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Strategic Physician Recruiting Calls for Forecasting, Profiling

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, April 4, 2012

In some cases, however, quantifying the need for physicians may have to extend beyond the hospital's walls and into the larger community. For example, 47-bed Columbus (NE) Community Hospital is helping group practices with their own recruiting. The joint effort has resulted in success bringing candidates to the rural area over the past two years. In total, the small rural facility has recruited 27 physicians and three midlevel providers to practice at the hospital or within the community—and all for less than $5,000 per recruit (the in-house recruiter's time plus physician sign-on bonuses for in-house recruits).

The effort is part of a larger strategy at CCH. Two years ago, the organization's president and CEO, Michael Hansen, determined with the board that it was vital to place more emphasis on physician recruiting, particularly to fill gaps in specialty areas of care. Hansen hired Amy Blaser as the vice president for physician relations and business development to handle the recruitment efforts.

"The practices feed the hospital, and that's how we get patients—they're not our competitors," notes Hansen. "We want our patients to get their care as close to home as possible. So we think it's important for the physicians to be able to refer here."

The co-recruitment effort between the practices and the hospitals is working, too. "We decided if we were going to focus on the overall physician community, we didn't just need to look at which doctors we needed to hire, but the doctors that could also be added to help the group practices. So we help them with a lot of the recruitment process, but they also put money into the game with sign-on bonuses for candidates," explains Hansen.

Since Blaser joined the hospital she has been in constant communication with local practices and finding physicians for these practices when a need arises. Both Hansen and Blaser say the co-recruitment strategy is working and helping fill gaps in care within the community.

Intentional candidate profiling

Once a hospital has established the need for a physician, the next step is not advertising the job, but rather creating a profile of the type of doctor to fill the opening, explains Roger McMahon, director of physician employment services at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, IA, and T. Clifford Deveny, MD, senior vice president of practice management of the Catholic Health Initiatives system of Englewood, CO. Mercy Medical, part of CHI, employs 330 physicians and McMahon says annually the facility has 20–22 physician opportunities. 

"You want to know the individual is going to have the right qualifications but that the personalities will also fit," says McMahon

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