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Navigating the Physician Shortage: Some Helpful Tips


With the continued advancement of healthcare reform, our national physician shortage is becoming more of an issue every day.  When it comes to recruiting physicians, it’s important to be able to accurately describe and understand your unique environment and selling points.  When discussing environment and culture with prospective physicians, always be truthful and don’t sugarcoat things.  The best way to do this is to paint a verbal picture of what a typical day is like and how the organization functions overall - including the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Talk to your current providers, take a survey, or find another way to collect honest feedback, but you want to know what they’re experiencing while working for you … not just what you hope or believe they’re experiencing.  While doing this, you should also identify a provider currently on your staff who could aid you in the recruitment process; someone who can answer the “physician to physician” questions the applicant will have.  By facilitating this and providing a peer resource, you show that you trust your clinical team and conduct a well-rounded interview process at the same time.

At the appropriate junctures, make sure to thoroughly describe your “selling points” to convince the physician why they should join your organization; ask probing questions to find out what they are looking for, and counter with examples of how you would be able to meet those needs.  Often times if a physician is meeting with you, they’re also meeting with other groups and are carefully guarding their time to ensure it’s only spent with those organizations that may be desirable to them.  Therefore, it is important to focus on the “hot button” topics that are potential deal breakers for the physician and to limit time spent discussing other factors.  When you hire a physician, it is just as much a personal match as it is a professional match, so it is important to find out what they are looking for in the long-term and to show them how you can help them realize that vision.

Typically, a physician’s “wish list” will include the following items:

  • Money

  • Work/Life Balance

  • Challenges & Opportunities

  • Involvement & Advancement

  • Benefits (insurance, paid time off, CME credits, etc.)

Ask the interviewing physician to rank these items from most important to least important - this will tell you what they are focusing on and help you decide where to focus your own attention during the interview process.  That doesn’t mean you should avoid the lower-ranked items, because those are still selling points, but you should hone in more deeply on the most highly ranked points.  Additionally, make sure to find out what your competitors are offering in terms of of compensation and “perks” and, if possible, what their environment is like … so that you can further explain to the physician why you believe they’d be happier in your organization.  You should never speak negatively about a competitor or be unprofessional - make sure that you use proactive statements such as, “I believe we’re the only truly physician-led practice in town, which has generated a positive response from both patients and referrals sources,” rather than statements like, “They’re more money men than doctors.”  Knowing what sets you apart from others, as well as how to properly verbalize that, will aid you in successfully recruiting physicians who will be happy, productive, and stay with you for the long haul.

Best of luck,