While much of the news in 2008 centered on the sagging economy and the election of Barack Obama, there were a number of other recruitment developments playing out that received little national attention. These trends heavily impacted the way physicians are being recruited in 2009. In fact, 2008 is now being called a “tipping point” year that has had the greatest impact on recruitment and retention in the last 30 years.
One of the most significant changes in the workforce was that in 2008, Generation Y eclipsed the Baby Boomers as the largest work group in the United States. Currently, there are approximately 78.1 million Ys, aged 31 or younger in the workforce and only about 76.2 million Baby Boomers, aged 45 to 64 years. The Boomers are retiring at the rate of about seven every minute. And, their near workaholic attitudes have made them incredibility productive and difficult to replace. Generation Y doesn’t view the workplace with the same attitude—in fact, they believe in putting in a decent day’s work, but they draw a line much quicker than their Boomer counterparts, embracing the concept of work-life balance.
But the number of hours clocked each day is not the biggest impact realized from the changing of the guard. The technology savvy Ys have brought a sea change in how recruiters attract, recruit and retain MDs and their Mid-Level counterparts — Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners.
Emerging media such as Linked-In and Facebook are no longer something for socializing. There are currently 106,000 physicians listed on the I Am Doctor Facebook application and 379,251 registered MDs on the professional-social site, Linked-In. With a swift “in-mail”, physician recruiters can reach those individuals on Linked-In and quickly communicate open positions and the “hooks” associated with those opportunities. The Ys look to their counterparts for professional opportunities; people they trust and many come from their Facebook application. Recruiters today must know how to manipulate the incredible reach and strength of these social sites if they are going to reach viable candidates at all levels.
The i-Phone was introduced earlier than 2008 but it was in 2008 that it was fully adopted. Earlier versions of the cell phone were not easily used by the Baby Boomers and they used them primarily for calls. Today the i-Phone, with its logical and easy to use approach, attracts grandfathers (and older MDs) to the i-Phone and other “smart phones” in record numbers. Today, texting is not reserved for the “kids” with fast thumbs but for every generation from the Boomers to Generations X and Y.
According to the National Law Enforcement Association, it takes an average of 26 hours to report lost or stolen credit cards but only 66 minutes to report a lost or stolen cell phone. Ninety-one percent of Americans have their cell phone at arms’ reach at any given time. So with that kind of dependency comes an opportunity for physician recruiters to successfully text and e-mail opportunities.
It has long been recognized that the traditional paper and ink publications were in serious trouble, but it came as somewhat of a surprise in 2008 when so many newspapers and niche publications either completely closed their doors, went to all-on-line operations, limited home delivery or filed for bankruptcy. These were not small companies, but giants in the industry such as The Los Angeles Times, The Detroit Free Press and The Chicago Tribune. Publications are attempting to hold onto one of their most profitable sections—recruitment advertising—but best practice has long-ago limited their use and it has become apparent that the Internet is the dominant factor for physician and professional recruitment.
With the ascendancy of the Internet, knowing how to get high placement in searches has become vital. When eager, fresh MD candidates—who normally look for their professional starting point in the last half of their second year and all of their third—90% of them start with a Google search. Google has an incredible dominance in searches and there is no reason to doubt that will change. An effective Search Optimization Program is all-important. There are ways of assuring physician opportunities will “pop to the top” when searches are initiated and successful recruiters employ all their secrets to make that happen.
But, even if you have the search component down cold, your website continues to be the most important element of physician recruitment. Web 1.0 was all about pushing out information but Web 2.0 has taken us to having conversations. Candidates expect videos and an interactive format that will allow them to express interest with a response in hours — not days.
It was in 2008 that women matched men in medical schools causing a turnaround in expected benefits and how a position was sold. No longer will standard benefits land a good physician but because Baby Boomers have been eclipsed and in a hiring world where women match men — an attractive work-life balance has changed the necessary offering. Shorter hours, more part time (20% worked part time in 2006 as opposed to 13% in 2005, the last year it was recorded) and flexible benefits are required.
The year 2008 changed things dramatically but things have not slowed down in 2009. Physician recruitment will continue to morph quickly in the next few years considering the rapid changes in technology, consumer habits and the growing reality of a national healthcare plan with an emphasis on prevention.