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Journal of ASPR - Winter 2014

Three trends changing the face of recruitment

By Tony Stajduhar, President, Permanent Recruitment Division, Jackson & Coker, Alpharetta, GA,

From texting on your smartphone to teleconferencing an important meeting, you do your job differently today than a few years ago. With the physician shortage adding an elevated level of competition for talent in key specialties, recruiting top physicians can be an expensive and time-consuming process for healthcare administrators. Fortunately, new trends in the industry are helping reduce the costs of recruitment by enabling physician recruitment professionals to fill positions faster and more efficiently than ever before.

According to the ASPR 2013 In-house Physician Recruitment Benchmarking Report, the average search for a primary care physician takes five months. The average primary care physician bills between $2,000-$3,000 per day, so that’s a loss to a hospital or practice of well over a quarter of a million dollars for every open position. The good news is healthcare administrators are improving their return on investment by making changes in several important areas. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to success, but three new approaches may help deliver results.

Trend #1: Faster sourcing - a better way to search
Modern recruiting success demands that we be responsive to changes in the market, the way people communicate and the way people do business. That includes re-evaluating the role of direct mail.
Direct mail can cost $10,000-$15,000 per round and take an average of 30 days to reach its audience. It worked once upon a time but those days may be gone. The market—indeed, the world—has simply moved beyond "snail mail” communication. Physicians are overwhelmed with direct mail pieces. In many instances, the office manager trashes most pieces before the physician even sees them. Talk about a waste of time and money.

Technology is available that lets us communicate immediately, most anywhere around the world. The best recruiting approaches leverage this technology for electronic sourcing. Use social media - LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, text messages - to present new job opportunities immediately to thousands of physicians, and then rebroadcast the opportunity repeatedly across all social media channels. With this approach, you can have in hand some of the best responses to an ad within days of posting, and will often be able to connect with the hard-to-reach passive job seekers.
New recruitment approaches include maintaining a physician-only website and sorting and sending emails directly to the targeted physicians. Technology allows this to happen quickly and easily. Weekly group emails are also effective, along with customized email blasts and listings on the most highly visited physician job boards such as MDsearch, HealtheCareers, Boxwood, DocCafe, PracticeLink and a wide variety of independent association sites. In short, embracing every communication avenue available is the best way to get the job done.

Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn., is one hospital getting good results with electronic sourcing. "Using information technology gives us an edge over the traditional approach,” said Dot Barrow, Clinical Recruiter for the 168-bed teaching hospital. "It’s a phenomenal way to get not just high volume quickly, but high quality. It’s smart because it’s the way young residents like to communicate. Everything has to be real time; they don’t want mail. They want to find information about jobs on their mobile phones and they want it now.”

Barrow faced a big challenge recently when she was tasked with finding a Spanish-speaking psychiatrist for St. Mary’s. "I thought we would be looking for a needle in a haystack, so we signed with a new recruiting agency that relies heavily on social media and online job boards to produce highly qualified candidates. Within a few months, they found us a psychiatrist that fits our requirements. She is finishing her fellowship in June and coming to us this summer.”

Trend #2: Blending in-house with outsourced recruiting
In-house recruiters are being asked to do more with less - one of the reasons social media advertising makes sense. Another new trend involves a blended approach, where in-house recruiters utilize agencies on an as-needed basis to help with hard-to-fill searches or even to supplement overworked in-house staff.

For example, St. Mary’s need for physicians has skyrocketed over the past few years; therefore, the facility is looking to hire a full-time physician recruiter so that Barrow can focus on nurse recruiting. Meanwhile, they will continue to take a combined approach, teaming with their physician recruiting agency, especially for electronic sourcing and tough assignments.

Trend #3: Custom(er) service
Dissatisfaction with hourly billing is another reflection of how the recruitment industry has changed over the last few decades. In the 1970s and 1980s when the industry was new, hospital CEOs looked to recruitment firms who were armed with facts and figures to demonstrate how their approach was successful. Today, when hospitals or physician practices seek out a recruitment firm, it’s not facts and figures they need so much as a partner, someone who can invest time and bandwidth that they simply don’t have on their own. They don’t want someone arrogant or bossy. They want a team player who is flexible enough to work across many business models - whether it’s a full-time role or a blended, part-time arrangement. They want options.

The risks involved in any candidate search are great. The best recruiters - whether in-house or outsourced - keep a close watch on how their campaigns are working and adjust the strategy, if necessary, to deliver the right candidates to the right place. Each search is different and each location has its unique attributes. It is the recruiter’s job to capitalize on those differences in order to find the right candidate. It’s part of an intensive focus on "custom” customer service that clients demand.

Today’s challenges require new approaches
Competition for physicians will continue to intensify, especially for experienced, board-certified physicians. The bottom line is this: Yesterday’s recruitment best practices aren’t necessarily the best practices for tomorrow. Success requires testing new ways to find and engage physicians – eliminating what doesn’t work and keeping the tactics that are effective.

2013 In-house Physician Recruitment Benchmarking Report, Association of Staff Physician Recruiters


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