Strategic Physician Recruiting Calls for Forecasting, Profiling

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media , April 4, 2012

Additionally, Trinity took a proactive approach to the hiring process. "We directed our department chiefs to make recruiting plans that looked out three to five years. That plan translates down into our annual recruiting plan for the organization," he explains. "It goes out a couple of years because you can't wait until the fiscal year to start thinking about your recruiting."

Getting ahead of the hospital's physician demand meant the organization could search for the best fit for the position and culture. The approach has yielded results and saved millions—the organization's current turnover rate is just 5%, nine percentage points lower than when the effort started.

Getting ahead of the physician need is essential and an integral part of the plan at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey, part of Atlantic Health. David Shulkin, MD, president at the 692-staffed-bed hospital and vice president of Atlantic Health, explains that his organization creates a medical staff strategic plan as part of the recruitment process.

The organization's department heads factor in the age of the physician, the specialty, and the demand for and potential growth of each service line, and then calculates the estimated number of medical vacancies. Those are the positions that the organization's six in-house recruiters strive to fill in advance of the need.

The data analysis is just one component of the process, Shulkin says. The organization does an annual review of its employment and compensation models to be sure these are in line with the national and regional norms. "I've run several different organizations and the one thing you learn when you move around is that each local market is different. There are some markets where the employment model is dominant and well-established, and other areas where another one is," says Shulkin.

In Morristown, he says, the independent practice prevails. "[Hospital] employment isn't dominant so we've worked hard to create a number of different alternatives to employment to help physicians feel comfortable and still be closely aligned with the system," he says. That can be through a professional service agreement, establishing an accountable care organization, helping the physicians form a single specialty group, or creating a joint venture. "Part of the skill involved in strategic recruiting is understanding the various modalities and choices available when addressing the needs of the physicians," adds Shulkin.

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