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April 1, 2021

Creating a positive physician candidate experience

In today’s competitive provider employment market, it is crucial for employers to set themselves apart during the recruitment phase. As they say: There is never a second chance to make a first impression!

The same holds true for prospective employers in a physician job search.

For organizations that wish to stand apart, consider the interactions during the entire recruitment and hiring process. This begins with initial contact (both outbound sourcing and responding to applicants), when it is best to convey an engaging style during the sourcing phase.

As a provider transitions from an initial lead to an applicant to a candidate, try to understand their communication preference (email, text or phone call) at each stage of the process. When using email, it is always a good practice to use an updated subject line that is informative and to the point. (Example - Update Regarding Application, Onsite Visit Planning - Airline Preference, etc.)


Planning the ideal site visit

The site visit is the time to roll out the red carpet. Consider the travel logistics, ask about airport preferences and consider avoiding airports with known flight connection or delay issues. Be sure you have a clear understanding if they wish to rent a car when they arrive and, if so, whether they want GPS. Do they prefer to take a taxi or ride-share, or should you personally pick them up from the airport?

Planning a candidate’s travel and site visits based on their preferences will create a positive experience.

When it comes to accommodations, what type of lodging does the provider prefer (suburban, city, etc.)? Get to know your local properties and establish a relationship. You should be invited to tour hotel rooms and amenities when selecting a lodging partner, and consider services available such as dining for late-night arrivals. Does the hotel operator understand the recruitment objective, and will they partner with you to upgrade guests to premium rooms or floors? Perhaps a gift basket featuring local snacks and a handwritten welcome card will set the tone.

Developing an effective itinerary for a site visit is like putting together a puzzle. Be sure you ask the candidate if there are specific departments or individuals they would like to meet as part of their exploration. At times, you may need to be persuasive with the stakeholder’s calendars, and once again, developing relationships with the gatekeepers goes a long way in doing so.

Preparing the internal interview team and practice is essential to success. Prior to the interview, invest time in helping them understand their role, appropriate questions and topics to cover - and the questions that are not appropriate to cover. In addition, you should provide an interview resource guide that gives sample motivational-based questions, as well as sample questions a candidate might ask the group.

Community ambassadors are essential for a candidate who does not know the area well. Many areas have relocation specialists, local economic development or chamber of commerce representatives, or trusted Realtors who might have a tie to the employer (board membership, etc). Again, spend time upfront developing a relationship so you can have clear expectations and they understand your objective. They essentially will be an extension of your team!

Be thoughtful when planning meals. First, you should understand if the candidate has any dietary requirements or preferences. Build in time for breaks during the day for refreshments. If doing a group meal, consider the number of attendees. Typically, a group between four to eight guests is optimal. More than that can be overwhelming.


Post-site visit

To extend the red-carpet experience after the site visit, be clear with the candidate about the next steps. Remain committed to communication with the candidate and give them frequent status updates. This also relates to the offer, contracting and onboarding phases. Thoughtful organizations have streamlined onboarding processes to eliminate duplicate inquiries about demographic data and forms, and manage the needs of many internal departments (HR, Medical Staff Office, Payer Enrollment Office, Marketing Department, etc.).


Welcoming to the team

Plan a thoughtful orientation process and practice development activities. For example, primary care marketing often has more of a consumer approach, while specialty care marketing often is targeted toward referral sources and other members of the medical staff. Consider a rich marketing plan to share with the new provider early on so they know of the efforts and can help personalize their materials.

Welcome your candidates and make them feel like part of the team.

The red-carpet experience does not end with orientation. Evaluate having a formal mentorship program for new hires. This may involve partnering them with a provider of a like specialty, but outside of their day-to-day practice, to meet with about professional development and offer them support. Also set formal check-in dates with practice leaders (45 days) and medical directors (90 days) to understand what is going well and what needs to be improved.

As the provider settles into the practice and community, they become a good source for future candidates. If the conditions for them have been optimal after the initial six to 12 months, it is appropriate to ask them for referrals and connections to their networks.



Tom Farrington has been the Director of Physician & Provider Services with Franciscan Health since 2012. Franciscan Health is an integrated health delivery system service Indiana and Illinois. In his role he provides oversight for the provider recruitment, hiring, credentialing and onboarding processes. Prior to Franciscan, Tom had experience in Hospital Operations Management, Marketing and Public Relations, and Physician Recruitment. He grew up in Indianapolis and attended Ball State University for undergraduate and Indiana Wesleyan University for his master’s degree. Tom enjoys working with physicians and advanced practice providers to assist with their career path plan and to help them land in a role where they support our communities.

Roll out the red carpet for new candidates you hope to recruit.

Tom Farrington, MS, FASPR

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