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The 2014 Physician’s Recruiting Standard

BY THE DELTA COMPANIES

In today’s abundance of one-click access to real-time tweets, instantaneous photo uploads, constant status updates, and instantly available information, most people are accustom to quick turnarounds and speedy communication. This mentality is demonstrated in the world of physician recruitment as illustrated in a recent case study published by Delta Physician Placement. The study compares recruitment outcomes of five facilities in the process of hiring one or more primary care physicians, and suggests that facilities able to make quick decisions during the recruitment process leverage their offer above competing facilities and expedite overall placement time.

A qualified physician receives multiple calls per day from recruiters and facility representatives presenting open opportunities throughout the nation that match the physician’s skill set. This influx of opportunities has resulted in a limited window of availability before a desired candidate moves on to the next option. This situation is termed a pyramid of interest, which states a physician’s interest in an opportunity is greatest within 72 hours of his or her on-site interview. According to the case study, facilities that gave an offer within this pyramid of interest had the most favorable outcome.

In Case 2 of Delta Physician Placement’s study, a facility in Western Montana was able to take advantage of this speed-tomarket mentality. Prior to interviewing any candidates for the facility’s primary care opening, the facility’s CEO prearranged a letter of intent to present to an interviewee on-site in order to aggressively pursue desirable candidates. This facility located, offered, and signed three primary care physicians within a span of two weeks.

Being prepared to act on a candidate (whether by choosing to extend an offer or realizing the candidate is not a fit and moving on) illustrates that a facility is serious about their offer and ready to incorporate a new role into their team. In this particular case, offering a letter of intent or agreement onsite demonstrated the facility’s commitment to urgency.

“Candidates tend to rethink an offer if they are not psychologically taken off the market at some point,” said Lisa Zamora, marketing principal. “People have the need to feel desired. If a candidate is everything you expected them to be in the interview, it is important to act quickly and let them know of your interest. Let them know they are desired, and how they fit into the short and long term vision of the community.”

Failing to express interest in a favored candidate is a common barrier in the recruitment process. In Case 5 of Delta Physician Placement’s study, a facility in Central Missouri lost three potential candidates by focusing their recruitment efforts on only one match. After interviewing the first of three candidate submissions for an open OB/GYN position, the facility decided not to pursue interviews with the remaining candidates and extend an offer to the first interviewee. Facility representatives in this case did a fantastic job representing the community, practice, etc. during the interview, and the CEO followed with a serious and competitive offer within days of the interview. However, the offer extension did not include a return deadline, and the candidate declined the position after two months of consideration in order to take a competing offer. During this delay, both remaining submitted candidates located other employment.

“In the best case scenario, a client should move forward with two or three viable candidates simultaneously to secure the position,” said Jim Fuller, recruiting principal. “By pursing multiple avenues, candidates realize there is serious competition around the offer. This also gives facilities more than one option to have their needs met. This scenario helps drive the decision process quickly and keeps all viable candidates in play.”

In addition to better positioning an offer toward a viable candidate, utilizing a quick and decisive recruitment process allows facilities to benefit from filling an open position faster. For every day that a position goes unfilled, facilities experience loss in revenue from the inability to schedule potential patients and face the threat of patient migration due to long wait times or overbooking. This loss can spread through an entire community. Additionally, leaving a needed position unfilled can put strain on existing staff forced to take on additional responsibilities to cover the role.

A prime example of this loss is demonstrated in Case 1 of the study. In a search for a family practice physician, a facility in Eastern Oklahoma immediately identified a favorable candidate following his interview (Dr. L). However, the facility’s CEO and board of directors did not have a set plan in place to give feedback about Dr. L’s candidacy or discuss parameters of their offer, and did not reach an agreement until two weeks after Dr. L’s on-site interview. During this time, Dr. L. interviewed and signed with another facility. The facility in Eastern Oklahoma took an additional five months to locate and sign another physician.

Due to the competitive nature of physician recruitment in today’s market, speed in the decision process is a serious advantage. Ease of communication and a high demand for physician placement, especially in primary care, has created a nationally scaled playing field for recruitment efforts. Facilities can combat this competition by preparing their decision process in advance and having a clear set of expectations and next steps in place to ensure fluidity in a physician’s candidacy.