Getting Doctors in Your Doors

October 5, 2012
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Physician Recruitment Marketing: Attracting New Talent in a Competitive Market

Physician Recruitment Marketing: Attracting New Talent in a Competitive Market

It’s an ongoing challenge. You’re trying to keep the quality physicians you have, and you’re looking for that next group of superstars to take your organization to the next level. Admit it: In a perfect world, physicians would seek you out, walking through the door proclaiming, “I’m thoroughly impressed with your organization, I love the community, and this is where I want to practice medicine.”
But it doesn’t work that way. Great physicians are a valuable commodity, maybe today more than ever. And with competition for top talent at an all-time high, physicians are constantly bombarded with opportunities from hospitals – letters, phone calls from physician recruiters, emails, texts from colleagues, etc. There seems to be no end to the tactics that intrepid healthcare providers will use to court the best and brightest.
The question is, how can you effectively compete with the competition down the street, the beautiful weather in another part of the country or the lifestyle available on the “coasts?”
You could take the “old school” but comfortable approach. Send out your best physician recruiter – or even your CEO, if necessary – to put your hospital’s best foot forward, wining and dining your recruit, then crossing your fingers and hoping he or she will take the bait (and the offer you made). But with competition hotter than ever, you really need something more strategic – and more targeted – to stand out among the myriad institutions vying for today’s hottest talent.
 

Build Your Brand
Unless you’re an organization like the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic or a similar highprofile institutions, you need to swallow your pride and assume your recruits have never heard of your hospital (because they probably haven’t). By doing so, it will require you to use the strength of your brand and the quality of your people. Because your brand – that is, the promise you make to your staff and community and the delivery of that promise – is what tells a physician what you stand for, how you do business and what to expect when he or she walks through the door every day.
By defining your brand, you will give your physician recruit an idea of where you stand in the community, how you are positioned against your competition, and how other physicians and staff feel about working in your organization.
In other words, make a good impression, but go easy on “overselling.” Instead, accentuate the positives and create a good first impression. But make sure those positives are things that are important to physicians and their families and, just as importantly, things you can deliver consistently.
Don’t sugarcoat your story. Doctors are smart. If you try to sell your rural community of 15,000 as “cosmopolitan,” they’ll notice it the minute they hit the city limits.
On the other hand, if you are well respected by patients – and, just as importantly, by other physicians – in the region, and if you live up to your brand promise, you’ll be more attractive to physicians looking to relocate.
 

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Use a Familiar, Trusted Voice
It’s no secret that the best way to sell your brand and your organization to physician recruits is through their peers. Take some time to engage your doctors in physician marketing. Ask them to serve as liaisons and sounding boards for potential colleagues. Ask your doctors to share their own stories of what brought them to the community and to your organization, their needs at the time, and how your organization delivered on those needs. Use print and video communications featuring current physicians and their families – along with face-to-face meetings – to bring desired recruits into the fold.
Physicians are competitive and often territorial, so at first some may be reluctant to help out. But by impressing upon them that the strength and credibility of the organization improves with each new, talented physician added to the roster, they will likely be willing to work with you.
 

Dedicate Resources to Recruitment Marketing
While most physicians have similar needs and wants, they are receptive to different communication styles. You need to have a toolbox of high-level, targeted messages and marketing elements available to use for any situation.
Physicians who are looking for new practice opportunities want the inside story about your facility, its leadership and the community. A supportive, progressive executive team; financial stability; excellent local schools; access to recreational and cultural activities – these are all important considerations for physicians. So you must balance the features of the job with the benefits of the entire experience you can offer.
Create a place just for physicians on the Internet. It may be a physician area on your website or a microsite specifically designed to attract new talent. Physicians will appreciate that they have a dedicated online place for information and that you have made it easy to find and navigate. Create sections dedicated to technology, community and lifestyle, and other areas to allow physicians to easily find areas of interest.
 

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Stand out in a Sea of Solicitations
Ask one of your doctors to collect the recruiting solicitations he or she receives in a month, and you’ll see that it is truly a buyer’s market.
And if you look at the majority of these solicitations, you’ll see that they take on the same look and feel, using the same clichéd copy and focusing on features rather than benefits.
The good news? With a little creativity and foresight, you can stand out among your competition. Diversify your tactics from your competitors, using email marketing, job board postings, print ads in medical journals and social media to reach your audience. If you use direct mail, make certain your pieces are eye-catching, colorful and unique. Self-mailers, rather than letters or fliers in a #10 envelope, stand out from the rest and immediately put your opportunity in front of the physician’s eyes.
 

Share Your On-boarding Plan
Physicians are clinicians, not savvy business people. That said, they will need help establishing their practice and marketing their services to prospective patients and referring providers. When discussions reach the stage at which you believe a physician is ready to make a move, share your plans to help in establishing his or her new practice in your community.
This is especially important for physicians who are relocating. They need to know their new business will be supported in your community. For hospital-employed physicians, create a marketing launch plan for the new doctor, properly introducing him or her to your market. For physicians who will be practicing privately, share the resources available through the hospital to help the new physician become integrated into the medical community.
It’s a competitive market right now. It is important that you take the time to develop strong, compelling messages to support your physician recruiting efforts. Communicate with candidates in a manner that makes it comfortable and easy for them. Enlist the assistance of those who can really sell your organization: your current “superstar” physicians. And finally, find a balance between the features of the job and the benefits your organization and your community can offer a professional looking to make a critical career move.