Physician and Mid-Level Recruitment Really Is Different

When the fictional “fifth year” physicians of the television program Grey’s Anatomy considered employment at the end of this year’s season, none of them talked about private practice, even when they were from a family of private practitioners. One physician was leaving for Harvard and a $10 million grant to cure Alzheimer’s, another was considering a pediatric fellowship at Johns Hopkins, and a third was off to the Mayo Clinic.

The writers may have tapped into the freedom—which comes with fictional characters—to line up offers from only top healthcare delivery systems nationally, but it was a reflection of reality that they wanted to be employees as opposed to working for themselves.

Healthcare Reform, the arrival of Generation Y in the workplace and the fact that women equal men in medical school have essentially changed the way physicians are working and are why healthcare delivery systems are recruiting and hiring more medical doctors (MDs) than ever. There has also been a sea change in how to attract these professionals.

Medical doctors are some of the most wired individuals on the planet. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), an average of 92% of physicians tap into the Internet at least daily, and 80% use mobile devices routinely. The adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMR), which will continue whether Healthcare Reform is upheld by the Supreme Court or not, means that physicians are online almost all of the time.

Recruiting Generation Y—those individuals born essentially from 1978 to 2000—has always been about technology. They are the first true technology natives, but with EMRs, all physicians have been forced to embrace working within the digital space. EMRs have driven many physicians to willingly sell their private practice to healthcare delivery systems because they do not want to be burdened with the cost and frustration associated with the conversion, training and adoption of electronic medical records and other mandates of Healthcare Reform.

Healthcare delivery systems want physician practices so they can control more of the chain of treatment and capitalize on the higher Medicare and Medicaid payments for providing better care for less money. All of this has changed many recruiters’ open jobs report. Not only are there more openings for medical doctors, but also for nurse practitioners, physician assistants and the office staff which support them.

Let’s assume that the healthcare systems recruiting these individuals already have a sophisticated SEO/SEM marketing plan, a software answer for pulling open jobs out of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and serving them up to those searching for a position, and that applicants are being driven into an easy-to-maneuver application process. Let’s also assume that the creative is messaging appropriately and that the right individuals are applying.

When the recruiter sees the qualifications of a good applicant, the question becomes: what is the best way to go after these professionals we are now recruiting in bulk? An average healthcare recruiter has been screening and hiring registered nurses for years, patient technicians by the handful and allied health professionals with their eyes closed. Good recruiters know the difference needed for an entry-level position as opposed to a skilled healthcare professional—but what about physicians and mid-levels?

The recruitment of medical doctors, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) takes longer and requires much more attention to the individual. They absolutely expect for a recruiter to respond almost immediately and in a way that is not intrusive, such as a text message over a smart phone. They have endured more than the average person when it comes to education and financial outlay, and they do not want to change jobs often like many of their Generation Y counterparts. They are looking for a place where they can settle in and practice medicine.

Both male and female physicians are looking for more of a work/life balance, although females tend to work more part-time than their male counterparts. Compensation is still important, but the monetary aspect is less important than it was for physicians over 50 years of age. They want time off and other non-financial benefits, and recruiters will need to spell out those benefits clearly and individually to make the sale.

These younger professionals are also more altruistic. It wasn’t by accident that one of the most gifted physicians on Grey’s Anatomy was driven by the prospect of curing a hideous disease, as opposed to opening his own prestigious and higher-paying individual practice. How to make a real difference is oftentimes more important than what they are going to take home on payday.

These physicians and mid-levels want to be sure they are making the right move, and recruiters will find that more selling is required to fill these positions than recruiting. If you are talking to a candidate aged 34 or younger, they want information quickly and personally. Generation X (aged 35 to 48 years) wants to hear the information from someone they trust, and Baby Boomers (49 to 66 years) just want to know someone will help them with technology and that they will be appreciated.

Healthcare delivery systems will be seeking more physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and they’ll need to be prepared to do most of the process on a mobile device, tablet, or at the very least the Internet. There is and will continue to be a major shortage of these professionals, and the days-to-fill will be long.

It’s predicted that there will be a shortage of 150,000 of physicians in the next 15 years, and nurse practitioners are being seen as part of the solution for that shortage. However, there are only 155,000 NPs in this country, so competition is going to be fierce. The good news is that 88% of them specialize in primary care.

Everyone is waiting to hear how the Supreme Court rules on Healthcare Reform, but much more than the mandates of that law drives the reasons we are recruiting more physicians and mid-levels. And when you consider how to recruit them, you cannot underestimate the impact of the arrival of Generation Y in the workforce and the need for speed that comes with technology in the recruitment space.

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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