Too many group leaders make a big mistake by waiting many days to respond to new inquiries, or letting the recruiter handle all communication in advance of an interview. During the interview, be sure the candidate spends time with many of the current group members and provides contact information for every group member in case the candidate would like to call any who weren’t available on the interview day. Consider providing the candidate with a copy of the group schedule, any orientation documents you have, and other such printed materials to review after the visit.
Recruit specifically for short-term members of your practice. Despite concerns about turnover, I think it is reasonable to actively pursue candidates who may have as little as two years to work in your practice. For example, they may plan to move to another town (e.g., when their spouse finishes training) or start fellowship training. In my experience, at least half of new doctors who plan to be a hospitalist for only a year or two will choose to stay on long term.
If you want your classified ad to stand out, think about writing one that specifically targets short-term hospitalists. It could say something like: “Do you have only two years to work as a hospitalist? Then this is the place for you.” You even could add benefits, such as tuition to attend conferences that would be of value for the doctor regardless of their future specialty or practice setting. If you desperately need additional doctors, get creative in recruiting those who plan to stay with you for only a couple years. I’m confident some will end up staying long term.
Continue “recruiting” the doctors in your practice. For a number of reasons, hospitalist turnover may be higher than most other specialties. So it is particularly important to take steps to minimize it. SHM’s white paper on hospitalist career satisfaction (“A Challenge for a New Specialty: A White Paper on Hospitalist Career Satisfaction”) offers observations and valuable suggestions for any practice. Find it under the “Publications” link on SHM’s Web site, www. hospitalmedicine.org.
No End to Shortage
Now back to that panel discussion at SHM’s Annual Meeting in April. I asked the panelists what things would be like if in 10 years the demand for hospitalists decreased, and the supply finally caught up with and ultimately exceeded demand.
I thought this could be a provocative question that would lead to a discussion about how much of our current situation, such as recent increases in hospital financial support provided per hospitalist, are due to the current hospitalist shortage. Will hospitals decrease their support if there is ever an excess of hospitalists?
No one was buying it. Everyone was convinced that despite the incredible growth in numbers of doctors practicing as hospitalists, the demand for hospitalists will continue to grow even faster than the supply. Panelist Ron Greeno, MD, FCCP, chief medical officer of Cogent Healthcare in Irvine, Calif., thought this hospitalist shortage would continue throughout our lifetime. I’m not sure how long Ron thinks he (or I) will live, but that’s a pretty bold prediction.
It looks like the current intense recruiting environment is here to stay for a long time. Every practice should be thinking about how best to manage it. TH
Dr. Nelson has been a practicing hospitalist since 1988 and is co-founder and past president of SHM. He is a principal in Nelson/Flores Associates, a national hospitalist practice management consulting firm. He is also part of the faculty for SHM’s “Best Practices in Managing a Hospital Medicine Program” course. This column represents his views and is not intended to reflect an official position of SHM.