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How to Woo Physicians (to Your Practice)

It’s February, which means Valentine’s Day is on the way.  Inevitably, we start thinking about how to impress our significant others.  Will it be jewelry, a fancy dinner, maybe something homemade and from the heart?  Now think back even further to your first Valentine’s date - remember how important it was to make a good impression?  Would you expect a 2nd date if your first was McDonald’s and a matinee?  Probably not … and this is where we make the jump to physician recruiting.  Would you expect to recruit a great physician with a below-average salary, no benefits, and a grueling schedule?  

It’s no secret that physicians are in high demand and when they enter the job market, they have an almost endless number of options.  Just like that time you got all gussied up to make a great first impression on your Valentine’s Day date, you now need to gussy up your job offer to attract the best physicians to your practice.  

There are many ways you can make your opportunity appealing to quality physicians, but we’re going to highlight the Top 3:

  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Schedule

Compensation

We’ve seen it time and time again.  A client comes to us with a physician opportunity and, right away, we have to break the bad news that their offer is not competitive.  There are certainly other factors that physicians consider when choosing a job, but compensation is often the first qualifier.  If the compensation is low, you will not have many applicants because, at the end of the day, we’re all working for a living.  Think of the compensation package as your first impression - you want to present yourself in the best light possible, so that you can show off everything else that makes you (your practice) so great.  

Also remember that you’re not only competing against other physician-owned practices, but that there are many academic institutions and hospitals vying for the same candidates.  The following graphs come from the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters’ 2014 Physician Compensation, Benefits & Recruitment Incentives Report and illustrates the compensation and bonus structure offered by different practice ownerships.

As you can see, universities and hospitals are largely focused on providing base salaries while physician-owned practices are using a per patient or percentage of revenue structure.  Those compensation structures can be confusing and seem vague when compared to a base salary.  

The good news is, you can see from the second graph that physician practices are competitive when it comes to bonuses.  It’s important to not only highlight bonuses, but to be extremely clear and upfront as to how they are measured.

Benefits

Benefits can make or break an opportunity.  Most employees expect, at minimum, directly-provided health insurance or a stipend for it, as well as paid time off.  Physicians will not only expect health insurance and paid time off, but will also expect malpractice coverage and CME benefits.  Without a great benefits package, your opportunity becomes less competitive and ensures that you are missing out on the top tier of physician candidates.  Your benefits package is kind of like the conversation on that Valentine’s date.  You made that great first impression with your compensation package and now it’s time to reveal all the other great things you have to offer.  You’ve got funny jokes, interesting stories about travel, and great taste in music.  You’re really starting to look like the full package!

Again, though, as illustrated by these tables, you’re competing against hospitals and academic institutions who generally have better benefits packages.

Schedule

Well, we’re two-thirds of the way through the date and things are going great.  Now to get down to the nitty-gritty.  The schedule is one of those things that’s tough to negotiate but is also an area where physician-owned practices can attract great candidates.  While compensation and benefits are very important, there is also a pool of candidates out there who value work/life balance more than money.  For those physicians, time with family, travel, or continued education means they need a flexible schedule and are willing to sacrifice other things for it.

This point is further illustrated by the table below.  Not only can physician-owned practices offer a more flexible schedule, but they tend to do a better job with keeping administrative time to a minimum, as well.

 


Well, there you have it!  That’s our basic guide to wooing a great physician.  Obviously, it’s tough to offer everything we’ve mentioned, but it helps to know what you’re competing against and where you could stand to make a few changes.  Quality physicians are hard to come by, so make sure you’re putting your best foot forward when creating your compensation package, benefits, and schedule.  If you play your cards right, you’ll create a lasting relationship for years to come.