Finding a place they’ll love doesn’t always happen right off the bat for physicians, despite their best efforts when job searching. The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) says the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported in 2020 that the health care industry then was seeing a turnover rate of about 6 to 7 percent annually, which means that about 50,000 or more physicians move each year, presumably in search of a community or lifestyle that is a better fit.
Of course, everyone wants physicians to stay put long-term. Employers want it, recruiters want it, and, most importantly, physicians want it. After all, who wants to live and work somewhere that you don’t feel you belong, or where you simply aren’t happy?!
So what can you do to help guide physicians to choose a job and community that they’ll love, now and into the future?
Help them get clear about what they want
"What would make us the happiest?" is the question that Buffalo, New York, plastic surgeon Jordan Frey, M.D., and his wife, Selenid Gonzalez-Frey, asked themselves as they were deciding where to put down roots.
Mark Siwiec is a real estate agent and broker associate with Keller Williams Realty. He helps place 10 to 15 relocating physicians a year in homes in the Rochester, New York area, for Rochester Regional Health, a major health care system there. Siwiec’s process starts by having a phone conversation with the physician and/or their trailing spouse to find out who they are, what their life is like, what activities they might be interested in, and whether they have children, he says. The answers to these questions help him determine potential location fits.
Zero in on potential locations
Physician recruiter Robert “Bob” Bregant, Jr., fache, president of Steele Healthcare Solutions, LLc, in Overland Park, Kansas, and a member of the National Association of Physician Recruiters (napr), says that for the vast majority of physicians looking for a new job, "location is always number one," in terms of a priority or starting point. Job hunters tend to fall into three categories, he says: Those who want to stay where they did their residency, those who want to move to be closer to family, and those who are up for an adventure, anywhere.
Size up school districts
Siwiec has found that if relocating physicians have children, the housing decision "is all about the school district." Setting up phone calls for the parents with school district representatives, from the superintendent or teachers, can help the family begin to assess school fit for their children.
Encourage candidates to spend time in the area
Part of selling physicians on the Rochester area frequently involves Siwiec showing them local landmarks, which almost always include the Wegmans flagship grocery store, as well as health clubs, museums, golf clubs, downtown theaters and art galleries, he says.
James Griffith, M.D., a dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners in Kansas City, Kansas, and his wife invested time exploring their city before deciding to move there. That involved checking out local restaurants, parks, and even rooting for the Kansas City Royals at a baseball game, where they struck up conversations with strangers to get a sense of how friendly and open the neighbors were. They quickly felt right at home.
Schedule face-to-face contact
Although online research can be valuable for information gathering, it’s hard to get a true sense for a community or workplace from afar. Griffith set up Zoom calls with potential colleagues, and then made a point to connect with as many people as possible once he was on site.
Similarly, when Reyzan Shali, M.D., an internal medicine and primary care physician with Tri-City Primary Care in the San Diego area, visited potential employers in person, she says, "I was looking for how I felt in the clinic - meaning the energy, basically." She paid close attention to whether people looked upbeat and smiling, or if they walked around with hunched shoulders, looking "deflated." She wanted an environment that would be uplifting and positive. You can advise physicians to do the same during their visits.
Finding a place physicians will love is easier when they stop to really think through what their ideal life would look like, including where they want to be living, what their work schedule would look like, and what they’d be doing when they aren’t working. If they can picture that, you can help them design a life they’ll love.
Marcia Layton Turner