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June 9, 2022

Hiring for those hard-to-recruit specialties

Not all physicians are alike. The same is true for how you recruit certain specialties.

Some specialties can be harder to fill because many organizations are trying to hire for the same position or because there aren’t enough candidates to fill all the openings.

Each quarter, PracticeLink publishes two lists to help physician recruiters gauge how to allocate time and energy in their recruitment efforts:

These quarterly indexes are based on the supply and demand of specialty jobs and specialists. The more jobs per candidate in the system, the more difficult recruiters may find the search for those specialties.

Take a look at the lists. Do they match with your experiences in recruiting these positions or others?

For the hard-to-fill positions you’re recruiting, there may be some additional work to be done to help your offer stand apart from the competition. This starts with making sure your salary is in line with - if not exceeding - expectations and others for that specialty and geographic location.

Next, there are traditional incentives to reconsider. Are you offering adequate or above-average medical benefits, paid leave, short- and long-term disability, retirement and malpractice insurance? Are there any adjustments that could be made to make the offer more appealing?

Studies like Merritt Hawkins’ 2020 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives can help you identify areas where your offers are in line with competitors - and opportunities to improve them or make additions.

Of the searches that were part of the 2020 study:

  • 72% of physician and advanced practice provider positions’ compensation involved salary plus a bonus.
  • Of those compensation packages with bonuses, 73% of the bonuses were relative value unit-based (RVUs) and 64% involved metrics of quality care. When quality was a factor in the production bonus, it determined about 11% of the total compensation.
  • 72% offered a signing bonus. Physician bonuses averaged just under $28,000, while APPs averaged about $8,500. These bonuses varied by specialty as well.
  • 97% of the searches included a relocation package. The average size was about $10,500 for physicians and $7,100 for APPs.
  • 96% included continuing medical education (CME). Averages were about $4,100 for physicians and $2,300 for APPs.

As you can see, incentives, signing bonuses, relocation assistance and CME allowances are commonplace in offers. Health insurance, malpractice insurance, retirement/401K programs and disability are also virtually standard. Not accounting for these areas could make your opportunity less attractive to candidates with multiple options.

One area the study revealed that may help organizations stand out is student loan forgiveness. According to the review, only 24% of searches included educational forgiveness. Of those that did, 67% came with a term of three or more years.

If your organization’s compensation and incentives are competitive, look for more unique perks that show your organization’s commitment to the candidate’s work/life balance and happiness in the role.

Give yourself an edge and use additional incentives to recruit hard-to-recruit specialties.

Work schedule

  • A flexible schedule that allows time to foster personal interests and tend to family obligations
  • Paid volunteer hours so physicians can find additional ways to help people in the community or abroad
  • Expanded maternity and paternity leave

Extra expense assistance

  • Travel account or company car
  • Cellphone and pager reimbursements
  • Journal subscriptions
  • Recertification and license fees

Community ties

  • Gym or club memberships
  • Season tickets to sports or cultural events
  • Local newspaper subscriptions

Facility enhancements

  • Hiring a medical scribe to help with paperwork
  • Offering complimentary professional support (like life coaching or counseling)
  • Lounge space where physicians and APPs can unwind, network and rest during any down time

Drew Terry

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