This episode of the MGMA Business Solutions podcast features Rachelle Daugherty, MPH, chief executive for Provider Solutions and Development (PS&D), a not-for-profit company providing staffing solutions to a range of healthcare organizations. PS&D has specialized in helping its partners find candidates for medical practices in remote locations in the Western United States.
Recruiting medical professionals in the post-pandemic environment has become an even more complex task, as salary and compensation expectations have combined with labor shortages and a changing approach to in-person, on-site employment. Daugherty spoke to MGMA Sr. Editor Daniel Williams on the challenges in recruiting and retaining physicians and other healthcare professionals, especially in rural environments.
Editor’s note: The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What are some of the best practices in the hiring process? Where do you see medical groups finding success?
A: I think it’s really important to remember, especially when the supply and demand is so off-kilter, that it’s incredibly tempting for our practices to look at the first person who shows a modicum of interest and try to fill the role there. I think that’s really short-sighted. We ended up seeing what happens there – turnover, whether involuntary or voluntary – and that turnover costs more. So, I believe one of the best practices is really knowing what you’re looking for, from a practice perspective, as well as a cultural fit perspective—and not doing what is tempting to do, which is hire whoever is licensed and available, without doing your due diligence.
The other aspect is that when you bring a candidate out for a site visit, you’re really recruiting their entire family. During those visits and interviews, it is as important to ensure that the partner and their family have their questions and concerns answered. These can include community faith systems, schooling or other types of available jobs and employment.
The last piece is internal referral sources. Your practicing physicians and APCs have great networks, whether it be from where they trained or through former employers. I think most of the groups we work with leave this candidate pool completely untapped. Sometimes something as easy as a quarterly email prompt is enough to keep those referrals flowing. The plus side with internal referrals is that often these candidates already come with a sense of the values and missions and have a connection, which greatly helps with attraction and retention.
Q: What are some tips, tools and tricks to build a compensation package? What are people looking for right now?
A: We used to have doctors who tended to be very satisfied with the status quo of work RVU. However, what we’re seeing more and more, especially in the post-COVID exodus, are doctors who ask, “How do we get off this hamster wheel and start moving towards what we were inspired to do when we went into medicine?” That shift from work RVU to value-based modeling is something we’re hearing is a big need on both sides. If you are still paying purely on production, I would consider shifting that, especially if you’re looking to attract the next generation. Your package needs to be more competitive, regardless of its structure. Make sure you use all those different annual data surveys to see how not only the compensation but also your overall benefit package compares to your regional benchmarks, as well as the overall specialty.
When you try to pull that all together, what often ends up happening is the creation of really complex packages. So, we need to focus not only on a transparent package, but also one that can be explained by a layman. When we work with a company that says, “Don’t worry about it, our salary package is too complex, we’ll explain it later,” that’s a yellow flag for us. If our recruiters who deal with this every day, can’t understand the package, a doctor coming out of training is really going to give you a wide-eyed stare.
You cannot overlook the loan repayment piece either. It’s crucial for attraction. Some people won’t even consider jobs coming out of training unless there is some sort of loan repayment included. While many organizations may have sign-on bonuses or retention bonuses, we strongly encourage them to consider loan repayment in some cases.
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