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January 12, 2022

How recruiters can help with workforce planning

Understanding your employer’s strategic growth plan and anticipating areas of enhancement through your manpower plan and community needs assessment helps you know how to prioritize your candidate searches and focus your sourcing and pipeline-building.

There are many factors in defining your recruitment strategy for the year:

  • How quickly is your community growing?
  • What are the ages of your physicians?
  • How many may be retiring?

These questions and others are very important to your recruitment plan. Putting together a comprehensive needs assessment will include not only physician to population ratios, but also a full diagnostic analysis of local demographics, population growth, deaths, procedures billed and knowledge of your current medical staff.

Step 1 - Analyze current staff

Your first step in creating a manpower plan is looking at your current medical staff. Knowing their retirement plans or whether they are happy and anticipating any changes can help you determine if you will need to recruit replacements.

It may also be a good idea to be aware of any physicians at other local hospitals. Knowing if you have three general surgeons who are reaching retirement age is beneficial to your organization’s planning, but knowing what is going on with the physicians the next block or town over is just as important.

Recruiting a specialist can sometimes take almost a year or more. Being aware of any changes well in advance can help you get a head start on the recruitment process. The Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) has a comprehensive Benchmarking Report that includes days-to-fill statistics and can be a powerful tool for your recruiting strategy.

Step 2 - Evaluate your location

Your next step will be to look at your population and service area. How has the population grown over the last year? More community members means potentially more doctors needed to satisfy the population growth - and not just in your town. Each hospital has a service area. Yours may be your entire county.

Also be sure to note demographic changes. For example, what is the average age of your community? If 50% are reaching middle age, it may be necessary to look at geriatric specialists or internal medicine physicians rather than pediatricians. You will also want to be aware of population-to-physician ratios and determine how many primary care physicians are needed for a given population.

Another area to look at is mortality in your population. I know this is morbid, but you need to be aware of causes of death. Are more people dying of cancer than heart issues? Maybe you need to look at adding more oncologists vs. cardiologists. Can your current oncologists handle the increasing numbers?

Step 3 - Align staff goals

It’s essential to know your organization’s mission, vision and culture when putting together your workforce plan, along with goals for diversity and inclusion.

Who is responsible for your organization’s manpower plan and community needs assessment? It can vary widely from organization to organization. Oftentimes it is human resources or the C-suite level leadership. Whoever it is, it’s helpful when physician relations and recruitment teams are involved - though that may not always be the case.

And not all organizations have a manpower plan. If your organization does not, it may be time to establish one! A good place to start would be the AAPPR Benchmarking Report.

As always, let us know if we can be of help in any way - and happy recruiting!


Sarah Armstrong is a Sale Representative at PracticeLink and has been with the company for 23 years. Prior to joining PracticeLink. Sarah spent 10 years as an in-house recruiter and was instrumental in organizing the Ohio recruiter’s group, which is now the Ohio Network of Physician Recruiters, and was elected the first President.

Read PracticeLink articles by Sarah Armstrong

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