The following comes from Jeffrey Sisk, President/CEO of PhysicianWork.com
I have had the opportunity to talk with a large number of physician recruiters over the last few weeks about the state of the physician recruiting industry as a whole. These recruiters are from hospitals, health systems, medical practices, permanent placement firms and locum tenens companies, and some of their feedback has been very insightful. I thought I’d share some of this information with you because it is thought provoking and gives each of us a clearer picture of the current physician recruiting environment. I think it is important to share this type of information with the physician recruiters in our network.
If you are recruiting permanent physicians, this is one of the more difficult recruiting environments we have ever seen. Many physicians are afraid to consider changing jobs for a variety of reasons that are all related to the current economic state of our country. Some of the specific reasons mentioned to me recently are: It is very difficult to sell your home in the current real estate market at a fair price. Home values are way down and it’s a buyer’s market. If you are lucky and can sell your home you will have difficulties getting a new home loan because banks aren’t lending money; especially for jumbo home loans on larger homes and physicians typically purchase a home in this category. Also, physicians, just like many Americans, have seen their savings and retirement accounts shrink considerably because of the drop in stock prices so they feel that their financial “safety net” is no longer there. Overall, there is a lot of uncertainty about the future, so even if a physician isn’t happy in his or her current job, they are more likely to stick it out in their present position until things get better.
Additionally, many physicians (especially primary care and non hospital based specialties) are reporting drops in the number of patients scheduling office visits and elective procedures. Consumers have slowed down routine medical care and are seeking treatment only when they are sick. Consequently, many medical practices have stopped growing and therefore do not need to recruit additional physicians. In some cases, practices already have “one physician too many” in the practice. There is apparently a stable demand for hospital based specialties at the present time because hospitals treat sick patients, so recruiting needs in these areas should continue to be strong.
The shining star in the current market would be for the locum tenens physician, and locum tenens companies. Facilities that are desperate to recruit a permanent physician are turning to locums to fill the gaps in their recruiting needs until they can find a more permanent solution. My advice to any physician who loses his or her job in this economic climate would be to work locums for a while until things improve. These jobs will be easier to find, you don’t have to sell your home to work locums (they will put you up in a hotel and provide a rental car in most cases), and the locum tenens company is picking up your malpractice costs. If you are a medical practice, hospital or health system with critical recruiting needs, you may want to consider utilizing locum tenens physicians to fill your needs for the near future. In some cases you may find a permanent hire and this is a good way to find out if a physician is “a good fit” with your practice because you get to see them in action before you hire them permanently. Keep in mind though that many locums physicians are working locums because they are not interested in a permanent job, so they may only be a temporary solution for you until the economy recovers.
This is the bottom line for physician recruiters based on the information coming in to us here at PhysicianWork: The current candidate pool of physicians is greatly reduced as compared to previous years. In this economic climate you’re not going to be covered up with stacks of CV’s from any recruitment advertising resource you are using. Candidate response rates will be low or moderate for most specialties and you will have to be patient with your advertising programs. The key here would be to use as many recruiting resources as possible, and do not have unreal expectations of these resources. In other words, if you are using a known national physician recruiting resource, you shouldn’t terminate these ad programs because you aren’t getting the large number of candidate responses that you have in the past. Stay diligent with these programs because they are the ones most likely to produce viable candidates for your company. If you stop using good national resources that you know have traditionally produced results, then you will further isolate your company’s visibility to an already reduced candidate pool. Most of the good national physician recruiting resources will produce results, but it takes more time and you have to be patient.
So, where is the market headed? At the present time, not even “the experts” can tell us when things will turn around with our economy, the real estate and financial markets. So, physician recruitment will continue to be more difficult in the near term than it has been in the past.