By Thomas DeRosa, CEO, Physician retraining and return
Healthcare providers in the US are concerned about the lack of medical professionals to help patients. From clinicians to nurses to doctors, growing shortages are impacting care, profitability, recruitment and retention.
GPs are especially popular. According to the Association of American Medical Collegesthe US is expected to have a shortage of up to 48,000 primary care physicians by 2034. The Covid-19 pandemic only aggravated an already alarming trend.
Family doctors provide preventive care, such as routine checkups, and are often a patient’s first stop to address a specific medical problem. Family doctors treat people of all ages for many health care needs. When a specialist is needed, GPs refer the patient, but often remain involved as the first point of contact or coordinator of other specialists. General practitioners are the umbrella category of other types of physicians, such as family medicine, internal medicine and family medicine.
There are steps healthcare providers can and should take to build their GP workforce.
While approximately 83% of physicians are American Board of Medical Specialties or American Osteopathic Association board certified, 17% of physicians have alternative or no certification, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards. Hiring GPs who have different or no certification should be considered. To qualify for the board, a medical school graduate must complete a residency or fellowship of three to seven years, apply, take an exam, and meet other requirements.
However, there are plenty of qualified, experienced, and dedicated physicians whose paths did not allow for that extra training and thus did not qualify for board certification. There are numerous reasons why doctors are not ABMS/AOA certified, but they can still provide competent care.
Let’s think about that statistic in light of the critical shortage of doctors that healthcare providers face. If you run a clinic or hospital that needs more doctors to meet patient care demands, but you refuse to hire an experienced physician who is not board certified, you may be contributing to the shortage of doctors by causing more stress and burnout for your current doctors, while also failing to deliver much-needed quality care to your patients.
Conducting routine exams, checking for common problems, and helping patients make healthy choices are all important preventive measures that GPs help with. Expanding the physician recruitment pool by hiring a non-ABMS/AOA certifying physician will help healthcare organizations find more candidate options, including physicians who have a lot to offer their patients and colleagues.
I recommend healthcare facilities partner with retraining programs to ensure both the curriculum meets your needs and to have a recruiting pipeline. There are many programs that offer refresher and retraining courses for physicians who want to make a change or return to practice after a while.
Provide recruits with options to spend a week or two with doctors to ensure the hiring is the right one. Since burnout is a leading cause of the shortage, physician recruits want to make sure your healthcare facility has a culture they can connect with. Likewise, your current doctors and staff would love the opportunity to “fit in” a potential new colleague. This gives them buy-in, creates support and enthusiasm and boosts morale.
It also gives you the chance to see the candidate in action. Have the candidate interact with patients under the supervision of your current physicians. Allow the candidate to offer their ideas and solutions to current doctors, away from patients, to test their knowledge and skills.
Use creativity in recruitment ads to find candidates outside the preconceived mold or community. Businesses of all types, including healthcare providers, usually rely on job description templates. Not only do these often not provide specific details to attract the right candidate, they can also be quickly outdated. Take a fresh look at your job openings and look for ways to include more job details and adjust requirements to convey your organization’s culture. Check out your competitors’ vacancies for inspiration.
Once you have an updated job description, think creatively about where to place it. The days of posting to a job board and sitting back while qualified resumes pour in are long gone. Make sure you use more than one platform and integrate social media, especially Doximity and LinkedIn, into your recruiting activities.
By thinking beyond traditional job descriptions and qualifications and incorporating some flexibility into hiring approaches, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers can significantly expand their pool of qualified physician candidates. Your doctors, nurses and staff will be grateful that vacancies are filled faster and patients appreciate that their needs are met faster.