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Dos & don'ts of physician recruitment

Physician recruitment should be top concern in healthcare workforce management

Due to its substantial impact on a hospital’s bottom line, Tony Stajduhar, president of the Permanent Physician Recruitment Division at recruitment firm Jackson & Coker, believes physician recruitment should always be a top-five concern for hospital administrators – something that he says is not always the case.

“A physician drives revenue to the hospital. That’s what makes a hospital ‘go’ financially and fills community needs. A community needs to get its people taken care of,” said Stajduhar. “There are lots of reasons to recruit physicians and it’s become even more important as the years have gone on.”

Stajduhar explained that while there are numerous costs, including hidden costs, associated with recruitment, there are certain aspects of the recruiting process that are well worth the dollars spent and others that simply aren’t in his opinion.

“ROI is a huge thing, and in many cases when hospital administrators figure out who to choose to recruit, they get hung up on costs rather than the investment of that particular recruitment,” he said. “When it comes to ROI, in reality most physicians will bring in at least a million dollars to the hospital, which is well worth the cost of recruiting that physician.”

However, it’s important for a hospital or healthcare system to find a recruitment firm that will work on finding a physician that “is a perfect fit” for that organization, and one that will also act quickly in finding a physician.

“If one firm tries to say, ‘we’ll get this done for less,’ and the hospital is hung up on the cost of recruiting  - well, it doesn’t really do a lot of good in the long run if you don’t get a doctor that’s a good fit for the hospital in the long term. However, the recruitment still has to be done quickly,” Stajduhar added. “Every month you go without a needed physician, you lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s one of the things I talk about when we discuss ROI and costs. Who do you feel comfortable getting the job filled sooner than later – and someone that fits well into your organization? It has to be looked at in perspective.”

He added that one way that hospital administrators can cut down their physician recruitment costs immediately is to stop utilizing direct mail.

“Direct mail is a huge hidden cost for hospitals when it comes to physician recruitment,” he said. “Hospitals put together these letters targeting a specific audience with descriptions and photos of their organization. While that sounds nice and worked very well in the 1980s when fewer firms and hospitals were using this method, now physicians get hammered with mail, and most of the time those letters just end up in the trash.”

Stajduhar added that in many cases, hospitals will be lucky to see one of two responses from 10,000 pieces of mail.

“No one wants to open direct mail. In many cases, each mail piece costs 0.75 cents and then recruitment companies charge double that to their hospital clients,” he explained.

Additionally, most direct mail pieces will take around 30 days to reach the targeted physicians from the time a hospital signs on to have mail pieces sent out – time that most hospitals don’t have to waste, he added.

A much quicker and more effective way to reach physicians, Stajduhar said, is to post on targeted physician job boards online and targeted email blasts.

“Getting the job ads in the right places and making sure they are out in front of everyone as quickly as possible is key,” he said.

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