How Candidate Parameters can Affect your Physician Search

How well do you implement your recruitment initiatives? There are a myriad of factors that can affect the success of your physician recruiting efforts. How can your candidate parameters make or break your physician search?

As the healthcare industry goes through ever-changing trends, certain predetermined mindsets continue to linger, particularly to in-house recruiters. Facilities which implement exclusionary candidate parameters—from medical training, practice certifications, malpractice and exclusive personal preferences—are a collective challenge for many physician recruiters.

Restrictive candidate parameters can only worsen the difficulty of physician searches, and this can be particularly demonstrated in today’s shifting physician demographics. In 2008, at least 45% of US physicians (954,224) and 44% of male physicians (from 677,807) comprise doctors of diverse racial and social backgrounds. Likewise, at least 56% of women physicians are under the age of 44 (from a population of 256,257 in 2006).   They are also more likely to emphasize work-life balance, an important factor for many healthcare facilities with sizeable call coverage requirements.

Healthcare administrators, CEOs and leaders must acknowledge these changes, and those who do not are more likely to prolong, if not fail, their physician searches. By numbers alone, exclusionary parameters reduce their candidate pipeline by more than 50% even before a physician search begins.

Given the tight competition in the industry, healthcare organizations and facilities should focus on setting realistic candidate parameters that go beyond those of appearance. For instance, IMGs, which make up at least 25% of the total physician workforce (and 28% among residents)  fill the gap in servicing patients in communities that most need it, as well as signing up to specialties that USMGs are more likely to avoid, such as primary care (a third of primary and critical care physicians are IMGs), one of the many specialties with a critical physician shortage.

Administrators, CEOs and facility leaders should pave the way for a proactive approach in setting candidate parameters in context to the needs of the community, medical staff plan and growth strategies. You may have great opportunities, but having unrealistic parameters can diminish the potential of finding your physician. Hospital leaders should be open-minded and objective. For instance, older physicians are still an integral part of the workforce, where at least 50% of doctors in Internal Medicine and 55% in Family Practice are ages 46 or older, and approximately 50% of psychiatrists are age 56 or older.

Healthcare facility leaders should focus on how the physician can help the facility with its alignment goals and overall competence in terms of servicing the patients. Here are some pointers to consider when setting up candidate parameters that can make a difference when recruiting physicians:

Competence. Medical expertise is a significant aspect when hiring physicians, so healthcare groups must highly consider how their candidates fit into the practice opportunity and ensure that physician candidates do not have gaps in training and are certified in their respective specialties. For instance, older doctors have the benefit of experience, provided that they are constantly keeping up with new advancements.

Communication skills. When finding your physicians, communication skills are paramount. It helps build rapport with patients and empower them with confidence and competence. While anecdotal data suggests that patients may not go to IMGs because of cultural, language and communication barriers, it can also be said of USMGs. In fact, the American Medical Association has cited IMGs as a valuable workforce in servicing highly multi-cultural communities, and are likely to be more sensitive to cross-cultural issues among patients and colleagues. This is particularly true to specialties like psychiatry and obstetrics-gynecology in Michigan and Midwestern states.

Geographic and personal preferences. Statistical data from Pinnacle Health Group reveals that residents receive at least 10 to 15 job offers from facilities as early as their second year, while actively practicing physicians are given at least six solicitations. The industry is highly competitive, and doctors today have the freedom to choose where they want to practice. Healthcare facilities should recruit physicians who are keen and predisposed to come and practice in their communities. This can be further narrowed down by the personal, lifestyle or geographic preferences among doctors.

Proactive. When recruiting physicians for your facility, a proactive, a service-oriented doctor who is eager to be a part of the community and is committed to his or her patients, can help the facility with its patient satisfaction, quality of care and overall growth in today’s dynamic healthcare market. Make sure that you have thoroughly assessed how these qualities are demonstrated by your candidates.

Before implementing your staffing or recruitment initiatives, you must be able to answer these questions and more. It is important to clearly define your goals. Before implementing a recruiting strategy, healthcare organizations should be able to clearly define their goals and how their physicians fit into them, such as particular skills and qualifications, if malpractice is an issue, or how willing these physicians are to work for your facility.

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