Ten months after starting a search to replace a retiring colleague, internist Robert Olson, MD, has conducted just three interviews to fill the position, a far lower number than he expected.
Olson, an internist and president of Associated Physicians in Madison, Wisconsin, is turning to social media as one way to broaden his practice’s reach with candidates.
Social media is becoming more common in physician recruiting, particularly among large practices, experts say. Some practices are hiring staff to manage the efforts, while others increasingly expect a social media effort from outside recruiters. By getting beyond online job boards and recruiter cold calls, they hope to appeal to candidates even before serious job hunting begins.
So far, Olson isn’t convinced social recruiting will lead to faster hires, but he’s willing to give it a try. “It does seem to be the way younger physicians communicate and interact,” he says.
The practice has added a “work here” page to its Facebook account, which lists current job openings, and is looking at ways to add more employment content, says Terri Carufel-Wert, RN, director of clinical operations for the practice. The group also is mulling paid listings on social sites, including Doximity, in addition to listings on job boards it participates in through a recruiter.
Long recruiting times and physician shortages are the big drivers behind the rise of social media’s use in recruiting, says Helena Farabella, chairwoman of the advisory board for the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management.
“It’s slim pickings right now” for practices searching for candidates, says Farabella, an internal medicine office manager in Rockledge, Pennsylvania. “Practices have to get more creative and open up the wallet,” she says, referring to the costs associated with maintaining an online presence.
In a March 2017 report, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected a shortage of up to 104,900 U.S. physicians by 2030, including up to 43,100 primary care doctors. While demand for doctors is growing due to expanded coverage and an aging population, doctors themselves are getting older and retiring: more than a third are now 55 or older, and more than a third will be 65 or older within the next decade.
Creating a social strategy
The trend is spurring some practices to stop waiting for physicians who are actively job searching and instead use social media to cultivate candidates who aren’t necessarily looking but who might be convinced to switch jobs, or physicians who might be in the job market in the future.
Essentia Health, a Duluth, Minnesota-based health system with 2,100 providers in four states is spending about $300,000 annually on a comprehensive social media and online job board recruiting strategy, says Kris Olson, vice president of physician and professional services.
Olson’s in-house team includes nine recruiters and two full-time equivalent staffers who work exclusively in social media and online research to identify candidates for the roughly 100 physician openings a year that occur through growth, attrition and retirements.
In addition to buying physician lists from vendors, the team has cultivated its own database of 55,000 physicians that the organization sees as good fits, and they keep in touch with those doctors via email and other means, she says.