Even before the pandemic altered the physician employment landscape, experienced physicians and medical program directors seemed unanimous in one bit of advice to job-seeking residents and fellows: Start sooner than you think you should.
"I always say earlier is better, but with the pandemic, even more so," says Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, M.D., fellowship training program director of allergy and immunology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
It makes sense to respond to this challenging situation proactively, and there’s much physicians can do to ensure they launch an effective search - even in advance of applying and interviewing. Yet there is one thing they have no control over: the timing of organizational recruiting.
As an in-house recruiter, your goals are determined by larger organizational imperatives. You may not control the timing of your search initiatives, either - and the situation likely varies by specialty. But there may be steps you can take to help physicians who are starting career planning earlier.
Share as much information as possible
One step that could help candidates is for your organization to publish more information about practice culture and models of care.
Alexandra Ristow, M.D., a primary care physician in Tampa, recalls that she had learned enough from colleagues in her residency to know she was looking for a different primary care model than conventional fee-for-service. But when she went to the internet to look for potential employers, it was hard to find any information that identified organizations using the team-based approach she was eager to try.
"I tried searching ’innovative primary care’ and ’team-based model’ to see if anyone had identified themselves that way," but she found few results.
Perhaps this is not surprising, since practice websites typically aim at patients more than prospective hires, and patients may be confused by terms like "patient-centered medical home" or "value-based care." Not publicizing these kinds of clinical philosophies and structures may be keeping your organization’s brightest recruitment light under a bushel, however. As a result, you may not be connecting with candidates at all levels of experience who have the best chance of fitting in well and being excited about your mission.
Many organizations feel a heightened need to know their physician teams are committed to the mission and willing to pivot if changes in utilization demands it. This suggests hiring for fit is more important than ever, yet mistakes on both the employer and employee’s part are not uncommon.
Physicians who found they’d accepted a job that wasn’t right for them often report that they weren’t encouraged to talk to enough people who could tell them what the culture was like for doctors.
"I think a lot of times physicians don’t take the time to chat with other employees of the practice or the company," says Brooke Grant Jeffy, M.D., a dermatologist in the Phoenix area. "Looking back, I’ve had some experiences that have led me to conclude this was the most important step when you come out of training and you’re looking for your first job. Employers who want to have a good relationship and keep the employee long term should offer that up."
Encourage open, on-going communication
Along the same lines, in-house recruiters might consider making it easier for candidates to inquire earlier and stay in touch, even when no job is technically open yet. Physicians who are soon to graduate may be reluctant to inquire about working with your organization if they don’t see a posting inviting them to apply. By alleviating concerns about "bothering" you with an unwanted application, a channel that lets physicians express their interest while making clear your needs are not yet firm can help ensure you don’t miss out on a candidate who could be an ideal fit.