Physician Recruiters Say Doctor Shortage is Changing Their Approach

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LocumTenens.com survey says orthopedic surgeons, psychiatrists hardest to recruit.

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Our physician recruiter survey results document what we've heard from physicians in recent years about the growing importance of lifestyle factors in choosing medical practice opportunities

- Healthcare facility physician recruiters responding to 2008 LocumTenens.com Physician Recruiting & Retention Survey generally confirm there is a doctor shortage that is changing healthcare organizations' methods of securing enough physicians to staff their facilities. When asked whether the shortage has changed their approach to physician recruitment, almost two-thirds of respondents (63%) said "yes".

"Our physician recruiter survey results document what we've heard from physicians in recent years about the growing importance of lifestyle factors in choosing medical practice opportunities," LocumTenens.com Senior Vice President Pamela McKemie said. "For example, 79 percent of this year's respondents said their organizations offer physicians some type of job flexibility to assist with recruitment efforts."

The physician recruitment firm's survey results indicate that 30 percent of survey respondents' organizations offer physicians part-time hours, while 25 percent hire additional physicians to cover staff on-call or weekend coverage, 12 percent offer flex-time and 12 percent offer a variation on the above. More than two-thirds of physician recruiter respondents (68%) said that 70 percent or more of the decision to relocate rested with the physician's family or spouse. (For an overview of the survey results, visit http://www.locumtenens.com/RecruiterSurvey08.)

Recruiting Agencies More Important:
Physician recruiters' open-ended comments regarding how their approaches have changed in light of the doctor shortage conveyed themes of

  • Working with more resident/fellowship programs
  • Shifting more promotional dollars to online venues
  • Working more often with locum tenens agencies and contingency or retained search firms
  • Attending more conferences, job fairs and specialty-specific meetings

The emerging trend from the firm's 2008 physician recruiter survey results is the increasing use of agencies as a critical piece of the physician recruitment puzzle. This year's respondents ranked "physician recruiting agencies" as the third-most-effective tool in their recruitment campaigns, raising it from a fifth-place ranking by 2007 survey participants and a seventh-place ranking in 2006.

Again this year the physician recruiting firm's survey results indicate a marked preference for online recruiting, with "online physician job boards" topping the list of most effective physician recruitment tools. "Networking", which ranked second-most-effective among 2008 physician recruiter respondents, has consistently placed as one of the top two most effective recruiting tools (alternating with online job boards) since LocumTenens.com first surveyed healthcare facility recruiters in summer 2005.

Shifting Specialty Challenges:
For the third year, orthopedic surgeons top the list of physicians who are hardest to recruit, according to physician recruiter survey results. However, the "top five" list of hardest-to-recruit specialists changed significantly from there based on 2008 LocumTenens.com survey results.

Filling out the top five hardest-to-recruit specialists for 2008 (after orthopedic surgery, selected by 25% of respondents) were psychiatrists (10%), family practitioners (8%), hospitalists (7.7%) and internists (7%). Cardiologists, which physician recruiter survey respondents have ranked second-hardest-to-recruit in each of the past three years' surveys, dropped out of the top five to a three-way tie for sixth-most-difficult to recruit, along with neurology and obstetrics/gynecology.

In late spring 2008 LocumTenens.com received 135 responses to its survey from healthcare facility physician recruiters, almost half (48%) of whom worked for hospitals and 34 percent of whom worked for health systems. Forty-four percent of respondents were employed by small-city or suburban healthcare facilities, compared to 30 percent from rural facilities (in areas with fewer than 50,000 residents) and 26 percent were from major metropolitan facilities (in areas with more than 250,000 residents).

Founded in 1995, LocumTenens.com is a full-service physician/CRNA recruiting firm specializing in anesthesiology jobs, cardiology jobs, psychiatry jobs, radiology jobs, surgery jobs and CRNA jobs with U.S. hospitals, medical groups and community health centers. LocumTenens.com is part of the Jackson Healthcare family of companies. To learn more, visit http://www.locumtenens.com/welcome.

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Billie Wickstrom
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