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President of The Association For Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment Discusses the Physician Shortage

Matt Davis | Guest Blog Post Series, Healthcare Administrators, Healthcare Information, Physician Recruiting, Physicians

Guest Blog Post Series #3

Today we visit with Frank Gallagher, Board Chair/President of the Association For Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (formerly ASPR) as well as a Senior Physician Recruiter with Christiana Care Health System. In our visit with Frank, we get his take on the shortage as a recruiter with a large health system.

AMP: In your opinion, what are the top three factors contributing to the physician shortage?

Frank: This is an interesting question as, from my perspective, the physician shortage is perhaps the biggest issue impacting healthcare professionals today.  In no particular order, some of these factors include the rising cost to attend medical school and the subsequent debt burden it causes; which likely forces otherwise qualified individuals to forego medicine as a career choice.  There is also a growing body of evidence out there related to the increases in physician stress, burnout, and overall job dissatisfaction that is likely limiting our physician candidate pool.  As we know, our country also has a growing, aging population of people who require more (and complex) care — unfortunately, this is not offset by appropriate increases in medical school enrollments and/or residency capacities. 

AMP: What is the most innovative move you have seen an administrator, in-house recruiter or head of HR take to combat the shortage?

Frank: Well, I’m not sure how innovative these initiatives are any longer as most health systems have certainly increased utilization of advanced practice professionals along with its telemedicine capabilities.  Here at Christiana Care Health System, we’re excited about the ongoing institution of team-based work models across our primary care network which will provide not only the appropriate level of care to patients but allow our physicians to oversee a larger panel size.  

AMP: Are there any measures that the state or federal governments can take to ease the physician shortage?

Frank: Given the debt burden cited above, I think most solutions come down to dollars – that is, what can be done to reduce the cost of attaining a medical school degree.  I speak with physicians all the time, many of whom ask about available loan forgiveness programs, particularly those planing to work in primary care.  In many cases, these physicians will make their job decisions on who will provide the most loan repayment. 

AMP: We know retention is important. What are some innovative and unique measures you have seen put in place to retain facilities current physician staff?

Frank: In the past few years, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in the appreciation and understanding on everyone’s part related to the importance of retaining our best physicians.  If there are fewer physicians available, an obvious point is that health systems need to do all it can to retain its best and brightest.  With this in mind, we’ve seen a growing number of Onboarding Professionals who’ve been hired by hospitals and health systems to ensure that each newly-hired physician (and APC) have a smooth transition between the time they agree to join until the time they start — as you know, this period is often many months.  The goal is to keep newly-hired physicians engaged in their investment decision so as to positively impact their customer experience and ultimately retention.  We’ve recently instituted a similar program here at Christiana Care that has shown great results so far. However, any impact (and success) related to physician retention, especially over the long term, will need to be sponsored at the highest levels across any organization with sincere and intentional practices that are based in one’s culture as opposed to a series of transactional activities. 

AMP: In your opinion what are the best short-term strategies organizations could consider to manage their staffing during the shortage?

Frank: I prefer to take the long view on this one and once again emphasize the importance of retention. Having a formal onboarding and retention program with deliberate touch points certainly helps; at the same time, there is no replacement for treating physicians and other providers how you would like to be treated.

Frank’s Bio

Frank serves as a Senior Physician Recruiter at Christiana Care Health System, one of the country’s largest, non-profit health systems. CCHS was recognized as one of “America’s 100 Best Hospitals” by Healthgrades, selected as one of the Most Wired Hospitals in the US by the American Hospital Association, and ranked by US News & World Report as the #3 ‘Best Hospital’ in the Philadelphia region out of more than 90 hospitals.

Frank previously served as Director of Provider Recruitment at AtlantiCare, a winner of the 2009 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and southeastern New Jersey’s largest healthcare organization. In this role, Frank was responsible for the development and execution of strategies related to the recruitment and onboarding of physicians and APPs across the system.

Frank also worked as a Senior Recruiter and as Interim Director, Provider Recruitment for Baystate Health where he was responsible for the sourcing and hiring of physician faculty at Baystate Medical Center, the system’s academic medical center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In 2012, Frank was elected to the AAPPR Board of Directors and appointed VP of Governance where he led the association’s board restructure. He later served as President-Elect and is presently serving as Board Chair/President where he is responsible for leading the association’s first formalized strategic planning process. His prior experience included a term as President of the Academic In-House Recruiters (AIR) Network.

Frank began his physician recruitment career with Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania where he worked as a Physician Recruiter starting in 2004. Prior to his career in physician recruitment, Frank gained valuable experience in Human Resources as an HR Generalist and HR Manager, as well as a Corporate Recruiter.

Frank received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Temple University and earned a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Widener University.

Like Frank, we cannot stress the importance of retention enough and we truly appreciate him taking time to visit with us.

In fact, we feel this is one of the most overlooked recruiting strategies in the industry today. So much that we have built a guide around retention and we would love you to take advantage of it today.

Physician Recruitment and Retention. Download your free Physician Retention Guide today.