How to Recruit Physicians for Lifetime Careers in Non-Urban Hospitals

As hospital organizations and physician groups continue their focus on being operationally lean and on ways to generate revenue, light is being shined on the financial “production” of physicians and key healthcare practitioners. Industry studies show specialists can generate as much as $300,000, and more, in monthly billing. The combination of unfilled physician openings and retention problems, translates to hospitals losing millions annually – this is visible, for example, when a cardiac surgeon leaves, and hospitals see that “hole” of what that former doctor was bringing in while trying to replace him.  Unfilled careers, and the loss of a physician – and the related stream of services provided, not to mention interruption of care to patients, is expensive, and demoralizing.  Today, the hospital industry now uses the term “recruiting and retention” instead of simply “recruiting.”

The traditional industry approach to physician recruiting is to cajole prospects to take the expensive “three-day weekend” interview trip, where THEN the hospital passively educates, and tries to sell them. However, doctors are often sold on a contract with a sign-on bonus, and not on the career and the life they perceive they will have.  They learn “the rest of the story” AFTER they relocate. Candidly, many physicians do not come to the new job fully committed.  Doctors also take advantage of employers who reveal through poor recruiting products, practices and communications, that they are desperate, often in non-urban settings. Many have no intention of staying past the contract’s length.

  • The “golden goose” all hospitals hope for, is hiring doctors who end up making roots in their service areas. How can they increase their odds to make this happen?
  • Clearly, making faster placements, hiring the most talented practitioners, and improving retention, directly leads to increases in hospital income, and maintains staff and service continuity.  How can physician and staff recruiting for these hospitals be improved, and made more efficient?

Answering these two questions can secure a rural hospital for a generation, and can turn a good regional or national system into a world-class healthcare organization.


“Administration” vs. “Sales:” The key reason for poor recruiting statistics and “high turnover” of physicians and practitioners in non-urban hospitals, is these organizations continue to view recruiting as an administrative process and not as a competitive sales process.

Human Resources, their hiring arm, is staffed with dedicated professionals but who are trained on policy and legal issues, employee relations, and benefits.  Hospital marketing personnel have no direct sales backgrounds – they do not have roots in professional, transaction selling, but are “public relations” people who promote the organization’s services. Quality aside, recruiting videos are often filled with cliches, leave out crucial topics, and open more questions than answers. When it comes to filling jobs, there is a general hesitation to “lead” prospective candidates “because it feels pushy.” Without formal training or experience at the core, there is no selling orientation in advertising, the process, or even how prospects are communicated to. Recruiting doesn’t include strategically addressing the real needs and anxieties of target prospects, nor appreciates of the competitive component – the need not just to “sell” the prospect, but outsell their other options. There is no sense of urgency.

The Needed Sales Orientation:

When I came into this field after being in tech sales and sales training, I evaluated hospital recruiting based on that previous career. I saw poor closing percentages of signing candidates, long placement times with wasted interview trips, little accountability or record keeping for evaluation to improve, no real pay incentives for recruiters, poor recruiting materials and tools, excessive use of outside recruiting services, high sign-on bonuses, and high turnover.  I also saw in-house recruiters busy doing the wrong things, namely, spending too much time being interview hosts. All physician jobs are eventually filled, but at what “expense?

A professional sales process is measurable, and can be studied in order to be improved on. It insists on guiding the prospect, to be certain of the best outcome for BOTH sides. “Selling” understands that “people buy on emotion, and then justify their decisions with facts” (Bert Decker).  Jobseekers must believe they have all the information they need.  The advantage goes to the employer with the best “presentation” to the candidate of how they will live and work, with the information to justify it to themselves, and often to others.

  • “Having Exclusivity:” A start-to-finish career search process that has an “end” to it promotes the client is expecting an answer.  If driven by professionals paid for production, it is more akin to a sales process. Instead of acting desperate, sales pros wait for the candidates to bring up their sincere interest in wanting the job before offering an interview trip. Promoting that the career is wanted by others and is therefore a valuable opportunity, is done in selling in all other industries.
  • All great sales professionals have a great sales tool. It is an extension of their knowledge and presentation, available to many prospects at the same time in order to maximize influence and competitiveness, on 24/7 when the recruiter isn’t, and offsets any lack of sales training or experience, and is mistake-free.
  • Improving Poor Physician Retention: Many doctors and practitioners leave suburban and rural places because it was never their top choice – they accepted the job and a large bonus, as opposed to competing for and “winning” a “dream” career over other candidates. And a physician who grows to love where he lives eventually sets up roots, invests his time and energy there, and forms personal and financial partnerships that make it virtually impossible to recruit him away.
  • Motivated recruiters perform better and yield better results: they should have incentives to generate most of their earnings through commission, and hospitals should be comfortable with having high-income “sales” professionals who are willing to be paid based on production and results.


Introducing Online Job Tour:  I invented Online Job Tour as a “tool” to offset many of these limitations and challenges, adding professional sales tenets to the in-house hospital and physician recruiting process.

Online Job Tour is an “interview visit simulation” to a hospital and its area that educates prospects better than the expensive, logistically challenging, limited real interview trip, offered up-front for all and before commitments by either side, while the production puts the client’s “best foot forward.”  After one use, prospective candidates are fully educated, and have a better “holistic understanding” of working with the hospital and living in their area, than they could gain from multiple real trips.

  • When used as prescribed, our 7-year test market revealed compelling client improvements in ad response, closing percentages of preferred candidates, it limited wasted real interview trips, there was less use of outside recruiters, faster placements, and less need for sign on bonuses. In many cases over 12 years since its use, Online Job Tour clients dramatically reduced turnover, promoting “lifetime career placements” of significant, revenue-producing doctors.

A Great Sales Tool that Offsets Traditional Challenges:

“Location:” Studies have recently been released by reputable physician recruiting firms, revealing that physicians under the age of 35 (young professionals who are well compensated consumers, as well as young families) list “location” as the top criterion of their career search. And physicians age 35-50, list location as #2. Online Job Tour is the premier product that shows these professionals (and their extended families, with whom it can be shared) how they will work and live, in their mind’s eye, as high-end consumers.

Helpful in Non-Urban Areas: One of the biggest reasons for Online Job Tour’s success with many hospitals was how it “revealed” their areas – some locations which can fly under the “Internet radar” regarding what is available to learn about, while leaving “no stone unturned.”  Hospitals use tourism or Chamber of Commerce sites in recruiting that are too provincial – only focuses on local offerings and don’t represent a complete picture to future high-end resident/consumers. School and economy sites have too much non-recruiting information and require jobseekers to do too much work, to “sell themselves,” or to compare between employers.  Instead, Online Job Tour is personalized for the physician consumer and presents a work and life presentation for them. Our productions also review entrepreneurial opportunities, introduce prospects to area small business support principals, as well as angel investor groups – we are promoting how physicians can become a part of their areas and invest in them, because our recruiting experience knows that doctors invested in their communities are very difficult to recruit away. True selling is being an advocate for prospects – telling them what they need to know and providing “inside information,” and “insight,” even if they do limited research.

Empowering Recruiters:  Our test market also revealed a heightened sense of confidence by our client in-house recruiters, who leveraged the compelling ability to hand to prospects a virtual trip to their hospital and community to their prospects and to advertisers. We encourage clients to measure closing numbers, placement successes and to institute ways to measure the performance of recruiters.

Creating Needed Exclusivity: Having multiple motivated candidates responding to ads, means they a) know that they must compete for the job and b) fall into a sense that they are dealing with a desired employer. Hundreds of pages, dozens of videos, and tens of thousands of original photos – all in an Online Job Tour especially for a hospital organization’s candidates, sends a powerful message of professionalism.  Online Job Tour eliminates “wasted interview trips” and promotes hosting candidates who deem our client their top choice, which improves closing percentages, as well as retention; new hires believe they are working and living in their top pick.

The Placement is Faster:  Without the need to utilize the real trip to educate prospects, the window to fill the job opening is shorter. Online Job Tour serves to pre-qualify prospects, limiting wasted real trips.  After using Online Job Tour, questions from client recruiters should include: 1) How do we compare to your other options? 2) What is your timeline to decide? 3) What does your spouse think of the Online Job Tour?  Answers allow clients to compare candidates in order to determine which they try to close and in what order, as well as help the client choreograph their dealings with prospects, as well as their interviews. The client can also better compare a “group” of pre-sold, motivated candidates vs. the linear, one-after-the-other approach needed, because the real trips for each, takes time. Candidates arrive for interviews ready to negotiate their careers. Clients cut their time to place new physicians 33%-50% faster; for some specialists, starting 4-6 months sooner translates to as much as a million dollars in revenue.

Creates Ideal Physician Career Placement: A client recruiting process that includes Online Job Tour as the education, sales, and pre-qualifying tool, promotes motivated candidates who prefer our clients’ careers, who excitedly (as opposed to anxiously) arrive to their interviews already knowing about their work-life mix.  They often eagerly sign without needing to be “incentivized” with a huge cash bonus. They relocate to the client with their families fully committed. Clients experience a significant improvement in their retention numbers.

Reaching emotions during the recruitment with a great sales tool, and then getting their decision reinforced in positive ways through the recruiting process and then after they relocate – with no negative surprises after their start, promotes a continued career and life fulfillment where our test market showed an improvement in client turnover numbers, with physicians becoming long-term professionals who invest themselves and their resources, into our client communities.


Promoting Efficient, “Lifetime” Physician Placements for Rural Hospitals

Online Job Tour is a patent protected, tested product/tool, covering multiple topics and produced after significant research and an on-site production visit. It is updated to remain “fresh and new” for the client’s latest prospects.  Our team has combined backgrounds (medical recruiting, sales, professional writing, video production, medical recruiting expertise, web-tech experience) that a PR or marketing firm doesn’t have. Hospital marketing departments also don’t have the expertise or time to develop and maintain a production with 300+ pages, 80+ videos, tens of thousands of original photos, as their primary duty (and expertise) is to market the hospital’s services – not recruiting.

  • PR groups cannot be expected to be able to produce our niche product, and they can only follow client directions, not provide any consulting.
  • Particularly because location is so crucial to their choice, presenting a physician-consumer-jobseeker with a “thesis-like” immersive experience, is essential in today’s Internet age. Online Job Tours blanket key subjects that relocating professionals need to understand about a new hospital and its location, on their terms, before the first conversation with the hospital’s designated recruiting person.
  • Online Job Tour can be the first step in establishing a measurable, accountable recruiting process that can take a hospital organization to the next level.

To learn more about Online Job Tour visit  Call our studio at 813-992-2299 if you have any questions.



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