5 recruiting tips to fight the looming physician shortage

Increased demand for services will only exacerbate the problems expected by the shortage of close to 90,000 physicians in the next 10 years, according to a new survey that examines 2015 trends in healthcare recruitment.

Despite the factors behind the shortage--including the millions of newly insured consumers under the Affordable Care Act and aging baby boomers--Health eCareers says there are actions healthcare recruiters can take to ensure they hire and retain the best physicans. 

  1. Anticipate shortage cycles and plan ahead. The biggest shortages now are in family practice and internal medicine, according to Health eCareers' 2015 Healthcare Recruiting Trends report. But a few years ago the hard-to-fill positions were cardiologists and OB/GYNs. Planning for the unknown is the most important task for a recruiter, said Bryan Bassett, managing director of Health eCareers. Therefore, recruiters need to create succession plans now.
  2. Design new types of compensation packages. Recruiters need to recognize and respond to the changing needs of physicians. Barkley Davis, senior director of physician recruitment for LifePoint Hospitals, a public company with 70 hospitals in 22 states, recommends that recruiters look beyond salary to find and retain doctors. For example, consider helping doctors pay off medical school bills. "The number one thing that almost all new doctors need is debt relief," Davis said.
  3. Build and nurture your pipeline. Create incentives to motivate current employees to refer colleagues to your organization. There needs to be more forward thinking about using talent relationship management," Bassett said. And look out for candidates who may be available a year or two down the road. "Make sure you're recruiting in specialties where you can make hires today, even if you're a couple years out, because those areas will get tight again," said Bassett.
  4. Stretch the chain of command. Don't just look for physicians to fill the void even though doctors provide a lot of income to hospitals. Consider hiring non-physician providers like nurse practitioners and physician assistants, to take on the workload. "It's almost like you triage a physician's office depending on what patients need; it's not about always seeing a doctor anymore," Davis said.
  5. Use technology wisely. The report found that 45 percent of recruiters don't use alternative candidate pools to fill difficult positions, but many rely on technology. Eighty percent report they use job boards and 48 percent post openings to social media sites. "We've found that tweeting our jobs is a good way to reach doctors on social media," Davis said, adding it is also important to use email and cell phones to reach candidates directly. But targeted online job boards are the best way to go, according to Bassett. The sites frequently outrank a company's own website as most effective for filling job openings.

To learn more:
- read the Health eCareers announcement
- check out the report (.pdf)