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Guide to Developing a Strategic Physician Recruitment Plan

Adaptive Medical Partners | Healthcare Administrators, Healthcare News

Guide to Developing a Strategic Physician Recruitment Plan

You can’t escape physician turnover, and an increasing demand for services combined with a nationwide shortage of physicians creates a challenging recruitment environment. If you don’t have a robust strategy for filling your talent pipeline and retaining them as long as possible, you’re setting yourself up for an understaffing situation.

The time that you dedicate to filling a vacant physician position results in lost revenue. You can reduce the disruptions in patient care and your cash flow with a strategic physician recruitment plan.

Conduct a Physician Needs Analysis and Community Needs Assessment

Your first step is bringing in an outside party to conduct a physician needs analysis. This process expands your understanding and shows you the types of physicians that you need for your hospital and organization. This analysis also helps you stay in compliance with Stark regulations. You should conduct a CNA every two to three years so you can adapt to your community’s changing physician needs over time. Surveys and live interviews with your physicians, hospital administrators, community members, key employers and hospital board representatives provide useful insights for the CNA.

The hospital can offer incentives for physicians that are relocating their medical practice into its Geographic Service Area as long as you have objective and documented evidence indicating that the community needs that physician’s specialty. This incentive typically revolves around financial benefits. For example, the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program helps physicians pay off their medical school loans.

Remain Compliant With Stark Law

The Stark law stops hospitals from competing with each other through buying referrals. When you’re recruiting for physicians, you need to follow specific guidelines for the specialists you recruit and the incentive package you put together for them. Violations result in large penalties, so your first priority is staying compliance with this law.

Determine Organizational Goals and Needs

What are your hospital’s goals and needs in the short and long term? All of your recruitment decisions should revolve around a look forward at the next few months and years. Here are a few areas you should keep in mind during this part of the process.

Growth Plan

Are you in the process of expanding your hospital? What are you adding to your current list of specialties and wings?

Patient Needs

Are your patient outcomes meeting your expectations? Evaluate the physician-to-population ratio, how difficult it is to get physician referrals and the call coverage that’s necessary for your current physicians.


Are you having issues with patient retention? Are they dissatisfied with the care they receive at your practice and they’re looking elsewhere? Get to the bottom of this problem and determine whether you need to hire new physicians or expand into different specialties.

Succession Planning

Physicians leave healthcare organizations for many reasons. They may want to open up a practice of their own somewhere else, they reach retirement age, they want to change careers, or they encounter burnout. You can’t predict when your current physicians might choose to leave, but you can get a plan B together to compensate for these unexpected scenarios.

Keep a close eye on the average age of your physician pool so you don’t end up with a lot of people retiring at the same time and no plan in place. If you know you have a lot of people reaching retirement age, you can start filling your physician pipeline well in advance.

Turnover Rate

What’s the typical turnover rate among your physicians? How does it differ between specialties and departments? Try to isolate as many distinct causes for turnover so you can make recruitment strategy decisions based on this information.

Secure Organizational Approval

You need buy-in from everyone involved in the physician recruitment process. The top administrators, recruitment team, physicians and sometimes the C-suite should all be on board with your recruitment strategy.

Recruit and Hire Physicians Who Fit

You need more than a physician that seems like a good fit on paper. You need people who truly fit in with your healthcare organization’s culture and mission. They also need to care about the community and the well-being of the residents in the area. They’re not just relocating for a job. They’re coming to a place to call home, and it should be an area that supports their personal life.

It’s important to start with a physician who has the right qualifications for the job, but you need to take the interview process one step further. They’re offering you the skills and talent that your organization needs, but does your practice and community work for their needs? Identify resources and benefits that are unique to your organization. You don’t know how many places are attempting to recruit this physician, so make sure that you’re selling them on the idea of your practice as much as they’re selling you on the idea of hiring them.

Measure Your Success and Optimize the Physician Recruitment Process

You have a lot of valuable data at your fingertips, and it will help you get a physician recruitment process that’s fine-tuned for your organization. Measure your successes and failures when it comes to recruiting physicians. This information allows you to see what parts of the strategy worked well, which could use improvement, and whether your recruits work out for the short or long term.

Here are a few metrics you should include in your reports:

  • Time to fill
  • Interviews to hire acceptance rate
  • Patient satisfaction scores
  • Physician retention over three and five years
  • Physician satisfaction
  • New and returning patients

The recruitment process for physicians isn’t an easy journey. Use this guide as the foundation for your physician recruitment efforts and fill your practice with the right people that you and the community need.