Marrying the art and science of physician recruitment

By Kim Davis

In a time when physician recruiting may be tougher than ever – 76 percent of candidates are passive seekers, and the pool of physicians is shrinking annually – Jackson Physician Search has broken the code: Work the art of relationships while utilizing the innovations of science.

For some in the physician recruitment space dominated by decades-old tactics and old-fashioned practices, it may seem like a novel idea. But for the Atlanta-based, nationwide physician recruiting firm, it’s a plan that has grown the company by 70 percent annually over the last several years as a bonified “Matchmaker” for their many hospital, academic and group practice clients. Figuring out the formula, however, didn’t come without some serious risk. Tony Stajduhar, in 2009 had been freshly appointed to take over Jackson Physician Search when he steadfastly stood before his company board and drew a line in the sand to make significant changes to the status quo. Putting his own job on the line, Stajduhar promised that transitioning from extremely profitable direct mail recruitment tactics to digital practices would brand Jackson Physician Search as innovators and leave their opposition branded as dinosaurs. Standing before him, however, were the one-time innovators in the space – pioneers of the direct mail formula.

Jackson Physician Search Innovates

As physician recruiting firms abound across the country, and many hospitals simply try to “go it alone,” Jackson Physician Search has disrupted the market by staying on top of the digital age in their recruiting format. Their approach turns passive candidates active and more quickly puts active candidates in their right “match.” His board relented and gave him a shot at transitioning from the direct mail strategy, freeing hospital clients from expensive printing and posting costs.

“We learned a long time ago to dump direct mail and jump head first into the digital age,” Stajduhar said. Dane Altman, Jackson Physician Search senior vice president, said it simply made sense to change with the times. Direct mail is expensive and must be paid up-front by the client. In today’s digital world, direct mail no longer has the effect it once had to recruit physicians looking to make a change. It was in 2009 that Jackson Physician Search took a “deep-dive” into switching their recruiting process in two major areas: no more hourly billing, and no more snail mail.

“We went completely electronic,” Stajduhar said. “We sunk all our efforts into where doctors look; and we found that includes almost everything electronic – from job boards to social media for physicians.

And it worked. Since 2010, Jackson Physician Search has steered clear of direct mail. Jackson Physician Search and yet has grown their clientele and placements exponentially each year since.

“While many companies also delve into job boards, we do it with 24/7 exposure day-in and day-out, on every single search,” Altman said. “Using this process allows us to change and update anything on the fly – making it better for both the client and the candidate by having real-time information all of the time.”

The Art of Relationships

“As in any successful business, there is nothing more important than building strong relationships,” said Tony Stajduhar. “And those relationships go far beyond just matching the right physician to the right facility. It’s a process that involves everyone in the prospective physician’s family – as well as the hospital doing the candidate search.”

Jackson Physician Search dives deep into knowing not only what specialty is being sought by the hospital or group practice, but also learns more insightful details about prospective physicians – from preferred geographics (bedroom, rural or city community); to spouses’ likes and dislikes to children’s activity preferences and school wants/needs.

“It’s not going to be a long-term hospital-physician relationship if the spouse and/or kids aren’t happy as well,” Stajduhar said. “It’s a pretty simple idea, but we believe in doing the right thing for all involved. Period.”

Donna Boatright, CEO for Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater said knowing the right fit isn’t always obvious. But as a client of Jackson Physician Search, she’s witness to their match-making skills.

“They (Jackson Physician Search) take time not only to learn what our needs are at the hospital, but also to learn our community,” she said. “Their process allows me to review resumes and CVs to look through, weed out, and narrow down long before I ever have to set that first appointment with a potential candidate. What used to take months to search for a candidate is now lessened, and Jackson Physician Search always listens. Though I know I’m not, I’m made to feel as if I’m their only client every time.”

Recruiting in the Midst of a Physician Shortage

Jackson Physician Search’s recruiting model is one to learn from – especially as the United States faces a tightening physician market. In Texas, as population increases, demand for skilled physicians will continue to rise. And supply is not keeping up with that demand pace.

The number of “total active” physicians in all specialties rose less than 2 percent annually to 860,939 in 2015 from 799,501 in 2010, according to the American Association of Medical College’s 2016 Physician Specialty Data Report published in Forbes magazine. Yet the number of residency slots continues to rise at about 1 percent per year, according to the new data.

“By 2020, we’re really going to be short (physicians),” Altman said.

Doing the Right Thing

Both Stajduhar and Altman agree. Whether it’s the art or science of Jackson Physician Search’s physician recruitment model being talked about, it’s the relationship-focus that’s the most important thread.

“We’re excited about the latest technology we’re able to offer our clients, and that does set us apart,” Altman said. “But in the end, it’s all about the people – all of the time, and delivering unparalleled service every day.”

HealthShare Solutions June 2017
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More About Jackson Physician Search

Founded in 1977 as Jackson & Coker, the new name highlights the company’s leadership and clarifies its role in the permanent physician placement industry. Jackson Physician Search specializes in permanent recruitment of physicians and advanced practice providers to hospitals and health systems across the United States. The company is recognized for its track record of results built on their clients’ trust in the skills of their team and the transparency of their process.

Jackson Physician Search has been an endorsed partner with the Texas Hospital Association since 2012. Contact Emily Freeman at 512/465-1572 or efreeman@tha.org for more information.