Brad Schmidt, MD, can remember recruiting hospitalists to the HM program at Dean Clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wis., seven years ago. He was a young doctor, just a couple of years removed from residency.
Back then, having Dr. Schmidt recruit hospitalists was a matter of necessity. He was the only hospitalist practicing at St. Mary’s. Today, hospitalists continue to be in charge of recruiting at Dean’s 18-physician HM department, but now it’s by design.
“It’s critical for hospitalists to get involved, because doctors being recruited want to be part of a team. They want to know how they would be contributing,” says Dr. Schmidt, who is the medical director of eight departments, including the HM department. “I also think it’s important for people to know who they are going to be working with.”
For hospitalists looking to advance their careers, being recruited by a group that heavily involves its own hospitalists in the process can provide an opportunity to get an in-depth look at the prospective job and community, observes Kenneth G. Simone, DO, FHM, founder and president of Hospitalist and Practice Solutions, a practice-management consultancy based in Veazie, Maine. At the same time, hospitalists who are active in recruitment efforts are helping their own pursuits, says Dr. Simone, a member of Team Hospitalist and author of several HM-centered books, including “Hospitalist Recruit-ment and Retention.”
It gives new meaning to the saying recruiting is a two-way street. In this case, it’s a two-way street to success if hospitalists at both ends of the recruitment process use the situation to their advantage.
If given the chance to interact with hospitalists at a potential job, a candidate should really pay attention to what the workday is like, Dr. Simone says. How is the workload? What kind of specialist support are the hospitalists getting? Are primary-care physicians (PCPs) referring patients to the group? Is there a good rapport with nursing staff?
“As a candidate, I should be asking why they are looking for a provider,” Dr. Simone says. “Is it growth? Is it turnover due to burnout?”
Having hospitalists engaged in the recruitment effort gives a candidate a great opportunity to ask questions he or she might not be comfortable asking of a director or hospital human resources personnel, Dr. Simone says. A candidate also gets a chance to observe the level of collegiality among prospective coworkers and gauge if the hospitalists are happy in the workplace and with the community.
—Kenneth G. Simone, DO, FHM, president, Hospitalist and Practice Solutions, Veazie, Maine, Team Hospitalist member
“They want to know that they are not just a cog in the wheel, not just a person filling a shift,” Dr. Schmidt explains. “By and large, they want to be part of a team.”
According to Drs. Simone and Schmidt, hospitalist job candidates should make an effort to:
- Ask potential colleagues to show them the local neighborhoods, services, and cultural and entertainment amenities;
- Get the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of the hospitalists to contact them with any follow-up questions after the interview and site visit; and
- Meet the group’s newest hospitalists, as they are the people who are in the best position to talk about the job transition.
A candidate’s goal is to gather enough information to determine if the job opportunity is the best fit for them and their family, Dr. Schmidt says. But candidates must remember that the time they spend and the conversations they share with the group’s hospitalists are still part of the interview process, Dr. Simone emphasizes. “If the person interviewing for a job has a lot of questions about vacation time and workload, that could send a signal that he or she doesn’t have a good work ethic,” he says.
Conversely, candidates should be wary of any program that doesn’t in some degree include their hospitalists in the recruitment process. It could mean that the group is trying to hide something, or that morale is so low that the hospitalists don’t want to promote the program. “I personally would be very uncomfortable not knowing who my partners would be,” Dr. Schmidt says.
Other red flags to look out for are constant references to the job’s competitive salary, which could indicate problems in other areas that the hospitalist practice is trying to mask, and no references to challenging issues the group is facing. If the group appears too good to be true, it probably is, Dr. Simone says.
Recruitment = Leadership
Hospitalists who get involved in their group’s recruitment efforts show their employer and supervisor that they are team players and care about the group and its future. It shows they are willing to help the program beyond providing patient care, and it demonstrates to both current and future employers that they have valuable professional characteristics and skills.
“Hospitalists who are good at recruiting show that they are a leader, a good communicator, and a positive person,” Dr. Simone says. “They can put this on a resume and give examples of what they did to help bring a quality provider to the team.”
When recruiting, be honest about the program’s strengths and weaknesses. “You want to avoid telling a candidate something a program is not,” Dr. Schmidt says. “You should be open about the program’s goals, workload, and expectations.”
Hospitalists who help in recruiting can frame the challenges a program is facing in a positive light. If an HM program is having trouble with, for example, a pulmonology group that is understaffed, the hospitalist recruiting candidates could explain the program is temporarily cross-covering patients at night until a new specialist can be found, Dr. Simone explains. He also notes it’s always best to place negatives into a context that shows the hospitalist group is working on a solution.
Getting engaged in recruiting also helps a hospitalist improve their current job by strengthening their team with good doctors who care about doing quality work, Drs. Schmidt and Simone say.
And that is more important than building a resume. TH
Lisa Ryan is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.