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.

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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.

  • State License
  • National Provider Identifier (NPI)
  • Hospital Privileges (some exceptions)
  • DEA License
  • Malpractice Insurance

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.

 The Contract

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:

  • Compensation Specifics
  • Duration of Contract
  • Exclusivity Language (ability to work for other entities)
  • Non-compete Language
  • Malpractice Coverage Requirements
  • Confidentiality of Medical Record Information
  • On-call Schedules
  • Buy-sell Agreement  (if given ownership)

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.


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3 Responses to “Physician Recruitment: Planning Is Crucial”

  1. D. Applebaum says:

    Are there any recruitment agencies, or are there any other guidelines as to where to look for these candidates? Specifically the residents? Schools, community based centers, etc.


  2. Ann Lamb says:

    Contact Physicians has the 2013 and 2014 Resident and Fellow contact information.

  3. susan thomas parrott says:

    Thank you. This information is very helpful. However, we are probably finished with hiring new physicians for the time being, but what is suggested in hiring new PAs & Nurse Practioners as these seem to be the areas in our mulitple offices that we still look to fill? Our offices are in Tennessee & there have been many questions our billing offices have had about the new PAs & NPs joining our staff, how to prepare for them, what they are allowed to do & when we can start billing for their services?

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