Are the latest Physician Onboarding Programs a Good Investment for Hospitals?

Can Onboarding programs help physician turnover problems?
Can Onboarding programs reduce physician turnover problems and justify their investment?

If the primary reason for health systems and hospitals developing physician onboarding programs is to reduce physician turnover, they will not significantly improve their numbers because these programs don’t address the reasons for turnover which are embedded in the traditional recruitment process which comes before them.  Below is a solution that can otherwise make an onboarding program with this intent actually work.

Over the last year I’ve read intently on hospital organizations and their investments in physician onboarding programs that are administered by in-house recruiters – ostensibly in reaction to poor turnover numbers. The general thought process seems to be if hospitals can provide a “welcome wagon approach” to ushering physicians into their new jobs – as opposed to merely credentialing, the physicians and their families will be more apt to stay longer.

Off the bat, I can say as a former trainer of high-end sales professionals that the focus on what is essentially “service after the sale” is long overdue.  But on the hospital side this concept put into practice won’t solve the problems of physicians leaving abruptly or at the end of their contracted term – the investment into this endeavor is a “band aid that won’t heal the wound.”

  • How am I certain that health systems that have spent considerable money and time on this won’t yield an ROI or see the changes in turnover they are hoping for?

Because an onboarding program doesn’t address the reasons doctors leave early, which lay in the traditional recruiting process, which promotes physicians and their spouses having to make ill-informed decisions because they never get enough information through their career search that makes them commit to a long-term relationship.  Instead, physicians are often sold on a contract after the hospital asks, “what will it take?” and then hard closes with a $15,000 check.  In fact, what the doctor and family learn AFTER the close, and often DURING this kind of onboarding program – such as “real living” issues and lifestyle, work and peer relationships that weren’t fully revealed in the interviews, is what promotes turnover.  They determine, after the fact, that the hospital, the people, and the service area, isn’t for them; in fact, had they learned what they know now, they wouldn’t have accepted the position in the first place.

Physician Turnover Rates
Physician Turnover Rate

Today’s Recruitment Process is what Promotes Turnover Problems:

The Recruiting Process Doesn’t “Reach” today’s Web-savvy Professionals:  The traditional process of providing prospective candidates with a handful of links to investigate and then flying very few of them in for the limited real interview trip for which they are unprepared – to learn about working and living in the area, simply does not advance their knowledge to make well-formed decisions.  The bottom line is, year after year, statistics and long term results PROVE many new physician candidates aren’t fully informed to feel good about a long-term career choice.  So they essentially “take a chance” when accepting jobs. Alternately, candidates may have unrealistic expectations brought on entirely by their own hopes and dreams that aren’t based on real facts.  It’s a hard pill for healthcare systems to swallow, but poor retention numbers are promoting trying new things like these onboarding programs. No booklet, 5 minute recruiting video filled with clichés, or even a second trip paid for by the hospital, makes a compelling dent – these have been tried and again, the numbers are what they are. 

In-house Recruiters: The vast majority of in-house recruiters are not coming to health systems leaving a six-figure sales job at Boston Scientific, or Microsoft or Pfizer, where they were expertly trained, and then survived intensely competitive, quota-based selling environments – but isn’t physician recruiting competitive, expensive and doesn’t it deal with high-caliber, high income “prospects?”  The platform for developing leads, then selling and closing in a very competitive forum with selling tools by expertly trained and incentivized sales pros, and KEEPING customers – which all GREAT companies do, is the SAME intent of in-house recruiting.  In-house recruiters don’t come into their positions with that pedigree and many aren’t incentivized with bonuses or pay tied to production and results. Nor are they provided tools to offset their shortcomings – all great sales professionals use great sales tools, which are almost always provided by their company.

The Tools: What has not worked are referring prospective candidates to various websites, sending them brochures and cliché filled recruiting videos, as the numbers bear out poor closing results and poor retention which has prompted onboarding programs as the latest attempt to tinker with results – a “reaction” to a problem that doesn’t really examine the causes of the problem.

Leadership:  Many senior directors of HR and Physician Recruitment have resisted looking at recruiting as a competitive function but an administrative one.  Although that is changing due to the cost but also because of revelations regarding how improved efficiency can yield significant revenue to hospitals, the “process” of in-house recruitment isn’t yet being re-calibrated regarding new protocols and new standards for hiring as well as compensating in-house recruiters.

Third-Party Recruiting Firms: These firms have “cornered the market” on sourcing, and its born in many ways because of the aforementioned lack of focus by employers on the competitive component. We all knew a decade ago that jobseekers would pour into the Internet to engage their career search but hospitals did little in the way of planning a cogent, competitive strategy to “net” steady streams of candidates with online branding and search engine strategies to obtain proprietary candidates.  Now the result is many hospitals use these places to source candidates while on a contingency basis the same candidates are being shown multiple opportunities to the job seeker.

Any hospital that doesn’t think their new physician will not be be checked up on in a few years by the same outside recruiter who placed them and collected a fee in order to showed them multiple options again, would be naive.  The key is to source the candidates without these third parties – not just to avoid the fee, but because the physicians develop a relationship with an outside recruiting firm that for the long term isn’t in the hospital’s best interests.

The Home page for our Online Job Tour® Version 2.0 release for JMH
Home page for our Online Job Tour® Version 2.0
  • What is needed before a successful onboarding program can be implemented is a better informed and more motivated new physician candidate, who is committed to a long-term career when they are signed.

Online Job Tour sets the table for successful onboarding by offsetting the limitations of traditional recruiting, in the sense that the healthcare system, hospital, or employer now wants to implement a program to establish a protocol to credential and track benchmarks of success as well as “community integration” which keeps them in practice in their area.  Here’s how and why:

World Class and New Modern Tool:  Over a seven year period while waiting for its US patent, we found that Online Job Tour “front end loads” all of the information about working with the hospital and living in the area – in fact, the real interview trip cannot cover 5% of Online Job Tours, which have as many as 300 web pages, 3,000 original photos and 80 videos with as many as 4 hours of video time, providing an extraordinary, robust, complete “holistic preview” of work and life with our clients.  By the time candidate arrive for interviews they “know all there is to know” – they also shared it together and with friends and family who already support their decisions; in fact, many arrive already committed that should the authenticate their interest on the interview that this is their top choice – this lowers the barrier of anxiety, promotes a smoother relaxed interview, an earlier placement, and often less need for incentives or income guarantees because the candidate wants the position as their top choice and is not begrudgingly considering it.

Better More Productive Recruiters: With no training, our client in-house recruiters provide this “all-in-one-resource” that lets candidates take a “virtual preview visit” that educates them on topics they need to know while putting our client’s best foot forward, satisfying the need to sell and compete. Online Job Tour sells the “lifestyle and career” vs. the traditional process which sells a job.  Online Job Tour allows our client in-house recruiters to focus more on being advocates for the candidates by promoting local relationships sooner.  Less time is spent dealing with candidates trying to inform and educate them – this expands the role of in-house recruiters as the generally consider remedial work of candidate communication and setting up interviews is reduced and lead to more time available for sourcing.

Ready for Onboarding:  Now the onboarding process can be one which focuses purely on the career start and moving to the hospital billing by a motivated employee or doctor and not an “after-the-placement information gathering quest” by anxious new ones.  For our clients, among many recruiting cost savings, the placements are made in far less time which means physicians start far sooner which yields tremendous financial returns. 

Turnover reduced Naturally by Online Job Tour: Online Job Tour not only advances the assimilation process with new employees already informed, they also move to an area comfortably with far less worry.. Also, we all know that a physician invested into his or her community in the form of memberships in organizations or in financial and business partnerships, is very difficult to recruit away. Online Job Tour gives our clients a huge head start onto that path because by the time they relocate the physicians are already immersed into their new areas, and have met and started new relationships vs. moving to a new location “cold.” Ultimately, onboarding can be reduced, as it should be, to helping physicians start on time and fostering relationships that have already started that will lead to doctors investing in their communities – this is the true, ideal long term physician recruitment outcome.

US Patent #8,200,584
US Patent #8,200,584

If your hospital or health system is instituting an onboarding program, consider that you may be “putting the cart before the horse” by not first focusing on better educating and motivating your candidates with a modern recruiting tool like patented Online Job Tour.

Carl Brickman
Founder & Creative Director
Promo Web Innovations, Inc.
Tampa, FL
Studio: 813-992-2299


One thought on “Are the latest Physician Onboarding Programs a Good Investment for Hospitals?

  1. Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from.
    I appreciate you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this site.

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