In the film "L.A. Story," Steve Martin famously said, "There’s someone out there for everyone - even if you need a pickaxe, a compass and night goggles to find them."
For recruiters, it may take equal effort to attract physicians who grew up in your area but for a host of reasons are practicing elsewhere. Here are four tips to hook ’em.
1. Look for the connections
Amanda Mooneyham, M.D., mph, grew up in Redding, California. After graduating from UC Davis School of Medicine, she returned to her hometown, where her parents and brother still live, to do her residency and practice medicine.
Physicians who grew up in small towns may want to return to serve their communities - but may not know all the opportunities available.
Target residents in your state’s rural medicine programs, and reach out to those in neighboring states as well. Call residency program coordinators to let them know you’re recruiting, and provide them with all the information they’d need to pass on to potential candidates.
Don’t just limit your search to those who grew up in your area. What about those who attended nearby colleges?
2. Remind them of the benefits of your area
Instead of just focusing on the allure of a hometown return, make your pitch focused on the quality of life your area offers. Highlight the outdoor activities, proximity to landmarks, school performance or other attractive qualities. Selling the benefits, not just the familial ties, will make your area more attractive to the entire family.
3. Offer a financial incentive
After years of being away from family and friends due to med school and residency, Drew Schmucker, M.D., joined a family practice in his hometown of Olney, Illinois, working at Carle Richland Memorial Hospital’s new primary care clinic.
Schmucker completed his training through the hospital’s assistance program for medical students.
Apart from financial incentives, recruiters may also want to be prepared to address questions about broad experience and adequate call coverage.
Schmucker says going home allowed him the broader scope of practice he wanted, doing both inpatient and outpatient medicine as well as OB. And, he says he has a great group of doctors with whom to share call, which was an initial concern.
4. Explore a passion for public service
More than 60 million Americans live in rural and frontier communities, according to the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. And yet the number of physicians are sparse in those communities.
J. Scott Litton, Jr., M.D., returned to his hometown of Pennington Gap, Virginia, (population 1,749) to open a solo family practice that just celebrated its 15th anniversary. Litton says his experience allowed him "to see how a small-town family physician can connect with patients and truly have an impact on modifying their lifestyle behavior and medical outcomes."
Many physicians enter the medical field because they want to help people. Recruiters may want to explore that passion to determine if practicing in a small town can help physicians satisfy that desire.