I’ve been a physician recruiter for nearly twenty years, and the most important thing I’ve learned during that time is that as a physician recruiter, you never stop learning. There’s no handbook for physician recruiting best practices or specific courses you can take while you’re in school to help you better understand the business, so you’ll need to get creative with the ways you gain knowledge.
Below are the top five pieces of advice I offer others who handle staffing for their healthcare organizations or practices when I’m mentoring.
- Understand relationships matter. Recruiting is a people business, so the relationships you build with others are incredibly important. The working relationships you have with your coworkers, the c-suite executives at your company, your physicians or locum tenens agencies all center around the common goal of getting the right physician or advanced practitioner in front of patients. Each relationship is a unique puzzle piece. It’s helpful to build a solid relationship foundation with everyone you work with by keeping everyone in the loop during the process of selecting the right candidate. As a recruiter, you’re spinning a lot of plates, so understand that if you aren’t putting the work into building and maintaining relationships with everyone involved and instigating conversations when necessary, it will be much more difficult to be successful.
- Learn the language. In the field of physician recruiting, education is essential. But unfortunately, as I mentioned, you can’t quite learn the ins and outs of your job in a traditional way. Not many people go to school to become a physician recruiter. There aren’t necessarily formalized courses or books on the topic. The education it takes to be successful as a physician recruiter is much more self-driven. Utilize the relationships you build with others who are involved in the staffing process, such as department chairs and medical directors, to gain a better understanding of the specialties you’re staffing. If you aren’t always seeking knowledge, you won’t be able to speak clearly and coherently to candidates, and you won’t be able to build their trust or your reputation and credibility. Knowledge about the medical industry and different specialties comes with time and an inquisitive nature. I also highly recommend physician recruiters seek out a mentor from an outside organization like the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) or one of their regional affiliates. The job requires you to move quickly, and there are a lot of moving parts. It can be overwhelming without a guide.
- Gain trust and credibility though professionalism. As a physician recruiter, your goal should be to become the go-to person in your organization who can answer the questions that no one else can. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with high-level executives at your organization, so you want to make sure you’re always prepared to offer quality advice, accurate data and pertinent information. When you are prepared, it will help build reliability and trust. Not only do you need to be able to educate yourself, but you’ll need to be able to educate back out into the organization.
- Think outside of the box. Physician recruiting challenges you to use all your skills, and in order to be successful, you’ll have to get creative. Build an arsenal of tools you can utilize when you need unique solutions. Working with locum tenens agencies is part of my arsenal. Patients can become frustrated when their provider leaves, whether it’s just for a short while or for an extended period of time, so it’s always important to ensure you’re prepared with someone new in place who is able to provide high-quality services and is a good fit for the job. Locum tenens recruiters can help you make that happen while ensuring patient satisfaction. However, you’ll also need to remain positive when things don’t work out with a physician the way you hoped. Being successful in the business means understanding and going with the ebbs and flows of the job. You’re bound to encounter frustrations from time to time, but it’s exhilarating when you match the right physician with the right position.
- Never stop learning. I can’t emphasize the importance of education enough. Recognize what you don’t know, and then do something about it. As a physician recruiter, you will never stop learning. The industry is constantly evolving, so understanding how and where to seek out information outside of your relationships and the organization you work for is invaluable. I highly recommend all recruiters get involved with recruitment groups, associations and societies. Becoming a member of the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) is an excellent first step. As a member, you’ll have access to resources, conferences and webinars and the ability to network with other members. I also advise recruiters seek out smaller, regional recruitment groups. For example, I serve as President of the Mid-Atlantic Physician Recruiter Alliance, Inc. (MAPRA), an affiliate association of AAPPR. This and similar organizations offer other opportunities to network and find a mentor.
Steve Jacobs is a veteran physician recruiter with over six years’ experience as an outside recruiter and 12 years’ experience as an in-house recruiter. He is currently the Sr. Physician Recruiter for Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, PA. Einstein is a three-hospital system in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties with just under 1,000 beds, 11 outpatient centers and 42 primary care locations. Einstein is the largest independent academic training institution in Philadelphia with over 32 ACGME accredited programs and over 440 residents and fellows. Steve also currently serves as the President of the Mid-Atlantic Physician Recruiters Alliance, a six-state and DC regional affiliate of AAPPR. He has been a member of APPRR since 2008, having served as co-chair of their fellowship committee. He also helped design and redesign the fellowship certification course for AAPPR. Steve has contributed articles and has spoken nationally on the topic of social media recruitment, most notably in ROAR, at AAPPR in Los Angeles and New Orleans, PracticeMatch Conference in New Orleans and MRRN. He recently published a ROAR article on IMG recruiting in the Spring 2019 issue. Steve has been married to his wife Laura for the past 19 years and has three children. He enjoys refereeing youth and adult soccer in his spare time.