As we all know, the current composition of the US population is creating some unusual dynamics in healthcare. The Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1997, have surpassed the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) as the largest age demographic in the country.1 This younger generation is at the age that they will be looking to establish a healthcare provider for their personal and family needs. Similarly, the Boomers, who are still a significant portion of the population, are retiring (physicians included—which decreases the number of practicing physicians) and will need more medical attention as they age.
As the demand for physicians is increasing, it leaves an interesting dilemma for healthcare organizations who need to replace retiring physicians or expand their services to meet needs in their community. As we continuously hear, there are just not enough doctors and the prediction is a shortage of 104,900, especially primary care physicians, by 2030.2
In a classic example of demand exceeding supply, healthcare organizations must think outside the box and be more flexible if they want to attract new physicians. We need physicians more than they need us and if you want a candidate, follow up. Do what it takes. And most of all, listen to your professional advisors.
Michelle Houchin and Shannon McKay of Adkisson Search Consultants can’t emphasize this enough. “We go through a lengthy, tedious process to thoroughly vet our candidates. By the time we submit a candidate to our client they already have good understanding the of the opportunity and the next step is for the candidate to interview. They just need to meet in person and determine if the overall culture is a good fit,” explains McKay. “However, if they are not called by one of the physicians or administration timely, the candidate will move on to another organization that shows more interest.” When recruiting, it is critical to quickly correspond, follow up and be responsive.
Stressing the importance of selling the intangibles: those things available in your area for families in terms of activities, education, cultural diversity—anything that would be appealing to a potential candidate and his or her family are things that could be highlighted.
“They want to feel wanted,” says Houchin, referring to the candidates who are potential fits for an open position. Reaching out via phone calls, texts, emails—simple communication to establish rapport and provide a warm, fuzzy feeling of belonging will do much to convince a candidate the position is one they will be happy with. Organizations must go above and beyond to get the candidate employed.
In the past year, more resources have been used to source physicians than ever—search firms, recruiters, and human resources staff are using every means available to find candidates for their clients. The simple fact is, there are fewer physicians available than opportunities. Physicians, residents and even medical school students are bombarded on a daily basis with job opportunities. It is very difficult for healthcare administrators to spend the time “courting” new physicians—they have other tasks and responsibilities on their plate.
Timing is Critical
The timing of beginning a search is critical. Once a healthcare organizations knows a physician is planning to leave the practice or they are expanding the practice, even if it’s a year or two in the future, the search should begin immediately. Internal resources may appear successful initially, but if too much time goes on and no contracts are signed, the situation gets desperate and a retained search firm, such as Adkisson Search Consultants is needed. Many times, organizations are now in a panic mode and expect candidates right away, but that is not always possible.
“Adkisson Search has a variety of resources to utilize, but most of all it takes time and dedication to find the right fit”, says McKay. “There is a process involved in matching the needs of the client with the desires of the physician. We have to contact those who might be a match—and their situation may have changed since the last time we contacted them. It literally might take months for us to work through our vetting process and get someone who we feel will fit in with our client’s needs.”
“What a client needs to understand is once a potential candidate has been submitted, they have been vetted and their needs and desires match the client’s expectations. We have verified their clinical expertise, certification, and professional background. We have talked with the physician and their significant other and learned of their values to determine if the family will be happy in the community,” adds Houchin. “We only provide a candidate to our client if we truly believe this person matches in all the significant ways that matter—that everyone will be in a position in which they are happy.”
Transparency, Communication, and Creativity
The recruiters at Adkisson Search Consultants stress the importance of communication—both with the consultants themselves as well as, and probably even more importantly, keeping in touch with the candidate. Whether the client is new or has been working with the recruiting firm for a period of time, Adkisson Search Consultants emphasizes transparency, communication and creativity when it comes to salary and benefits is the best way to keep the candidate engaged. In other words, when a candidate expresses interest, the client needs to be willing to adjust and be flexible.
Here are the suggestions that Adkisson Search Consultants emphasizes to their clients:
- Communicate – be transparent and respond immediately when either the recruiter contacts you or when you have a candidate who is interested in the position you’re offering.
- Be creative – think outside the box instead of being rigid regarding salary and benefits. Be flexible and consider what the candidate is offering and asking.
- Be patient – understand from the beginning of the process that it will take time. Finding, vetting, and preparing the perfect candidate for the position is a process.
Most importantly, it’s imperative to understand the role of the recruiter. When they present you with the candidate, they truly believe this person will be well suited for your position. It’s up to you to follow through and complete the process.
1 Pew Research Center, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/
2 Association of American Medical Colleges, https://news.aamc.org/medical-education/article/new-aamc-research-reaffirms-looming-physician-shor/