Relocation is an important aspect of physician recruitment.
We discuss relocation allowances, signing bonuses (that can assist with relocation), community tours and more during the recruitment process. These are tools used to help the physician decide whether your opportunity is the best fit for them and their family. After the physician signs the contract, the real work begins.
The period between the signing of the contract and beginning practice is critical. The physician received a taste of your culture during the recruitment process, but an organization’s true culture becomes evident after a contract has been signed. Therefore, many organizations have a formal onboarding program. Relocation responsibilities sometimes fall on the onboarding department, sometimes the recruiter, sometimes the individual department the physician is joining, and sometimes they fall solely on the physicians themselves.
Your organization made its first impression on the physician during the recruitment process. To maintain that positive first impression, here are a few items to keep in mind when assisting a new hire with their move:
This may not be their first move
The odds are good this is not your physician’s first move. They have had smaller moves from home to the dormitory for undergraduate school or maybe a move from a dorm to an apartment. They may have had to move again when starting medical school. The moves keep coming when they begin their training. Now they are moving from residency/fellowship or their current practice to your organization. With all these moves you may think they are an expert by now. However, this may be the first move with a spouse and children, so it could potentially be their first real move. I would suggest treating it as such and letting them know you are there to assist them through the process.
Being a physician is stressful even without the pressure of moving
Becoming a physician is challenging mentally and demanding on their time - countless late nights studying, early morning rounds, pressure to impress attendings, and on-call nights to name a few. This can lead to missed dinners, missed ballgames and recitals for their children, and less time to spend with family and friends. Even physicians already in practice have a demanding schedule and will miss out on these things. Adding the pressure of moving on top of this can be overwhelming for some. Any assistance you can provide will help to alleviate the load.
They may have two mortgages
Your hires are not only searching for a new home in your community, but they may also have to sell their current home to relocate. The prospect of having two mortgages can be frightening. Some organizations may be able to assist with this - others may not. Regardless of the physician’s compensation, this can be a large financial impact and a concern for your new hire. There may not be anything you can do about this, but just knowing this may be an issue helps you understand the physician better and improve their relocation experience.
As we know, the spouse and family are as important as the physician taking the opportunity. Many times, the logistics of the move may fall to the spouse because the physician may need to work right up until the move. In addition to their current position, they will be getting ready for their new one (licensure, privileges, credentialing, setting up their new practice, etc.). It is easy to forget this and focus solely on the physician. However, if the spouse works outside the home, they will be conducting their own job search, too. Be sure to acknowledge the spouse and provide them with contacts or point them in the right direction.
The entire family plays a role in a move. The decision is not just which home to purchase, but where. There are different communities, school districts, and access to activities (for children and adults). If there are children involved, this adds another level of stress as they may not want to change schools, leave behind friends, and so much more. Again, anything you can do to minimize any stress or help in making these decisions goes a long way. Introductions to families with children the same age or interested in the same activities can make the transition easier.
Once the move is complete, the physician and their family will still need assistance. They will not know many people in the community or where to go for child care, places of worship, a barber or hairdresser, or other important aspects. This is where you can step in and assist them. Introduce them to others in the medical community and provide them a list of important places in their area. It is easy to say, "They are adults, they can use an app or the internet to find what they need," but I think a good impression could be made by taking that extra step.
While the hard decisions and the actual move is still on the physician and family, by keeping the preceding in mind, you can greatly enhance their experience. As the person who recruited them, you may be their only contact in the area and the closest thing they have to a friend.
Physicians are highly intelligent and driven individuals. If they were not, they would not have succeeded in becoming a physician. To say they can successfully make the move without your help is an understatement. However, they are human like you and me. They have the same thoughts, fears and stressors. Being not only a resource but a friend to them during this transition can go a long way in helping them overcome any obstacles and ensure a successful move. The smoother their move - the easier it is for them to assimilate to the community and begin a successful practice.