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A new recruiter’s first conference - Summer/Fall 2016
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By Rachel Eckstein, ASPR member, Physician Recruiter, Asante Physician Partners

Three days after being hired as a physician recruiter, my manager invited me to attend the 2016 ASPR conference in New Orleans. Before I had even stepped into my new role (first-time ever as a physician recruiter), I had a national conference on my agenda. Many different thoughts ran through my head: Will I be welcomed? What could I possibly offer? What if I don’t measure up to my new peers? And so many more. It brings me great happiness to be able to report that all my fears subsided once I arrived at the breakfast provided before my Fellowship 101 module. 

I grabbed my fruit and yogurt and turned to face the room. Fifteen tables were filling up with people, leaving me with no empty space to retreat. For a moment I felt all alone. Then it hit me. We were all physician recruiters, which meant we were friendly and outgoing people by trade. Once that thought rolled its way through my mind, making friends was a breeze. Heading towards my 101 module I had burgeoning friendships and common ground. I was ready to tackle my new career head on. 

The first event of the evening was equally jovial. The new attendee reception was a time of laughter, business card swapping and fine cheeses. After some time though, the next event was calling…the exhibit  hall was open!

I wandered among the booth-filled hall like a wide-eyed child in a candy store, but worse because I am extremely distracted by shiny things (and pretty purses) and there were said distractions at every turn. Reaching in for the color-themed M&Ms or a company-stamped Bluetooth speaker led me into unfamiliar conversations with conference sponsors. The proverbial small-talk left me shrugging my shoulders and saying “I don’t know what that means, I’m only two months old.” By all rights these interactions should have shaken my confidence, or, at the very least, left me less apt to speak up in the classes and seminars. 

It didn’t. I was too comfortable with my new peers and too encouraged by the passion that swam around me to keep quiet. I was consistently impressed by the quality of the interactions I was fortunate enough to be having with other attendees. I cannot truly hope to express how stunned I was with how generous everyone was with their time, their opinions and their advice. No question was too trivial, no comment met with mockery. I quickly learned something very important. No one had an ego. From my fellow new recruits to Laura Screeney, ASPR’s president, everyone had time to speak with me and collaborate with me. I was never told to go ask someone else or that they didn’t have time for me. I was welcomed with open arms and elation. Everyone was an open book. The vastness of the resources that suddenly seemed at my disposal was exhilarating. 

I must admit though, this collegial banter confused me. After all, we are competing for the same physicians, aren’t we? Sometimes literally. I met a friend who worked for a system exactly like mine in a community much like mine and yet, we shared our knowledge. My mind kept going to thoughts like “Is this okay? Is this normal ?” By the end of the trip I was able to answer those questions myself. Yes, that highly collaborative interaction and idea sharing was okay. No, it was not normal outside of this close-knit career. We really are a special bunch, aren’t we?  

I feel this may be an important time to insert another item I learned. Physician recruiters embody the “work hard, play hard” idiom. After speaking with some new recruiters who had shuffled over from HR-recruiting roles, I was told that physician recruiting was unlike anything else they had experienced. And they loved it! I have learned that we are a passionate bunch and I am so excited to be a part of this special and inclusive club. It quickly became evident that being a physician recruiter is a lifestyle, not a job. Our group works hard every day to do the very important and impactful work we do. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for fun. Once the seminars were over the parties began! Our conference organizers and our sponsors really spoiled us. From the first-ever 5K to the varying nighttime events and gatherings, it shows: we like to have fun. I think that balance is crucial to our success. 

Looking back, I realize how truly vital my time at the conference had been. My experiences were doubly impactful and educational. I learned not only what the schedule had implied but had my entire understanding of what it means to be a physician recruiter sculpted and built as well. I feel so honored to be able to call the people I met my peers, and I do so hope eventually you feel the same. 

See you all next year at the beach! 


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