Physician Recruitment: Planning Is Crucial
By Dixon Davis, MBA, MSHA, CPPM
Planning ahead when hiring new employees is a key human resources skill. When hiring new staff, you typically need a couple weeks of advertising and application gathering, some interview time, and often two weeks’ notice before this new person can actually start. Hiring a physician is a much more complex experience that should be started up to six months prior to their first day of work. Because physician employment can be complex and crucial to business success, here are a few timing hints to keep you out of hot water.
Who to Recruit
As you begin the physician recruitment process, consider whether you will be recruiting a new resident, an experienced physician from outside your community, or a physician with an already established practice in the community.
- Recruiting a physician out of residency will generally require less compensation with a candidate who usually adapts to more easily to your culture; and, there are new candidates coming out every year from which to choose. New residents will need to be licensed in your state, credentialed with payers, and privileged at any participating hospitals. Most residents start looking for six months to a year prior to when they graduate. For the best applicant pool, recruitment should start at least six months prior to graduation (Graduation is generally in June.).
- An experienced physician outside your community may require higher initial compensation, and may or may not need state licensure and credentialing with payers. Practicing physicians on an average are not constrained by a calendar unless working under a provision of a prior contract.
- A physician already in the community will ideally already have a full practice (existing patients), already be licensed and credentialed, and be familiar with the community. This type of recruitment is generally the fastest and most financially beneficial to a practice.
Basic Licensure and Credentialing
When considering the timing of your recruitment efforts, keep these general requirements in mind as most of them will be required to get paid and to meet local laws.
Credentialing a physician with payers can take several months. This can be a complex process and one that needs to be monitored carefully. In most cases, if the provider is not credentialed prior to seeing patients, he or she will never get paid for his or her services. If a provider is employed and seeing patients for a couple months without being fully credentialed with payers, it could result in a loss of tens of thousands of dollars.
Physician employment almost always will include an employment contract that will both protect the practice as well as the physician. Key components to include in a physician contract are:
During the recruitment process, do not forget to include the physicians’ spouse early. It can be costly and timely to go through the whole process only to find out at the very end that the spouse does not want to move to your city. Well-planned and -timed physician recruitment efforts save a lot of time and money, both of which are very valuable when doing business.