Successful Physician Retention Must Start During Recruitment

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media , March 3, 2010

Connect with the family
An area where even marketers who don't assist with recruitment can get involved is connecting with the prospective physician's family. 

"That's where I think we fail a lot of times," Hill said. "We forget there's a spouse and children involved."

Once a physician has signed on, Hill suggests sending the family a welcome basket with a local Sunday paper, a phonebook, and information about area banks, insurance companies, and attorneys. It's also helpful to put them in touch with other physician spouses.

But the work doesn't end there—especially because 85% of the time family dissatisfaction influences a physician's decision to relocate, Hill said.

Wythe County Community Hospital holds one or two events per year targeting physician spouses and children.

Get the physician involved
Once your successfully recruited physician steps into your organization, he or she needs to feel part of the team. 

"Whatever you do, roll out the red carpet—there's only one first day," Hill said.

It's best to build specific relationships with new physicians during the first 120 days and share the organizational culture with them, rather than just sharing information.

"The more connected we can make them feel, the more satisfied they'll be," said Carrie Bennet, director of growth and physician services at LifePoint Hospitals in Brentwood, TN.

It's often helpful to arrange introductions with community leaders, medical staff, department directors, and top local employers, said Cherie Sibley, chief operating officer at Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma, AL.

"Advertising is not the number one thing I depend upon," Hill said. "I want the physician to meet people face-to-face."

Successful physician retention is a process that starts early and never ends. I think my aunt put it best when, after I finished my lengthy explanation, she said, "Wow, that's complicated."

Good thing hospital marketers are up for the challenge.

For more on the Physician Strategies Summit, visit the MarketShare blog or check out my Twitter account.

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