Enhancing Physician Recruitment and Retention through Enculturation

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How do hospital administrators, department heads, and practice managers address the current physician shortage? One approach is to devote more attention to "enculturation" as part of the recruitment and retention efforts healthcare employers undertake, according to an article in the latest edition of the Jackson & Coker Industry Report (JCIR).

Enculturation--Key to Physician Recruitment and Retention.

How do hospital administrators, department heads, and practice managers address the current physician shortage? One approach is to devote more attention to "enculturation" as part of the recruitment and retention efforts healthcare employers undertake, according to an article in the latest edition of the Jackson & Coker Industry Report (JCIR).

Michael Hiffa, JD, serves as Vice President of Human Resources for Jackson Healthcare in Alpharetta, Ga. He and Calvin Bruce, Managing Editor of JCIR, co-authored an article entitled "Enculturation--Key to Physician Recruitment and Retention." They point out the critical importance of health care employers' devoting time and attention to determine whether there is a good "fit" of the physician with the practice environment during and following the employment process.

From their study of recruitment and retention issues discussed in a number of healthcare industry publications, they conclude that physicians are drawn to hospitals or practice groups that offer the kind of corporate culture in which they feel comfortable and choose to make a longstanding contribution.

"Like other professionals, doctors want to feel part of a dynamic work environment that exemplifies the values, ideals and professional objectives that they can identify with and fully support," Mr. Hiffa explains.
"Given the fact that most physicians have many employment options to consider, it is all the more important to attract them to a practice setting where they feel keenly linked to what the practice stands for and to what contributes to their sense of personal and professional satisfaction," Mr. Bruce adds.

There are practical benefits to health care employers, as the article explains. First of all, it's worthwhile during the interview process to take more time to discover what drives the physician's passion for practicing medicine--and relate that to the values and mission of the organization. A good match is likely to occur if both candidate and employer share a similar philosophy concerning the practice of medicine and an abiding commitment to make a difference in the lives of the community they serve, the authors point out.

In considering whether to join a hospital or medical group that seeks his services, the typical physician is concerned to find out key information such as:

  •     How patients are cared for
  •     How medical errors are prevented
  •     How patients' families are treated
  •     How "best practices" are evidenced.

One way to address this concern is for healthcare employers to convince the prospective hire that these considerations are of utmost importance. To accomplish this objective, the organization is challenged to define its unique "cultural personality." As an example, the medical group might emphasize its distinctiveness in terms of representing a culture of quality, culture of compassion, and culture of excellence.

The article also suggests implications for physician retention. In particular, doctors opt to continue their association with healthcare organizations that offer something that binds them together more than just providing patient care and earning a paycheck.

"When physicians feel a strong professional connection to the group, they are less likely to explore other career opportunities," notes Mr. Hiffa. "They are more likely to be content because their association with their current employer is reflective of mutual respect and support concerning matters of importance. That is to say, both parties recognize that it is in their best interest to maintain a longstanding relationship that is rewarding on many levels."

The co-authored article can be accessed at http://www.jacksoncoker.com/physician-career-resources/newsletters/2009-july.aspx

About Jackson & Coker

Headquartered in metro Atlanta, Ga., Jackson & Coker is a leader in the physician recruitment industry. With over 31 years of continuous business operations, the firm has earned a reputation for providing cost-effective, time-sensitive staffing solutions to both government and commercial health care organizations. The firm has two divisions: Retained Search, which places doctors in over 40 medical specialties in permanent opportunities, and Locum Tenens, which fills temporary vacancies.

Jackson & Coker has earned a "Gold Seal" designation as a "Certified Health Care Staffing Service" by the Joint Commission and is affiliated with a Credentials Verification Organization that has received certification by the NCQA in ten out of ten credentialing elements.

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Edward McEachern
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