HealthDecember 06, 2019

How savvy recruiters are finding, hiring, and retaining physicians in a seller's market

Advertising jobs in healthcare? Find out what factors the medical community takes into consideration when deciding to advertise a career opportunity.

What factors does the medical community consider when deciding whether to advertise a career opportunity? What challenges do physician recruiters face when designing a campaign to attract top talent? Wolters Kluwer recently surveyed recruitment professionals concerning various issues and obstacles in physician recruitment and found that, to our surprise, cost is but one factor in the calculus of recruitment and not always the dominant concern.

You know it all too well. We're in the middle of a doctor shortage, and there's not much hope that the physician recruiting crunch will ease up any time soon. But amid all the figures, trends, and projections, recruiters and healthcare systems still have a job to do: attracting, hiring, and retaining the best possible candidates for open positions.

How is the short supply of physicians making itself felt…and how are smart recruiters positioning themselves for success, now and in an increasingly uncertain future? Here are a few things to think about and ideas for recruiters to survive and thrive in today’s “seller’s market” for physicians.

How are trends are playing out in your market?

As tight as the national landscape for recruiting doctors may seem today, all of the statistics and trends point to an even more competitive playing field in the future. A Physician Recruitment Benchmarking Report by the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR) highlights the demand for primary care practitioners­—with a particularly tight market for family physicians. In the specialties, the difficulty of recruiting psychiatrists is contributing to a "mental health crisis." Reports also suggest an insufficient surgeon workforce, worst in rural areas.

A series of recent data reports by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Health Workforce digs into the supply and demand equations for specific categories of practitioners. The data provide interesting insights into projected shortages in different categories of practitioners, as well as in regional supply and demand.

Which medical specialties will see the greatest shortages? A report on the internal medicine subspecialties projects that the demand will be highest for cardiologists, with a shortage of more than 7,000 FTEs in 2025. Other shortfalls are forecast in gastroenterology, hematology/oncology, and pulmonology.

But the projections vary substantially by region. The Northeast is likely to see surpluses in all internal medicine subspecialties, while other regions will see shortages in most categories. Other HRSA reports forecast deficits of primary care practitioners (including nurse practitioners and physician assistants) and specialist surgeons in all regions—greatest in the South.

To busy recruiters, these may seem like dry trends and projections right now. But as you plan your recruiting activities in the coming months and years, there are several ways this information might help to form your game plan and conversations. Are hospitals and practices in your market planning for the future shortfall of primary care doctors and cardiologists? What steps can you take to enhance your appeal to the small universe of surgical specialists?

Establish your identity – build your brand

Branding is an increasingly visible tool for healthcare institutions and practices seeking to stand out from the crowd. While branding is generally geared toward building confidence and trust among consumers, it plays an important role within the organization too. As one consultant says, "The brand is essential for rallying employees—particularly in times of change. It helps align clinicians, physicians and all staff with a common vision, inspiring the organization to collaborate on building a promising future."

Recruiters believe  branding is an important way of attracting candidates but lack a dedicated budget for employer branding. For potential recruits as for consumers, social media has a key role to play in keeping your institution's mission and message in front of the community. Do your best to see that recruiting has a seat at the table in discussions about marketing and branding.

All healthcare is local

Nothing is more personal than healthcare. All that big national data reflects real-world trends on the regional and local level­—in your own back yard. For example, the commentators say that some of the projected shortfalls in primary care will likely be offset by increased use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants. However, those big-picture trends are still playing out in local markets. The HRSA primary care report actually projects that supply of NPs/PAs will exceed demand, especially in the South and West.

Other trends in the healthcare system are still shaking out as well—the trend toward increased consolidation, to name one. Become familiar with your institution's strategy for value-based care, health information technology, and telehealth. Any of these (or others) can help make the case for why your institution stands out in a competitive field.

Be aware of the key trends that affect the outlook in your market and region this year and in the years ahead. You can be pretty sure that other recruiters and employers are doing their best to get an edge, too!

Contact us to develop your multichannel campaign to recruit qualified physicians.