Our recruiters are sometimes approached by a prospective client that reaches out for assistance specifically due to a long-term physician search initiative that “falls apart” in the final stages. Oftentimes, organizations can lose one or several candidates near the end of the placement process… but why does this happen?? After being engaged to fill the vacancy, our team first evaluates the reasons and finds the in-house-handled process actually begins to falter at the point of when the offer is presented to the candidate.
There are several explanations as to why this can occur:
- The hospital or practice is unaware of the market expectations around the specialty for which they are recruiting
- The compensation structure has not been fully developed or vetted prior to the search
- An offer is not presented or the back-and-forth handled in a timely manner
- There is a lack of experience or ability to negotiate the finer aspects of individual offers and the final contract
As a niched specialty firm in recruitment, one of our first conversations when kicking off a search with a new client is understanding their thoughts on the compensation package and structure for the position. Many times, this is the first instance of discussion on the topic, or sometimes, the hospital is looking to Corazon for input to even initiate the discussion. In either case, the position structure and compensation package MUST be discussed before the search is begun. If the goal is to “develop the package as candidates emerge,” we redirect the intent so at least some elements of this critical component are outlined. Simply saying you are “competitive” in the market is not enough. An incomplete or non-existent comp package is a HUGE RED FLAG for interested candidates. Physicians are busy, and likely do not want to waste their time or the time of the recruiter on an opportunity that doesn’t fit their expectations from the start. When questions are asked in the early stages, the organization will seem unprepared if answers aren’t readily available.
The physician recruiter must understand not only the market value for base compensation but also the expected productivity metrics and quality incentives for their region and program size. Along with being able to share the details of the program (current volumes, market potential, strategic initiatives, and succession planning), the recruiter must be able to discuss the details of the compensation structure in an informed way. Obviously, the specifics of dollars may not come into play during the screening stage, but there needs to be enough transparency to make it worthwhile for the potential physician candidate to proceed.
As the process continues, the organization needs to move forward in a way that assures the potential hire that they are serious in considering their candidacy. Every attempt should be made to present an actual LOI after the site visit and/or give clear timing on next steps to reassure commitment on both ends.
However, this offer MUST be consistent with the expectations set and the discussions that have occurred up to that point. This initial offer speaks volumes to the value that the hiring organization is placing on the physician and their desire to have them as part of the team. Any surprises or inconsistencies can derail a placement and cause immediate distrust to emerge. For this reason, Corazon always works with our clients to be sure that this LOI is what all sides are expecting, which lays a strong foundation for the forthcoming contract.
Following this step, all parties should be aware of the (reasonable) timeline for the presentation of the final contract and any concerns raised by the initial LOI. An open discussion with the physician can save valuable time and serve as a good faith-building step before the final contract is delivered. Corazon has a unique understanding of what specialty physicians expect, and from our vast experience in many markets across the country, we know how to be creative in meeting the needs of all sides of the negotiating table. We believe that all parties should essentially know in advance what’s going to be on paper before it arrives.
Finally, setting a timeline for a signed return date is key so the process doesn’t extend longer than needed, and the onboarding process can begin.
Overall, no matter what the hiring organization believes is the opportunity to join them, the financial needs and expectations of the specialty physician are of utmost importance, especially in rural areas, in programs where volumes or quality need a boost, or in extremely busy hospitals where on-call and weekend hours may be less appealing. Each hiring organization will have benefits and challenges that present in unique ways to candidates, but every vacancy has a fit! Finding that right person at the right time will do much to keep a program moving forward. But organizations must be smart about all steps of the process so that a “perfect” candidate doesn’t decline an offer because of a communication or expectation misstep at a critical point.