“Our Rural Hospital Has Difficulty Recruiting” – Factors to Focus on When Recruiting Physicians

August 27, 2019

It is well-known that recruiting providers of any kind to rural locations can be a challenge. A survey conducted by Jackson Physician Search presents the similarities and disparities between what attracted rural physicians to rural hospitals and what rural administrators think attracted them, and provides suggestions on how to recruit and retain physicians.   

The survey was composed of 23 questions about the factors that affected physician recruitment to rural hospitals. There were 150 physician respondents with 75% of them practicing in a community with less than 25,000 people and 105 rural health system administrator respondents. The results showed how physicians and administrators value attributes including organizational culture, compensation and recruiting incentives as factors for choosing a rural practice location.

Although there were some similarities in the responses of both groups, the results highlight that factors physician feel are important to recruitment and retention often differ from the assumptions of administrators seeking to hire these physicians. Not surprisingly both groups  feel that compensation is a top factor when recruiting physicians to a rural practice. However, top factors noted by physicians which were not as significantly appreciated by administrators included autonomy to practice; a team-based, family-oriented culture; and involvement of top administrators in the recruitment process.

EHCNote: EHC partners with many hospitals and anesthesia groups providing care in underserved, rural communities. A recurring theme echoed by administrators, physicians and OR managers when discussing staffing issues is that their hospital is especially “difficult to recruit to” due to geographic location. This survey notes the importance of hospital administration focusing on the factors that are most likely to resonate with the physicians who are being recruited. It sheds light on an interesting point, that it is not necessarily difficult to recruit to these areas, just that recruitment efforts should not only focus on compensation, but also on the opportunities for autonomy, a family-centered environment and close ties with hospital leadership.  In other words, play up the unique attributes which differentiate rural opportunities from others and usually resonate with candidates.