Developing an Effective Physician Recruitment Strategy: A Five-Step Approach to Success

Written by: Alex Brown
Published on: Feb 22, 2021

welcoming a young doctor

The shortage of US physicians continues to be an alarming trend – and a growing concern for hospitals and other healthcare organizations. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the US is expected to see a shortfall of up to nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032.

To compete in this environment, it is critical to develop an effective recruitment plan.

Organizations must develop a clear strategy toward optimizing healthcare practices and the organizational investment in physician recruitment. Recruiting the best physicians, especially in multiple disciplines, can be expensive and time-consuming for hospitals and other health systems.

The objective is to not only to recruit physicians quickly but to recruit – and retain – the right doctors for your organization. Estimated turnover costs can add up to as much as $1 million per physician, so getting it right is crucial.

Defining a Strategic Physician Recruitment Plan

A strategic recruitment plan provides a roadmap for initiating outreach to potential candidates. Moreover, your recruitment approach will become part of your overarching medical staff development plan.

To set your organization up for success, you should begin by defining the roadmap using the following five phases:

Community Needs Assessment

A community needs assessment (CNA) focuses on demand within your geographic service area, not universal needs. Experts recommend that you should conduct a CNA every two to three years to keep pace with any changing healthcare demands in your region. Distributing surveys and even conducting interviews with your community members, administrators, physicians, hospital administrators, key local employers and hospital board members can provide useful insights that can be built into your CNA.

Physician Alignment With CNA

The next step is to have an independent party conduct a physician alignment analysis. This will reveal the types of physicians that your hospital or organization needs to fulfill community needs. For instance, do you need a specialist, or will a GP do the trick? Hiring a third-party assessor helps to maintain an objective approach to filling a need and avoid overstepping a key physician employment law.

Population Analysis

As important as the CNA, a population analysis helps to anticipate significant shifts up or down in your GSA. This phase leans on interviews, observations, surveys, and a review of demographic data and trends. You can estimate growth potential by taking an in-depth look at the last three to five years of your organization’s performance versus current market share and local population trends by disease state. This process will provide a kind of triangulation to develop an accurate picture of what is occurring now and what may happen in the near future.

Five-Year Strategic View

With the first three phases in place, you can now develop a five-year view for your organization. While leadership can direct this effort, you’ll also need input from physicians on your staff. Ask existing providers in individual interviews about their long-term goals. Do they anticipate staying or leaving? This phase should dovetail with your population analysis to verify alignment of organizational goals and anticipated shifts in demand for services. Also, you should review existing contracts and determine which medical staff is considered locum and which are seen as permanent.

Metrics and Benchmarks

Finally, by doing all this you’ll acquire a lot of valuable data that will help you refine your physician recruitment process, so it is fine-tuned to meet organizational demands. You can analyze the effectiveness of your strategy by measuring successes and failures. This information allows you to see what parts of the strategy worked well, where you could use improvement, and whether your staff recruitment is sustainable in the short and long term or whether you may be vulnerable to turnover.

As part of an effective recruitment strategy, consider raising the bar with our myHealthTalent online recruiting package.