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What will transform the in-house staff physician recruitment industry? - Spring 2018

By Julie Phelan, MD, MBA, President, Biomedisys Inc.


Recent publications have reported that pertinent topics in the inhouse staff physician recruitment industry include physician burnout and shortages.1,2 Three members of the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR) were asked about transforming the industry. To help hone the discussion and to determine the most relevant or common themes, they answered three questions: How would you transform your work setting or make it easier, what is your perfect/ideal work setting, and why is what you do meaningful?

Defining the industry

Given that most in-house staff physician recruitment professionals have their own department, i.e., separate from human resources — but work to fill gaps in needs for providers — human resource professionals and chief executives do not understand precisely what in-house staff physician recruitment professionals do, but they do know that the role is necessary. Amy-Catherine McEwan, FASPR, physician recruiter at Meritus Health, Hagerstown, MD, indicated that defining the industry “would make her job easier.” To express her commitment to her career, McEwan recently earned an ASPR fellowship certification, FASPR, and believes it has helped to address this gap, as it proves that she “has been recognized by [her] industry and that [she] know[s] the science and method to physician recruiting,” as well as “indicates to C-suite and others that [she takes] what [she does] seriously.” The certification also provides a sense of pride in what she does: after earning her certification, she had her door sign updated with “FASPR,” so administrators, providers, and hospital personnel can see that she has the qualifications and training to perform her job.

ASPR is a place where members speak the same language — members know and understand the field, can share stories, and advocate for one another, according to Frank Gallagher, ASPR president and director of provider recruitment at New Jersey-based AtlantiCare. In-house staff physician recruitment professionals can demonstrate to those outside the field what the role entails, including new physicians and advanced practice professionals who may not know what an in-house staff physician recruitment professional does or can do for them.

Ensuring cohesiveness between key stakeholders and physicians

Jill Little, FASPR, regional director of physician recruitment at Detroit Medical Center, Southfield, MI, indicated that, ideally, increasing the level of cohesiveness between all key stakeholders and physicians regarding open opportunities would help to satisfy the market. As for transforming, restoring a staffing model for physician recruitment would increase effectiveness and the ability to provide more educational opportunities to providers.

Good hiring teams

Gallagher indicated that for a provider to join an organization, the in-house staff physician recruitment professional ensures that a candidate sees the collectiveness and touchpoints of an organization, so the provider would want to join an organization. Throughout these touchpoints, the in-house staff physician recruitment professional ensures that the provider has a first-class experience that is vital given doctor shortages and supply-demand issues. Gallagher further explained that “no one joins because of [him] or the team but because of the relationship and who they meet during visits.” McEwan discussed how she tries to introduce candidates to staff and providers in all departments, from a friendly and welcoming cafeteria cashier, who asks candidates what their specialty is and takes a real interest in their background, to environmental services personnel, operating room staff, etc. Whenever McEwan walks a candidate around — a person wearing a suit — hospital staff, providers and administrators know that she will approach them to introduce the candidate. These details demonstrate to candidates how welcoming the organization is.

Strategic planning

Another consideration is strategic planning to fill a need in a community. McEwan stated that strategic planning, e.g., 18 months in advance of knowing when a coverage gap will need to be filled, helps to focus on areas that need to be hired over that time. Such is the challenge of the primary care shortage. This approach allows for targeting to fill a future need versus being reactionary to fill a need in real time: proactive versus reactive.

Ideal work setting?

Gallagher mentioned a supportive setting for in-house staff physician recruitment professionals; leadership that understands macro issues, such as the physician shortage; and leadership that understands that each provider who joins the organization has unique individual interests. Typically, it helps to capitalize on these individual interests.

Why is the role important?

In-house staff physician recruitment professionals have a unique opportunity to impact and enhance the local community, according to Little. Little further explained that she can increase the level of healthcare quality and is able to meet quality metric requirements in the community in which she lives and provides support. Increasing access, the level of care, and the quality of services provided, as well as the ability to meet healthcare needs within the local community are why the role is essential.

Gallagher explained that “each time [he] meets a provider candidate, [he asks] is this someone [he] would send family members to?” Further, the in-house staff physician recruitment professional determines coverage gaps in medical and healthcare needs in the local community, so neighbors do not have to travel long distances for certain medical needs. Whenever Gallagher runs into a recently hired provider, he hears firsthand how the new hire is enjoying the work and community, how the new provider’s family is enjoying the area, and how the provider and her family are fitting into the area. Other times, Gallagher hears a patient story on how a new provider saved a life. The in-house staff physician recruitment professional has a different level of communication in terms of satisfying the market. These opportunities provide an excellent chance to work with leadership to grow service lines and to establish new service lines.


According to Gallagher, ASPR will continue to focus on getting in front of and advocating for in-house staff physician recruitment professionals, so the profession remains visible to decision makers within healthcare recruitment. As a team-based approach is not always possible and most or all physician and advanced practice provider recruitment responsibilities are performed on an individual basis, i.e., the ASPR member, ASPR will continue to collaborate with respective leadership and organizations to enhance awareness.


1. Allar D. Investing in physician well-being pays off, reduces burnout by 20%. Cardiovascular Business. Available at: http://www. investing-physician-well-being-pays. Published September 27, 2017. Accessed January 21, 2018.

2. Shanafelt T, Goh J, Sinsky C. The business case for investing in physician well-being. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(12):1826-1832.

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