8 Tips for Medical Directors to Improve Physician Recruiting

Posted on Wed, Dec 07, 2016
8 Tips for Medical Directors to Improve Physician Recruiting

By Christian Claudio
Today’s requirements, or possibly more accurately expectations, dictate that key hospital departments remain fully staffed, produce superior metrics and provide quality patient care. Yet filling full-time physician openings is not easy. Often, the challenge falls squarely on the shoulders on the medical director. The health system wants cost reduction and fiscal responsibility. The physician team wants balance and a life outside of work. The medical director is caught in the middle of the healthcare services tug-of-war with nowhere to turn. There is a better way: tap into your “power base.”

Plugging into Your ‘Power Base’

Start by organically stimulating your “power base.” Simply put, your power base includes all of the clinical contacts and colleagues you and your physician team have amassed and aggregated from your time in medical school through today. Think back to physicians who were in residency with you, your chief resident, past program directors or mentors, physicians from your former hospital or those whom you worked in the past, previous medical directors, medical directors at competing hospitals, colleagues you’ve met at association conferences, physicians who are in the same local chapters of medical organizations, and more. Search also for your advanced practice providers cohorts.

Tapping into your connections doesn’t mean that you will necessarily end up directly recruiting from your pool of influence; it simply results in an expanded reach from which to find candidates. And who knows, you may end up recruiting the one person you didn’t think would be interested!

Your power base is the single most lucrative way to generate immediate placements for your department. However, while it’s a cost-effective solution, it does require effort on your part. You want to activate every possible contact you have and get your power base to start to work for you. Remember that the docs you know also know other physicians who may be more appropriate prospects. Your job is just to ask your connections to ask their connections.

Reach out to your clinical contacts and find out what they are doing now. Ask about their lives, their practices and their families. Share war stories. People really love it when others take an interest in them and connect based on shared experiences. Let them know what you need when it comes up, but reconnecting should be your primary goal. Don’t rely solely on email or snail mail without first getting in touch via phone or a personal visit. A phone call is more valuable than mail but can and should be followed by mail or email the same day.

During this time of physician shortages, contacts and relationships are everything. The saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is true. The more physicians you contact, the better chance you have of discovering and recruiting the right clinicians for your facility or health system.

A few key points to remember:

  • People like to work with people they know and respect. Your reputation in the industry is one of your strongest recruiting strengths.
  • You won’t know if you don’t ask. I can’t tell you how many times I hear a physician leader tell how they ran into a doctor from their residency and, to their shock and disappointment, their friend just took a job at a hospital working for the competitor. If only they had known about the other opportunity, they would’ve strongly considered it.
  • Never, ever stop recruiting. Even when your site is fully staffed, you never really know when your department might immediately need an additional FTE. The reality is, you can avoid putting your department in this position by always connecting and recruiting.

Top Recruiting Tips for Medical Directors
  1. Make a list of everyone who you know who would potentially be a qualified candidate or works with qualified candidates, even if you think the physician wouldn’t be interested. Don’t limit your search geographically; your contacts may be open to relocation.
  2. Call the colleagues on your list. Don’t think about it, don’t analyze the list, just make the call. Talk about him or her and be genuine. If you’re not excited to reconnect with the person, then there’s a good chance this isn’t someone you want on your team. Everyone on your list should be someone you want to reconnect with, and the reconnection is reward enough.
  3. Articulate your vision, and keep it positive! I can’t stress this enough. After talking to some clinical leaders about their departments, I think to myself, “I would never want to work there with you. Way too negative.” No good leader has a negative vision, so when telling your old colleague about your situation, talk about how you are building your department, what makes it exciting and how much you’re grateful for the opportunity. Create the culture on the first call.
  4. Update each colleague’s contact information and personal data on the call. Confirm email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, family members’ names and birthdates, anniversaries and his or her current employment situation.
  5. Set a time to meet in person. You must commit time to meet with the person you’re calling because this may help fill your schedule with qualified candidates and increase potential referrals. Remember, your ultimate purpose here is not to direct recruit; it’s simply to make contact and re-establish a bond. You can’t afford not to do this if you want to build a successful department.
  6. Send a follow-up letter or email the same day. Seize the moment. You wouldn’t want a recruiter to delay in contacting a lead, so follow your same expectations. Don’t wait for tomorrow when you can do it today.
  7. Resist judging the quality of the meeting. No action is truly wasted when it promotes your department. You are reconnecting with a friend, getting a chance to share the vision of the department and building possibilities for the future.
  8. Lastly, remember the Principle of Reciprocity. Reciprocity is “a mutual exchange.” It’s the good old “give and take” principle or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” When someone does something for you, you want to return the favor.

Building Your Team

Richard Logue, MD, executive vice president, recently leveraged his power base to connect with key residency programs in his market.

“The key to recruiting is to think of it as building your own team and own practice. It’s an active process, not passive,” explained Dr. Logue. “The difference between a fully recruited site and an under-recruited site often is the enthusiasm and culture that the leaders project. If you have a vision for where you want to be, it’s infectious, and despite any inherent problems a site may have, the vision is what attracts people to want to join.”

Partnering with Physician Recruiters

When it comes to working with recruiters, Dr. Logue advises, “Think outside the box, work intensely with recruiters and get excited about changing up your strategies to get good providers onboard. As medical directors, we must own the recruitment process. To that end, don’t overwork yourself clinically. Give yourself time to schedule interviews and new events. Don’t get caught up in the vicious never-ending cycle of working too many clinical hours and not leaving yourself time to fix the long-term issue of being understaffed. By working with the recruiting department, a diligent medical director can transform even the most challenging site.”

Your recruiters know that you want to fill the holes in your team and they are working on the goal every day, even if you don’t see the progress. Aim your energy in a positive direction. Take charge, and adopt an “advance and conquer” mindset to build your department and attract high-quality players. By using the tips above, we’re making the recruiting process a bold step in building a team that is connected to purpose and to the vision of the organization.

And, be sure to celebrate wins with your recruiting team. This fuels forward progression as you partner with recruiters.


Christian Claudio is a regional director of physician recruiting with EmCare. He holds a bachelor’s degree in strategic leadership from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Named the Director of Recruiting of the Year in 2015, Claudio specializes in recruiting internal medicine, emergency medicine, orthopedic and therapy providers.


Richard T. Logue, MD, is executive vice president in EmCare’s Alliance Division. Dr. Logue joined EmCare after attending medical school at Cornell University and completing his emergency medicine residency at Presence Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago. Since then, he’s held several roles within the organization, including EMS director, assistant medical director, site medical director and regional medical director. In 2015, his site received the “Most Improved ER” award for the Alliance Division. Prior to his career in medicine, Dr. Logue received a master’s degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

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