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July 2, 2021

How thorough is your site visit checklist?

When you bring in a physician for their first site visit to your facility, a personal and detailed plan is essential to finding the perfect fit.

Many factors go into site visit planning. It’s a vital step in the talent acquisition strategy to shine a light on your health care organization and your community. The best plans focus on the essential aspects before, during and after the site visit to ensure your visiting candidate knows they are an integral part of your process. Your approach should give them a fuller understanding of the opportunity, and help you earn a good reputation among your hired physicians - opening the door for them to refer colleagues for future openings in your organization.

If you would like your facility to increase its chance of being a candidate’s number-one choice, here are some before, during, and after site visit suggestions:

Before the site visit

Detailed itinerary - Avoid an itinerary that’s just a list of meetings, like:

9:00 AM - Tour of the hospital

10:00 AM - Tour of the community

Instead, create one with more detail on the areas they’ll be visiting and the key people with whom they’ll meet. For example:

9:00 AM - Tour of the Hospital

  • Administration Building with CEO John Smith
  • Medical-Surgical Floor with Nurse Administrator Dawn Jones
  • Outpatient Surgery with Dr. Andrea Carlos


Directions - Even though we are in the world of GPS, it’s still good practice to provide a set of directions. They’ll be especially useful if the phone battery dies, cellular service is lost or any other number of tech issues arise.

Community information - Provide an overview of your community, including its strongest amenities and features, and link to the Chamber of Commerce and other sites to help the candidate do any additional research.

Travel details - Instead of simply coordinating the travel, give the candidate as much detail as possible, such as flight choices and advice on the best times to fly. Also, specify how your organization reimburses travel expenses. Spell out what is reimbursable and what is not.

To make it less awkward, try turning it into a story. You can say, "I want to go over our policy on interview reimbursement." Then you can always go into a story about someone who may have gone too far to give this candidate some extra guidelines to follow, so there are no misunderstandings later.

Real estate agent - Help the candidate understand what is appropriate for real estate agent contacts. Should they contact someone or wait? Do you have a list of contacts? Does your organization partner with a Realtor for them to utilize?

Family/significant other - This may seem like an obvious detail to discuss. However, even the most seasoned recruiter can overlook some particulars for fear of prying. Depending upon how many people have been involved and how quickly the interview was organized, you may know very little or a lot about a candidate. It is crucial to find out who would possibly be relocating with the physician candidate.

Does your organization allow for a spouse or significant other to join them on the site visit? These are things that need to be discussed and planned. Suppose a significant other is involved in the site visit; then an equal amount of involvement must be placed on the significant other/spouse as well.

During the site visit

Welcome gift - Leave a hospitality gift in the hotel room or, if the room isn’t ready, at the front desk. It can be a basket of fruit with a note, something to snack on or something local like a gift card to a favorite community restaurant. For example, if you were traveling to St. Louis, you might include something with gooey butter cake and a gift card to a longtime local eatery.

Tours - Provide a tour of the hospital facilities and the office space the candidate would  use if hired. Remember to include these details on the itinerary and follow that schedule. If details have changed in any way, provide an updated version.

Community tour - Preplan the community tour to ensure you’re including the area’s best highlights. It is ideal that either you conduct the tour or have a realtor do the tour, but you accompany the tour to know what is being said or what kinds of questions the candidate is asking.

Lunch - Schedule a luncheon that includes key decision-makers in the hire.

Downtime - This is important but easy to overlook. Right after lunch, schedule downtime for about 90 minutes, if time allows. This gives the physician candidate a break after a possible long morning and festive lunch before reconvening for additional plans like community tour and dinner.

Dinner - Include a dinner with people who will be directly involved with the potential hire. Make it intimate -  just a few people, and include significant others if the candidate has a significant other and has brought them on the trip.

Day Two Musts - On the second day, schedule a recap with a couple of key stakeholders and then a formal meeting, if appropriate, with the decision-maker to go over the final pieces of the interview. If your process is longer - or you are part of a larger organization - make sure you, as the recruiter, end the site visit with a formal meeting to go over the next steps.

After the interview

Immediate follow-up - Follow up with an email to the candidate even while they’re still traveling home. Many candidates arrive home and go several days without having a recruiter follow up. Even if your message is a reminder of how long it could take to compile feedback and move forward with a decision, it’s essential to stay in touch about the process.

Physicians may leave the site visit thinking it went differently than it did, or someone in the discussion may have told them something that leaves a false impression. Just be sure to keep them informed of the process to help them from becoming frustrated.

Reimbursement - Reimburse the candidate for their interview expenses as soon as possible. This can indicate how quickly they’ll be taken care of as an employee.

Thank-you gift - Consider sending an appreciation gift - again, something local - with a note. I always recommend including a copy of the local newspaper and the hospital newsletter.

Keeping a site visit checklist in mind will offer your organization a shorter interview-to-hire rate. It will help you earn a reputation among your hired physicians and open a door for them to refer their colleagues for future openings in your organization.

Read PracticeLink articles from Michele Gutermuth.

Michele Gutermuth

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