Recruiting new physicians

January 25, 2011

Consider how other groups recruit new physicians when you find your practice in a similar situation.

Q: We need to recruit a young physician and we have considered a number of approaches, including allowing the local hospital to manage the process, using a recruiter, or just advertising. What do most groups do?

A: There are many issues to consider in the decision of whether to expand a group. One assumes that these have been addressed and the question is how to recruit a new physician who will eventually transition to become a partner in the practice. The "hospital option" needs to be defined carefully to make sure that it is complementary to your business goals. Hospitals have recruiting functions that sometimes have contract stipulations that bind a new doctor to the institution rather than to your practice. Only a careful inspection of their programming will allow you to understand this alternative. If this is your main institutional affiliation and if you can define clearly how they will help and how their goals may complement your own objectives, this may be a good alternative.

Recruiters would assist under a form of contract that is either contingent upon their ability to fill the position or, more likely, under a retained contract where your group pays a fee for them to initiate a search. The cost here is generally between 20% and 35% of the salary for the first year of employment. If you do it yourself, there are now a number of new Web sites and Web tools to help an employer list a position, but everything takes time and the good sites generally charge a modest fee. Journal advertising generally includes a posting on the publication's Web site as well. It may seem cost-effective unless one considers the cost of the partner who is doing the work.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by A. Michael La Penna, The La Penna Group, a healthcare strategic and financial consulting services firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Send your practice management questions to