another item on your plate, they’re going to be more interested and engaged,” Peterson said. She concurred with Jackson that it makes a difference when candidates see that the top docs of your organization are involved in the process. “It makes them feel more valued.”
When working with her leadership team, Peterson insists that it’s important to speak up. “I let them know, ‘These are the things that are going to be our challenges in finding a great person.’ Some of the challenges she may bring up might include issues with geographical location, the type of practice, or even the intensity of the workload. Peterson explained that it’s important not to tell leadership just what they want to hear, but to tell them the truth. “I’m honest. That’s how I learn and build trust.”
Selling the Position
Although physician leaders have a key role throughout the process, there’s perhaps no better time to make an impact than during the site visit. If physician leaders take an active role in interviewing candidates, it can be very effective. A key point, though, is that physician leaders and others involved in the interview process are appropriately prepared. This is a key role and responsibility of the physician recruitment professional.
But even if physician leaders aren’t participating in the interviews, they can set the stage by first making sure that everyone involved shares the same vision of the position.
“Searches fail when we don’t spend enough time clarifying someone’s expectations,” said Peter Angood MD, CEO and president of the American Association for Physician Leadership. He added that mixed messages and setting the wrong expectations on either side of the table can be detrimental to an organization.
“Clinicians sometimes come in thinking that they’re going to be engaged in management and leadership roles when what we’re really looking for are general clinicians. If we don’t make that clear, it can be a formula for failure,” Dr. Angood said.
Closing the Deal
With good planning and teamwork, the team will come up with the best candidate for the job. Closing the deal with that candidate can be more successful with the continuing input of physician leadership. It’s important to keep the team vested in the process beyond the interview.
Howard Graman MD, vice president of the American Group Medical Association Consulting Services also strongly supports the involvement of physician leadership in recruitment.
“There’s nothing more powerful than having a candidate meet potential colleagues who are professionally and personally satisfied with their own choices,” said Dr. Graman. He added, “You want people to have a ‘reality check’ as to what it’s like to work for the group. There are many ways that can be presented, and some people do it better than others.”
When Dr. Graman was CEO of PeaceHealth Medical Group in Vancouver, WA, one of his primary concerns was not having the kind of good information necessary to find the best candidates for his organization. As a result, he believed he and his colleagues had missed an entire recruiting season because good candidates were taking better offers.
Dr. Graman explained that he discovered problems with the recruiting structure. Although PeaceHealth’s 900-plus physicians were scattered throughout Washington, Oregon and Alaska, the recruitment function was centralized in Vancouver. He soon realized that the corporate recruiters in Vancouver were out of touch with their local resources in the communities where recruited physicians would work and call their home. They also were not identifying and working with the one of the most valuable resources…local physician leadership.
By developing a hybrid recruitment model that merged central resources with local recruiters, Dr. Graman and his colleagues were able to create recruitment strategies that matched individual communities. Some findings included the need to increase salaries, sign-bonuses and college loan repayments. Valuing the input from the local resources, especially physician leadership, enhanced their success. “If that communication is missing, you can’t change your philosophy or recruiting tactics to match.”