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Physician and Healthcare Job Board

Traditional Physician Recruitment Strategies that Still Work

Tried & True Physician Recruiting Strategies that Still Work
Michael Brown/

It’s estimated that by 2025 there will be a shortage of up to 35,000 primary care physicians in the US. By 2030 the numbers jump from 40,000 to more than 100,000. With shortfalls projected to rise and few remedies in sight, the need to recruit physicians successfully has never been more critical.

In an age of recruitment by algorithm, many look at hiring as an exercise in mathematics. There’s sourcing ROI, funnel metrics, cycle times, and dozens of other calculations we’re told to examine to raise our level of success in the hiring arena. For all the algorithms, recruitment ultimately comes down to working with people – and people are notoriously averse to being just a number. Numbers and high tech may be important, but there are still many traditional methods that are tried, true, and worth revisiting.


With countless job boards to roam, it’s important to focus your search where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. You can try the mega boards – you may even find a wealth of similar postings on them – but concentrating your search to healthcare job boards, medical journals and professional associations is still your best bet. If you’re looking for a pediatric orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip injuries, skip the job board that also recruits dog food tasters.


The relationships you build with professional organizations are only the beginning; networking with medical schools and in particular with their career services officers can create buzz about your organization long before they don their cap and gown.

Employee referrals are still one of the best ways to hire. People tend to gravitate toward their ilk; great employees are highly likely to refer someone as great as they. The numbers bear out the value of a good employee referral program. As many as 88% of employers say employee referrals are their top source of above-average candidates. Referral hires tend to have the longest tenure and highest rates of satisfaction in new hires. Whatever compensation you offer to the referring employee will likely be much lower than the cost of recruiting from scratch, and your time to hire will probably be reduced as well.

Inside Information

How many times have you interviewed candidates who were just this short of perfection and promised to review their resume for the next opening, then promptly forgot all about them? It happens all too often in the busy day of a recruiter — great candidates are outpaced by slightly greater candidates, and you wish you had two openings to fill. Keeping an internal database of candidates may seem old hat, but the tried and true old trend is gaining new steam with a rebrand as “applicant tracking.”

Whether you’re making lists or spreadsheets, circulating resumes, or just keeping a file on your desk, your internal data may yield you a new external hire.

When it’s time to recruit, it’s also time to look at internal data about internal employees. Who is ripe for promotion? Who’s completing coursework or a certification program? Are you posting your openings within before outside sourcing? The perfect choice may be right under your nose – if you take the time to look for it.

Selling Your Institution

These days there are a lot of new names for promoting your facility – employer branding the most popular. Virtual tours are another device being used to garner interest. But there’s always been a need to pitch to your strength, and these days the need is even greater. Whether you’re touting state-of-the-art facilities (or capital campaigns that promise them in the future), outstanding work-life balance or a host of other desirables, shameless self-promotion is always effective; you’re recruiting to fill an opening – they’re being recruited to make a life decision. Providing as much information about why they’re making the right choice in a move to you is recruitment 101.

Personal Touch

It may be business, but it has to be personal. No one wants to be wooed by a robot. With algorithms routing almost every aspect of our lives, we still want to be courted by a human being. As sophisticated as AI may be in sourcing candidates, it will never replace the human touch when it comes to interviewing, responding to questions, helping overcome obstacles, and making that final decision. As low-tech as it can be, one-on-one is still tried and true.

As you find shiny, new sophisticated ways to source physicians, remember the traditional as well. They’ll enhance the high-tech techniques you try and make for a better hiring experience for everyone involved.

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About Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years. Connect with Riia on Twitter at @RiiaOD.

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