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Successful Physician Retention Must Start During Recruitment

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, March 3, 2010

Explaining healthcare marketing to my aunt and uncle, who I visited before attending Healthcare Strategy Institute's Physician Strategies Summit in Phoenix, turned out to be a timely reminder of how marketing for hospitals truly differs from marketing for consumer products.

"It's not just about billboards and commercials, because a lot of the time people can't just go to any hospital they feel like," I told them. "It entails increasing physician referrals, attracting the best doctors to your organization, and then keeping them there."

Keeping them there, I later found out at a session on physician onboarding, begins at the earliest stages of the recruitment process—and any marketer can get involved.

Recruiting for retention is a vital strategy for any hospital—and relevant for marketers even if in your organization the marketing department doesn't have a hand in physician recruitment. One in five recruited physicians never make it in the front door because the competition never stops recruiting, Vicky Hill, director of physician support and recruitment services for Wythe County (VA) Community Hospital, told the crowd at the "Physician Onboarding" session.

There are some simple steps marketers can take to increase the success of the physician sales team, boost retention, and ultimately improve market share.

Recruit honestly
It's only natural for marketers or recruiters to want to promote their organization through rose-colored recruitment tactics, but this approach often hurts long-term retention.

"You need to present the candidate an honest, open view of the opportunity," Hill said. "Sometimes you have to share the good, the bad, and the ugly whether you want to or not."

You should provide candidates with useful information about your organization and the local area, such as economic statistics and hospital rankings and scores. They'll appreciate that your organization values honesty and, if they choose you, will be more likely to stay for the long haul.

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