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Recruiting, Retaining Physicians Requires Finesse

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, February 28, 2013

Team oriented. Tech savvy. Quality-driven.

Those are just some of the key characteristics that hospitals and physician groups want to find in the doctors they recruit, says Jim Stone, president of The Medicus Firm, a physician search firm in Dallas, TX. Beyond that, there are practical and emotional considerations: How do the physicians manage stress? How far would they be willing to move?

In the meantime, employers might consider offering signing bonuses and/or relocation allowances. Will they truly "welcome" the potential candidate?  And for physicians, are would-be employers allowing a flexible schedule and making their family fit into the overall employment plan? Is a balanced life possible?

A false move by either party can result in no deal.

Over the last several years, recruiting and retaining have been challenging, especially with uncertain economic conditions. Experts say it's unlikely to get easier soon: A national physician shortage, coupled with restrictive regulations and reimbursement cutbacks, could spell trouble if hospitals and physician groups don't embrace innovative strategies to recruit and retain physicians.

It's not like physicians are exactly in the driver's seat, either. A great clinician who has terrible bedside manner or is uncooperative with colleagues isn't likely to get the job, despite his or her sparkling resume. Behavioral issues weigh more heavily with employers these days.

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