Building an Effective Search Committee for Physician Leadership Recruitment

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Recruiting a physician leader to a healthcare organization or academic medical center is often fraught with a slow and inefficient recruitment process. When coupled with the worsening physician shortage— between 42,600 and 121,300 by 2032 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)—losing quality candidates is a real risk.

The gap between what academic and community-based physician leaders demand in a new role and the recruitment process they’re willing to tolerate is fiercely closing with power transitioning from the traditional institution to the candidate in high demand. This is making the role of the search committee even more critical to physician leadership recruitment success.

The search committee represents the strategic direction of the organization and decides by vote which candidate to hire—Choose members wisely.

I am of the opinion that search committees should be called Leadership Transition Committees, as they single-handedly determine which physician leaders will steer the organization through clinical innovation initiatives, healthcare transformation processes, physician and resident retention strategies, and more.

When working with community-based healthcare organizations and academia, I’m often asked to advise on who should serve on the search committee, as well as strategies to ensure effectiveness. Setting up a search committee contains three key components: Preparation, Committee Mix, and Commitment. Let’s review.

  1. Preparation

This stage is the most overlooked and underutilized, yet it’s the one that will ultimately keep your committee on track throughout the entire search process. Before you set up your search committee, prepare the following three documents: Job Analysis, Committee Charter, and Activity Report.

The Job Analysis contains specific candidate parameters including experience, competencies, and soft skills. It also includes compensation information and position duties. Tip: Resist the temptation to recycle an old Job Analysis. Healthcare is constantly changing, so consult with direct reports, colleagues, and superiors who will interact with the chosen physician leader.

The Committee Charter defines the committee tasks and the chair obligations, as well as budget and deadline guidelines. It also includes a list of decision-makers involved in the recruitment process, the Diversity Policy or Affirmative Action Plans, as well as all EEOC, EOP, and other human resource forms. There is no room for ambiguity in the Committee Charter.

The Search Activity Report contains a step-by-step process that the committee will follow throughout the recruitment process, as well as a record of all activity to be certain the search is on track with regards to goals and deadlines. The commitment to diversity and equity is shown in this report as well.

  1. Committee Mix

Making recruitment decisions by committee can be very effective as long as the committee isn’t polarized—one that agrees on everything without due diligence or, worse, one that is riddled with conflict. To prevent this, decide who will lead as the committee chair first. This person is the liaison between the search committee, the hiring official and, when involved, the search firm. It’s important that the chair be the same level position or higher than for the role you’re recruiting and is a naturally strong leader.

To round out your search committee, here are some best-practice guidelines:

  • Keep the committee to an odd number as each person has voting rights.
  • Have no more than 11 members, ideally between seven and nine.
  • Reflect diversity in regard to gender, race, seniority, reporting levels, and departments.
  • Include a human resources or legal officer as an ex-officio member.

Also, keep in mind that for President or Provost searches, you will want to include stakeholders from the board, the foundation and, when relevant, the alumni.

  1. Commitment

The most common reason for ineffectiveness within a search committee is lack of commitment and engagement. When physician leadership searches extend from weeks to months, enthusiasm can dissipate. Schedule monthly or bi-monthly meetings to review search progress and set future expectations.

The main goal of the search committee is to review, screen, and host candidates, as well as check references. It can also be very tempting to discuss a candidate with a spouse or colleague, but to maintain search integrity, confidentiality is a must. This extends to voting procedures as well. Blind voting eliminates the potential for recruitment bias, and it extends respect for all candidates regardless of what stage of the recruitment process they’re eliminated.

Whether you use a recruitment firm or choose internal resources, building an effective search committee or Leadership Transition Committee is the optimal method for maximizing time, candidate fit, and recruitment investment. Remember, most importantly, the search committee is responsible for choosing the physician leader who will drive the future of your healthcare organization—Those are big shoes to fill and worthy of extra attention prior to launching a new search.

 

At Jackson Physician Search, we help healthcare organizations and academic medical centers to recruit physician leaders. Our innovative process includes rolling well-qualified and interested candidates as they become available versus waiting for a full slate, reducing the number of interviews with cutting edge technology, and providing transparent and frequent communication to search committees. This strategy reduces candidate attrition and time-to-fill while increasing recruitment return on investment. Please contact our physician leadership experts at Jackson Physician Search for more information.

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Let Branded Recruitment Work for You

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Has your healthcare organization developed a brand that is recognizable to local consumers and gives them a glimpse into your values and culture?  If not, you may be missing out on consumers who would choose your facility for their healthcare needs, as well as physicians you are trying to recruit.  It is critical that you use your brand throughout your recruitment process, but remember that it’s more than just a logo and tagline. Rather, it represents an embodiment of your staff, your values, and the type and quality of care you provide to your patients.

As important as branding is for your organization, overall, it is just as important in attracting the right physicians to join your team.  Physicians today are much more likely to join organizations that they perceive to share similar culture and values. Jackson Physician Search understands the importance of branding and offers branded physician recruitment.  Branded recruitment is a level of partnership with a recruitment agency that goes to the next level. A recruitment agency’s resources and expertise are combined with the branding of the organization. Job postings and emails have the logo of the organization and include more detail about the opportunity.

How Branded Recruitment Works for You

Whether you are an administrator at a rural FQHC or a multi-facility health system, branded recruitment offers you an opportunity to expand and improve your recruitment process.  A smaller facility or health system may not have the resources to run a national recruitment campaign.  In many instances, those who are doing the recruiting are already wearing multiple hats. Finding a trusted physician recruitment partner who can manage a branded search for your vacancy immediately adds experienced resources to your search effort.  And, in the case of a large health system with an established team of recruiters, today’s hiring landscape is probably stretching them to capacity.  Large systems can utilize their recruitment partner for specific searches, for example, the primary care and internal medicine vacancies, while the in-house team focuses on all of the specialties.  Both of these scenarios creates a win-win situation because, with branded recruitment, the physicians only see your facility name and brand.  Let’s look at other ways a branded recruitment strategy can work for you.

  • Using a branded recruitment strategy with a trusted, experienced recruitment partner immediately provides you with a nationwide reach and access to hundreds of passive and active physician applicants. AAMC reports that physicians in Georgia remain in the state after completing their education at a rate of 49.8% and 62.1% in Texas.
  • Digital branding of your ads and emails seamlessly appear to the candidates as coming from your facility and location. Studies show that branded emails generate up to a 50% higher response rate than generic emails or job board postings.
  • Having a recruitment partner managing your brand presence for physician vacancies improves your brand awareness and visibility, helping you now and in future searches.
  • Your recruitment partnership is an exclusive agreement that takes the time-consuming vetting process off of your team’s plate, allowing them to focus on other critical matters of the business. You are only presented with the candidates who fit your organizational culture and values.

Your brand is important, and it should be a factor in your recruitment process.  Using a recruitment partner who understands the importance of brand and also has the capabilities to reach candidates, you may not otherwise have access to, is an important factor in finding a physician who fits your need.

Jackson Physician Search can manage your branded search campaign while providing you with access to proprietary digital tools, national exposure, and an experienced team of recruitment professionals.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can put your brand to work for you.

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How a Recruiter Can Help You Find Your Best Opportunity

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Dr. E is a young, family medicine practitioner. She did her undergrad in Alabama and her medical degree in Washington, DC.  Dr. E was completing her Family Medicine Residency at a large medical center in North Carolina, but was in the process of starting her search for outpatient primary care openings within driving distance of her family who lived in and around Washington, DC.

Searching for the right position on her own, she had received a few offers from large medical systems but had been hesitant to accept any of them. She was finding that the offers were requiring her to commit to five years, in exchange for a $100,000 in student loan assistance.  Then, Dr. E responded to an opportunity for a Primary Care provider search being promoted by Jackson Physician Search, Director of Recruitment, Sally Ann Patton.  The opportunity was located in Maryland and within driving distance of the nation’s capital.  Dr. E and Sally Ann immediately developed a great rapport. Through their initial conversations, Sally Ann quickly understood Dr. E’s concerns about the type of setting she was looking for, her student loan concerns, and she walked her through what a reasonable compensation package might look like without strings attached. She explained what Dr. E should be looking for to provide quality of life, a manageable caseload, and the ability to pay down her student loans.

The opportunity that was being presented to Dr. E was with a 375-bed community hospital system that was primarily physician-led throughout their seven locations.  Dr. E met with the key leaders and was immediately taken by the physician-first approach and their focus on the doctor-patient relationship.  She found this in contrast to the larger systems that she had been interviewing at, and she appreciated the personable approach that was evident with everyone she met.  Another important relationship that played a role in what ultimately turned into a successful placement was the key role that the client’s recruitment lead played in the process.

There were clear lines of communication from the beginning, and the client was very responsive to any questions or concerns raised by Dr. E.  When the offer was presented to Dr. E, she had received a couple of other solid offers.  Because of the trust and rapport she had built with Sally Ann, she felt confident in her understanding of everything being presented to her and ultimately chose the community setting.

This scenario is not uncommon for young physicians who might be overwhelmed by the frenzied nature of searching for the right opportunity. In this case, the recruitment professional was able to establish a trust-based relationship with the physician, provide guidance about the industry and the inner workings of the contractual offer process, and even help facilitate the open communication between the client and the candidate.

If you are a physician who is ready to start exploring new opportunities to take the next step in your career, or if you are a new physician and want to better understand the industry through the guidance of an experienced physician recruitment professional, contact Jackson Physician Search today.

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You can watch the recording of JPS Recruiters Live: 3 Things Residents Need to Know to Land a Great First Job on our Facebook page. (10 mins.)

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How to Solve the Impending Physician Shortage

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While we continue to see news stories that illustrate the impending physician shortage that is impacting communities all over the United States, the thing we don’t hear enough about is what can be done about it.  The main reason for the lack of information about ways to reverse the doctor shortage is because much of it relies on federal intervention.  To refresh your memory, in 1997 as part of a Balanced Budget Act, Congress enacted legislation to cap the number of residency training slots to be funded through Medicare.  Now, twenty-two years later, the limitations are effectively inhibiting the training of enough new physicians to keep up with the increased care demands of a growing population and an elderly population that is living longer.

A recent comprehensive study presented key findings to include, a projected physician shortage by the year 2032 of up to 121,900, and population growth of 10% with those over age 65 increasing by 48%.  The report did identify that there would be a continuation in the growth of physician assistants and advanced practice RNs.  Good news on the surface, but the report found that emerging health care delivery trends in addition to the increased use of advanced practice providers would only contribute to a physician demand reduction of about 1% overall.  Considering all of these factors, let’s look at what can be done to solve the physician shortage.

  1. Enact legislation to reverse the residency training limits.

There are currently two bills that were introduced in the House of Representatives and one bill introduced in the Senate that will increase the numbers of residency slots by up to 5,000 per year for the next five years.  While this should be welcome news that physician shortage relief is on the horizon, the current ultra-partisan state of our legislative branch means that like so many other pieces of legislation, no action is being taken on the bills.  All three of these legislative items are sitting in a preliminary status after having been introduced earlier this year. Concerned citizens can take action and contact their federally elected representatives and ask them to move on the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019 (H.R. 1763, S. 348) and also the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (H.R. 3414).

  1. Continue to develop ways to improve physician utilization.

As previously mentioned, there is a growing utilization of advanced practice providers, such as physician assistants and other specialty practice providers, like certified anesthesiologist assistants and others.  Extending a physician’s reach through improved and increased utilization of technology solutions, like telemedicine, is another cost-effective way to improve access in underserved communities. One interesting advancement currently being used in France is a standalone telemedicine booth, called a Consult Station.  Inside, a patient is connected with a physician, via video, and has access to an array of diagnostic medical devices. Guided by the physician, the patient can perform a variety of health checks, including vital signs, blood oxygen levels, an electrocardiogram, and other tests.  These stations are in use throughout France and have improved access to medical care for many underserved rural communities.

  1. Embrace the utilization of new technologies.

Like France has done with the implementation of the Consult Station, the United States must take action to embrace and increase the efficiency of implementing new technologies.  From streamlining the training, licensing, and certification process for new innovations to increasing the utilization of computer-assisted medicine, artificial intelligence, and sensor technology.  As today’s healthcare consumers become more and more connected, they are increasingly active in monitoring their own care and are more open to accepting technologies as part of their healthcare experience. Technological innovations can supplement the increased utilization of advanced practice professionals and help bridge the gap in direct physician interventions.

There is no simple answer to the challenge of alleviating the physician shortage in the United States.  It is going to take a multi-faceted approach that includes participation and funding from both the private and public sector.  What can’t be overstated, however, is the fact that the trending pace of the shortage is far exceeding the pace of actions being taken to address the matter.  Until, a concerted effort is taken at the federal, state, and local level, access to care gaps will widen, and healthcare consumers will continue to bear the burden of the inaction.

 

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Physician’s Choice: Employed vs. Self-employed

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Today’s physicians are in the enviable position of being in such high demand that they have any number and variety of career options to choose from. Some, in recent years, have left their private practice for hospital or large health system employment, while others have reconsidered and returned to a private setting.  Let’s take a look at the main differences between being an employed physician vs. self-employed.

Employed

  1. Financial Stability – Physicians working in a hospital or hospital-owned group do not have to worry about over-head, billing, administrative, or other private practice concerns. They know what their salary is going to be and any types of financial incentives they need to meet.
  2. Focus on Medicine – Like financial stability, employed physicians don’t have as many distractions or the responsibilities of running the practice, in addition to treating their patients. This allows their focus to remain on doing what they love to do most, practice medicine.
  3. Benefits/Insurance Coverage – Like most careers, when you are working for a larger organization, you tend to have better insurance and other benefits. Employed physicians typically have better malpractice insurance as another added benefit over private practice.
  4. Regular Schedule – In an employment setting, physicians tend to negotiate a stable work schedule, limited call duties, and paid vacation time.
  5. Academic Opportunities – In an employed setting, physicians who have the desire to pursue research and other academic opportunities can do so without losing billable hours at a private practice.

Self-employed

  1. Autonomy – As much as employed physicians have guaranteed financial security, self-employed physicians have the autonomy to practice medicine the way they deem is best. Self-employed physicians do not have administrators or other executives dictating various processes or rules that may be contrary to the physician’s practice methods.
  2. Workplace Culture – Physicians in a self-employed setting have the ability to develop the culture and values of their workplace. Whereas in an employed setting, there is little control of the culture. When you are the one making the decisions, everything that happens within the workplace is within your purview.
  3. Unlimited Income Potential – While an employed setting may provide a stable financial opportunity, there is no limit to how successful your private setting can become. As in any business, you can grow the practice into whatever you envision and with greater success comes greater reward, financial and otherwise.
  4. Work/Life Balance – When you run your own practice, you can control your work schedule. It may take time, but eventually, you can be in a position to work as many or as few hours as suits your lifestyle.
  5. Patient Relationships – In a self-employed setting, physicians have opportunities to develop relationships with their patients. Research has shown that when a doctor gets to know their patient, the result is that both are more satisfied with the level of care and overall experience.

The results of physician job satisfaction surveys show that employed physicians and self-employed physicians have similar levels of job satisfaction, with self-employed physicians just slightly more satisfied.  With that, it is safe to infer that physicians should choose the practice setting that is best aligned with their individual career goals and workplace preferences.  The employment outlook for physicians is continuing to grow at a rapid pace which means that there will continue to be plenty of opportunities to choose from regardless of the practice setting.

If you want to explore the many opportunities that are available for your physician career, contact a Jackson Physician Search recruitment professional today.

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JPS Recruiters Live: 3 Things Residents Need to Know to Land a Great First Job

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You can watch the recording of JPS Recruiters Live: 3 Things Residents Need to Know to Land a Great First Job on our Facebook page. (10 mins.)

What you need to know, before we get started, is that now is the time for you to be preparing yourself for the perfect job opportunity.

Why Now?

  • Credentialing process: On average will take 90 – 120 days
  • Phone interviews and site visits: 30 – 45 days, longer if considering multiple offers
  • Decision making: Some organizations move faster than others but prepare for a 30-day process
  • Contract review, revisions, and signing: At least 30 days

When things are going smoothly, you are looking at a process that will take 6- to 8-months from the first date of contact.

Things to Consider

1. Play the Long Game

    • Finances – The financial aspect of your first job can be broken down into the immediate monetary value (salary, sign-on bonus, loan forgiveness, etc.), and more importantly, the long-term wealth-building opportunity of the position. Consider how the job will set you up for your future including buying a home, starting a family, living within the lifestyle of your choice, and even potentially retiring early.
    • Impact – Your career choices have an impact on every aspect of your life. Internally, you should consider what type of impact you will be able to impart on the practice and setting you choose. From an external perspective, consider the impact you can have on the community and patients you will serve. Finally, it is important to consider how your career choice impacts yourself, your family, and your future.
    • Experience – Think about how this first job is going to set you up for the future. What types of experiences will be provided for you and what do you want to gain from this job.

 

2. Embrace Your Brand

    • Millennial Pride – Yes, you are a millennial and with that comes an intrinsic set of positive attributes. As outlined in Entrepreneur Magazine, millennial employees are naturally curious, very tech-savvy, care about important social issues, and among other things, are great working in teams. Own your “millennial-ness!”
    • Promote Your Brand – Healthcare organizations have finally begun embracing the concept that finding employees who fit their culture and values are their best hires. The same applies to residents who should be looking at opportunities with organizations that match their own values. Embracing the things that you are passionate about and understanding what unique traits you bring to the table will help you make the right choice.
    • First Impressions – You’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point. Be proud of the fact that you are no longer a resident and are stepping out into a fresh start. You are skilled, prepared, and ready to make a difference – Use these attributes to present yourself during the interview process.

 

3. Utilize Available Resources

    • Don’t Go It Alone – In your profession, most of the time, you are left to your own devices when treating your patients. Sure, you have a team of nurses and others to help, but the decisions come from you. Your first job search doesn’t have to be that way. Finding an established, experienced recruitment partner, like Jackson Physician Search, can open up doors and information that you might otherwise miss.
      • Resources, Access, and Reach – A trusted career partner has resources and established connections throughout the industry that will help you access the right opportunity.
      • Experience, Data, Mentoring – Establishing a relationship with an experienced recruitment firm allows you to tap into a team that has been in the industry for decades. The right firm will provide you with quality, real-time market data showing you where the best jobs can be found.
      • Contract Negotiations – Physician compensation offers can be a tricky, complicated process. Your recruitment partner can help you navigate the hills and valleys of contract negotiations and help keep your mind at ease.
    • Blogs and Articles – There is a lot of information available to any physician who is willing to take the time to stay current on things that are happening in the employment side of the industry. You are already perusing articles through the New England Journal of Medicine, but at this stage of your career, it is also important to stay focused on the job search. Subscribing to professionally presented blog articles, like those found through Jackson Physician Search provides you access to compensation information, industry trends, data analysis, and much more. Other sites and applications we would recommend include Doximity and LinkedIn.

If you want to connect with a trusted, experienced physician recruitment firm with a national presence, contact the professionals at Jackson Physician Search today.

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A Texas-sized Opportunity

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Sometimes, a career move leaves you wondering if it was the right move after all. This was the case with Dr. J., a Board-certified OBGYN who left his native Texas for an opportunity at a Women’s Hospital in the state of Ohio.  While his wife and kids stayed behind in Lubbock, waiting for their house to sell, Dr. J. quickly ingratiated himself into his new community, even becoming involved with a local church.

Dr. J. was in a good position at the hospital and knew he had an opportunity to be successful there, but the longer his house was on the market back in Texas, the more he missed his family, his parents, and their extended family. It was around this time that Dan Rixon, a recruitment Specialist with Jackson Physician Search, posted an OBGYN opportunity for a client in the panhandle of Texas.  Because of its more rural location, the CEO was looking for someone familiar with the panhandle lifestyle who could lead their expanding OBGYN Department.  Dr. J. saw the job on an online job board and immediately reached out to Dan to casually learn more about the opening.  He explained his situation but told Dan that he wasn’t quite ready to express any formal interest.

Over the next three months, Dan spoke with Dr. J. about once a month to monitor the progress of the home sale back in Lubbock.  Finally, on an evening in June, Dr. J. and Dan had a long conversation about his situation. The length of time it was taking for his house to sell made him revaluate whether or not he wanted to stay in Ohio. They spoke about Dr. J.’s “true” career plans and also what it would mean to be closer to family. Ultimately, Dr. J. decided that he wanted to speak with the CEO and see if the opportunity in Texas was a good fit.

Once they spoke, Dr. J. sensed an immediate connection with the CEO and agreed to a site visit.  Prior to the visit, the CEO’s wife reached out to Dr. J.’s wife to get her involved in the process. This made Dr. J.’s wife feel very comfortable, and they made plans for her and the kids throughout the upcoming site visit.  During the four-day visit, Dr. J. and his family were overwhelmed by how everything seemed to click. They attended the local high school football pep rally, met many of the other physicians at a dinner in the CEO’s home, and other staff members and several local dignitaries at a well-attended barbecue picnic.  And, to cap off the incredible karma that was being generated, Dr. J. found out that he and the CEO had ties to the same college, Abilene Christian University.

Within ten days, Dr. J. was presented with a contract to be the Director of the OBGYN Department.  He felt a great sense of relief because he knew that this opportunity was going to be perfect for him.  From the connection he felt with everyone he met to how well he and his family were treated and made to feel special during the site visit, Dr. J. is thankful to be back in Texas and closer to his roots.

Whether you are actively or just casually considering a change in your physician career, contact a recruitment professional at Jackson Physician Search today.

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What To Consider When Choosing a Practice Setting

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When you were first dreaming about becoming a doctor, there is a good chance that most of the dream was just about helping and healing people without much thought to where it would occur.  Now that your dream has become a reality, you are probably amazed at how many options you have regarding a practice setting.  You have worked extremely hard to get where you are, so it is important to choose a practice setting that fits your personality and gives you the best opportunity to live out your dream.  Let’s look at several the things you should consider when choosing a practice setting.

Market Demographics

Many physicians who grew up in a small town or a rural community want to practice medicine in a rural setting.  Others who grew up in the city may just want to spend more time enjoying nature in wide-open spaces.  While there may not be a large variety of practice settings to choose from, many doctors favor the pace and lifestyle benefits that a rural community can provide.

Physicians who choose to practice in urban or more metropolitan areas will have many more practice options to choose from. In larger metro areas, doctors will experience more growth opportunities, higher patient volumes, and also have more access to support than those in rural communities.

Employment Model

Most recently, the trend for physicians is to leave their self-employed practice setting for a hospital or large system setting.  While some physicians are considering a return to private practice, the overall demand for practicing physicians is driving up the number of opportunities available in hospital settings and large private practice partnerships.

Many physicians prefer working in a hospital setting as a way to ensure a stable income with greater opportunities to earn bonuses and negotiate more favorable work hours. In a partnership setting, physicians are bridging the gap between being self-employed and the stability of a hospital setting. As a partner or at a minimum on a partnership track, physicians have a greater say in how the practice operates, fostering patient relationships, and contributing to the workplace culture.

Type of Organization

Much of your decision on the type of practice setting you want to work will be based on whether or not you want to work in a large or small setting. Obviously, if you want to be self-employed, you will be working in a smaller practice environment. If you choose to work in a large health system environment, you will have the luxury of having a stable flow of patients as well as access to a plethora of referring physicians.

If you are a specialist, you may want to practice in a single-specialty group that is independent or affiliated with a larger health system.  Others choose to practice in a larger group that has multiple specialties included within the organization.  This allows patients to have easier access to different specialists when necessary.

Working in a clinic setting may be the perfect choice for doctors who want to work in rural or underserved communities. Clinics typically offer a stable schedule with regular hours and even weekends off!  A downfall to working in a clinic environment is usually lower compensation and a lack of growth potential.

No one needs to tell you that a career as a physician is both rewarding and difficult.  The hard part of the equation is the main reason why it is so important for you to choose the right practice setting so you can achieve everything you dreamed of before becoming a doctor.  Finding a setting that affords you the opportunity to succeed and in an environment that fits your personal culture and values will lead to a long and personally healthy career.

Is it time for you to explore other opportunities and take your career to the next level?  Working with a Jackson Physician Search recruitment professional can be the jump start you need.  Contact our team of dedicated, industry experts today!

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The Shrinking Gap between Academic and Community-Based Physician Leader Recruitment

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Just a decade ago, physicians made a choice early in their career to be a teacher or a clinician and there was very little cross-over. Those that chose the academic medical path became physician leaders or clinical faculty who spent much, if not all, of their time teaching medical students, conducting medical research, and commandeering schedules, budgets, and strategic plans. Their clinician counterparts, however, were inspired to care for patients in medical clinics, acute care centers, or hospitals—possibly becoming physician leaders later in their career.

Academic versus private-sector physician leader used to translate to large title versus large pay—but no more.

It used to be that physicians who chose an academic career path could expect a large title and reasonable hours, but lower compensation. It was a tradeoff that physician leaders were willing to accept as there was an equilibrium of supply and demand. Academic Medical Deans and Chairs recruited with this knowledge, setting up large search committees, reviewing long slates of physician leader candidates, and conducting multiple interviews. The recruitment process often stretched well past the one-year mark, making it a painfully slow, inefficient, and expensive process. Worse, there was nothing candidates could do about it.

But the gap between what academic and community-based physician leaders demand in a new role is fiercely closing with power transitioning from the traditional institution to the candidate in high demand. With the worsening physician shortage—between 42,600 and 121,300 by 2032 according the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)—both academic and community-based healthcare organizations are recruiting from the same pool. Academia will need to adjust their recruitment strategy to win physician leaders—offering higher pay, more traditional sign-on incentives, and a faster, more candidate-friendly recruitment process.

What are the three reasons driving the shift that’s creating a new generation of physician leaders?

  1. Mergers, acquisitions, and collaborations. A decade ago, few would have predicted Duke University Health System and LifePoint Health would collaborate and form a joint LLC. Today, we’re seeing this more often as financially strong and centralized healthcare organizations are partnering with academic facilities to attract talent, retain residents, and keep patients from leaving the system.

As the proverbial lines blur between these organizations due to mergers, acquisitions, and collaborations, physician leader employment agreements are more centralized than ever before, leading physicians to view new job opportunities on either side of the table equally.

  1. Massive physician deficit. In addition to the total physician shortage, the AAMC is estimating a deficit of 55,000 primary care doctors and 66,000 specialists. Baby boomers (76.4 million people in the U.S. and our largest workforce) have a long life expectancy, and they’re starting to retire from medicine, only coupling the problem. The shortage doesn’t discriminate between practicing clinicians and physician leaders either, leading to an unforgiving supply and demand situation.

According to the American Association of Physician Leadership (AAPL), dual degree programs such as MD/MBA or MD/MHA have increased from six to more than 65 throughout the last decade—physicians are pursuing leadership training and they expect to be compensated for their efforts. In fact, dual-degreed physicians and physician leaders earn 13% more whether they choose the academic or traditional career path.

  1. Recruitment and retention of physician leaders. Traditionally, academic physician leaders rarely left their posts prior to retirement, allowing academia the luxury of long lead times on succession planning. It was not unusual—and it’s still the case—that a recruitment process could extend well beyond a year. With everyone competing for the same candidates now, those days are gone and both academia and physician leader recruitment firms need to modernize their recruitment strategy if they want to hire to clinically sound, resilient physician leaders who fit within the culture and desire to stay long term. Academia will need to increase their compensation packages and streamline their recruitment processes to attract talent, as well as provide physician leaders with new opportunities to lead and grow within the organization to retain them.

Today’s physicians and physician leaders are now in the recruitment driver seat. They want more control over new opportunities, and they won’t tolerate a cumbersome recruitment process. At Jackson Physician Search, we’ve found success in rolling well-qualified and interested candidates as they become available versus waiting for a full slate, reducing the number of interviews with cutting edge technology, and providing transparent and frequent communication to search committees. This strategy reduces candidate attrition and time-to-fill, while increasing recruitment return on investment. Need help recruiting a physician leader? Please contact our physician leadership experts at Jackson Physician Search today.

About Angela Henry, FACHE, Vice President, Physician Leadership

Angela Henry leads the physician leadership division for Jackson Physician Search. She advises healthcare organizations and medical schools on strategic workforce solutions to secure the right physician leaders using a transparent recruitment strategy.

Prior to joining Jackson Physician Search, Angela worked for other search firms that provided staffing solutions for acute care, outpatient, ambulatory, and academic organizations.  She brought cost savings to her clients by utilizing contingent labor and increasing retention of permanent clinical leaders.

Angela’s passion for healthcare began at a very young age after participating in medical mission trips to Mexico and Ukraine. She entered nursing school and owned and managed Green Country Surgical Arts, a cosmetic and general surgery clinic in Oklahoma.

Angela earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Georgia, a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Business from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, and a Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma. She is the Co-Chair for the Program’s Committee at the Georgia Association of Healthcare Executives and, in 2019, earned her Fellowship in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Act Fast to Get the Most Out of Your Recruitment Partner

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While most health care systems have in-house recruitment departments, the shortage of available physicians and the difficulty in reaching passive candidates have administrators bolstering their recruitment efforts with the services of an outside recruitment partner.  Once a relationship is established with a trusted physician search firm, there are several things that can be done to support your in-house recruiting team while getting the most out of your recruitment partner.

Foster an environment of trust.  If you speak with the front-line recruiters from outside physician search firms, one of the first challenges they tend to mention is that the in-house recruitment team sometimes view them as a threat to their job. While this is as much human nature as anything, nothing could be farther from the truth. Administrators can ease any initial concerns by discussing the reasons why the search partner has been contracted. The external team is not there because someone wasn’t performing, but more as a response to the competitiveness of the hiring environment.  Portraying the search partner as an extension of the team, with the same goal of finding the best candidates for the organization, goes a long way to set the foundation for a successful relationship.

Clearly define roles to create success.  When you are contracting with a search partner, you can utilize their expertise at finding the right candidates while your in-house team focuses on other important components of a successful search. In most cases, the in-house recruitment team is already stretched pretty thin, and in addition to finding candidates, they are probably involved in many other aspects of the process.  Using a search partner can be the ideal way to ensure that your in-house team is “nailing” all of the aspects of a physician hire, including managing the interview process, planning and attending the site visit meetings, assisting with contract negotiations, reference checks, credentialing, and onboarding.

“My most successful client relationships are ones where the organization truly sees me as an extension of the team. It works well when they allow me to do the ‘heavy lifting’ on the back end or behind the scenes while the in-house staff focuses on the important front-end candidate management activities.” ~T. O., Director of Recruiting

Success comes with a sense of urgency.  One of the most important aspects of a successful physician search is having a process that is conducive to moving quickly.  It is extremely important to understand that most candidates are going to be choosing from multiple offers.  This is another area where your external partner can help you keep things moving.  The key is to ensure that before any search, all of the individuals who have a say in the hiring process are already on-board and recognize the urgency of the situation.  Things to include are ensuring that presented candidates are acted upon quickly, in most cases, the first contact should be within 24 to 48 hours.  Build momentum by quickly setting up interviews and prepare a winning site visit.  Another way to feed that momentum is by having the basics of a contract already laid out and approved by key decision-makers.  The most disappointing aspect of any physician search is missing out on the perfect candidate because of an avoidable bottleneck.

“I’ve had situations where there has been a 3-week gap in between contact and scheduling an interview. Needless to say, most of those candidates chose other opportunities.” ~H.F., Recruiter

Lean on your search partner’s expertise.  When you have established a great relationship with your search partner, it is important to know that they can be relied upon in a variety of ways. The successful relationship has abundant two-way communication and allows you to lean on the external recruiters to help you close the deal with your desired candidate. You can always rely on your recruitment partner to confirm availability for interviews, insights into planning the perfect site visit, and even act as a liaison through the negotiation process when appropriate.

“When we are engaged as an extension of the team and there is open communication and transparency, the relationship is seamless.  We can customize our own process to meet the needs of the client, making it a true collaboration where we all have the same goals.” ~C.C., Senior Director of Recruiting

If your organization is looking for an experienced, trusted partner to help your recruitment operations, contact the professionals at Jackson Physician Search today.

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