How to fill hard physician specialties

How to fill hard physician specialties
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September 20, 2022 04:23 AM (GMT-04:00)
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How to Improve Recruitment and Retention for Difficult-to-Fill Physician Positions

As healthcare organizations and recruiting professionals are well-aware, certain types of physician positions are tough to fill. However, there are many creative solutions to improve recruitment and retention of highly qualified providers.

A Growing Shortage of Specialists

It seems the challenges with placing specialists will only become more difficult over the next decade due to growing shortages.

The Association of American Medical Colleges expects a total shortage of 37,800-124,000 physicians by 2034, especially across the following specialties (AAMC):

  • Addiction medicine
  • Anesthesiology
  • Cardiology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Family medicine
  • General pediatrics
  • General surgery
  • Geriatric medicine
  • Infectious diseases
  • Neurology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology surgery
  • Oncology
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Pulmonology

Further, Physicians Thrive reports a predicted shortage in the following specialties through 2025:

  • Cardiology
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Gastroenterology
  • General surgery
  • Hematology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Pulmonology
  • Urology

Plus, healthcare organizations frequently find it’s hard to place physicians in rural areas or in VA, IHS, mental health or correctional facilities.

How to Improve Recruitment and Retention for Hard-to-Fill Physician Positions

Fortunately, healthcare organizations can take steps to improve recruitment and retention for hard-to-fill specialties, locations and facilities.

  1. Build the organization’s reputation and brand recognition. Take a look at your organization’s website, social platforms, published articles, press releases and media presence. Does your marketing accurately reflect the organization? Does the culture seem warm and inviting? Are providers and other employees publicly recognized and appreciated? Are accolades and awards prominently featured? Consider updating your marketing channels to give an effective impression.

  2. Highlight the value of joining the organization. When advertising the position, ensure your marketing effectively describes the value of the position and organization. What is it like to work there? Does the position offer greater autonomy, superb work-life balance, flexibility, wellness programs, telehealth, reduced burnout?

  3. Feature the benefits of the location and surrounding area. Is the facility convenient to get to? Is housing close by? Highlight features like great schools, family activities, natural areas, fun attractions, welcoming community, exciting events and more.

  4. Focus on the personal reward of serving patients in need. Will the provider be working with seniors, indigenous people, veterans, rural residents, mental health patients, incarcerated individuals, children living in poverty or patients facing homelessness? Mention the rewards physicians can gain by caring for hard-to-reach patient populations.

  5. Describe opportunities for career growth. Are there opportunities for leadership, advancement, clinical research, training or networking? Consider how candidates may wish to grow with the organization and build their careers.

  6. Boost compensation and benefits packages. What perks can the organization offer? Will the provider receive a comprehensive benefits package, malpractice insurance, bonus opportunities, retirement plan match, relocation assistance or loan repayment?

  7. Get creative to find candidates. Ask physicians and other providers and staff for referrals, network with other facilities, recruit online, visit conferences, advertise with professional organizations, partner with academic institutions, use multiple sourcing methods/job search engines in-house, or – if you’re short on time – turn to a recruiter to handle the search process for you.

  8. Act quickly. Candidates in hard-to-fill specialties may be entertaining multiple offers. They will be in high demand, so plan to act quickly when you find promising candidates. Streamline the vetting and hiring processes to improve the chances of placing in-demand physicians.

  9. Offer a warm welcome. Developing a reputation as a facility that spends time welcoming, training and onboarding new physicians is wise. This sends the message that the organization values its providers and wants them to stay for the long-run.

  10. Rely on a trusted workforce solutions partner. Turn to a staffing agency for a strategic plan, including locum tenens support. A skilled partner can help you temporarily fill vacancies and find and vet permanent providers for hard-to-fill specialties and locations.

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