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At home in your community: Better recruiting through better community tours - Spring 2015
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By Martin Machtan, Broker, Renew Realty and Marci Jackson, Physician Recruitment Manager, Marshfield Clinic

We all know the importance of a great professional fit for our physician candidates. These candidates need to know that the core job functions within their department. Our clinics and hospitals provide a great practice environment for incoming physicians. But what about life outside of work? We have materially improved our recruitment efforts by doing our best to answer that lifestyle/community question through outstanding community tours.

Our experience shows that the most important component in an outstanding community tour is making people feel at home. At Marshfield Clinic, we deliver this feeling by the age-old concept of hospitality. We don’t see this concept as the modern version of a false smile and a warm cookie when you check into a hotel. Rather, we believe it to be the ancient and fundamental practice of taking responsibility for the wellbeing of our guests and making them feel wholly comfortable.

We believe that many different people could provide honest, robust, and positive information about the communities in which our physicians practice, as well as the high level of hospitality described above. As you are aware, in-house physician recruitment professionals wear many different hats, and may already be stretched to the limit. It is wonderful to have physicians at our institutions provide tours and hospitality, but that seems to be a rarity. What works for us is a strong relationship between a great physician recruitment department and an outstanding real estate broker.

Real estate brokers can be a great resource because first, they generally have intimate knowledge of the community. Secondly, brokers are usually very positive. Last but not least, brokers often have the time to provide a good service; and can provide the services at no cost to the clinic or hospital. Nonetheless, we believe it takes a very particular kind of broker to do this work well.

What brokers should you avoid? The kind of brokers that do not work well for making people feel at home are those who are solely focused on the big sale and on the housing market. At the time of the first interview, most physician candidates do not even know if the position is a good fit, so why show them million dollar homes? What is more, many of our physician candidates are just coming out of residency or fellowship, and may want to rent. It may seem paradoxical, but the real estate professionals to avoid are those who are fixated on selling homes. The focus should be on selling the community and the health care organization- not houses.

Your goal should be to work with someone who is polished, cultured and committed to hospitality.

We that feel our improved results have come from asking what a candidate and his/ her family wants, and really listening to the answer. Coupled with that, is our fundamental emphasis on making people feel at home. Our communities are small, rural places. Though we may lack certain urban amenities, we are always happy to point out that there is much more to our communities than meets the eye. Since we have small populations and are far from urban centers, we have all the more reason to show our polish and cultural currency. Physician candidates come from all over the world, and have many different backgrounds; therefore, it is critical that your broker find something from a lifestyle and community perspective that candidates can connect with.

As an example, physician candidates, by definition, must have an English language proficiency, even if their family members do not. As such, one of our brokers speaks Spanish well and the wife of another speaks fluent Mandarin. We also have access to speakers of Arabic, Polish, Farsi and other foreign languages. It is incredible how much more positive a community looks when a spouse, for example, realizes that he has someone with whom he can communicate when the big move happens.

There was one instance when one of our candidates had trouble finding restaurant food on a Sunday that met his family’s dietary needs. That evening, our broker cooked a Halal meal for the candidate and his family. Now, we are working on bringing Halal meat to Marshfield. Meeting dietary requirements is elemental to any concept of hospitality, and makes our small communities all the more attractive for physicians and their families.

The teenage daughter of one of our cardiovascular surgical candidates was having a very hard time imagining herself moving from an area with lots of urban amenities to the middle of central Wisconsin. After some probing, we learned that she had a profound love of animals, especially horses. That community tour consisted of our brokers spending three hours introducing the family to local cats, dogs, peacocks, goats, llamas and horses. The focus was much less about the community, and much more about addressing the love of animals the teenager had. This may sound overly saccharine, but it gave the surgeon and his physician wife an outstanding perception of our community and our clinic. What is more, a young woman who had once been deeply unhappy turned into a Marshfield Clinic promoter!

One of our proudest successes has been recruiting an outstanding hematology-oncology candidate who moved his mother, father and aunt from war-torn Syria. We made sure he and his family had a home-cooked Syrian meal, complete with freshly-baked pita, labneh, fattoush, tabouli and homemade baklava.

To us, there is no greater honor than making people feel at home in our community. Making sure a candidate knows that she will have resources, warmth, connection and friendship, if she chooses to accept our position, makes all the difference.

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