The rapid growth of the physician presence in executive leadership capacities has led to a war for talent previously unseen throughout healthcare. As hospitals, health systems and large medical practices seek physicians for their leadership teams, whether it be CEO, COO, or a Dyad-administrative partnerships, it is readily apparent that the demand for these experienced physician executives far outpaces the supply.
Obviously, from a self-serving standpoint, we would always recommend a partnership with an executive search firm. Healthcare-specific search firms will possess access to information, databases and other candidate data that the traditional hospital or health setting does not. However, this is not a sales pitch, so we will not go down that path.
While there are no “silver bullets” in the physician executive recruitment world, there are several behaviors that organizations can model to enhance their position for both the short and long-term success. First, be nimble. Nearly every physician executive on the market is mulling multiple opportunities, so you must do something to make your organization unique. Certainly interview timeliness and availability are very important. Practicing clinicians often find it difficult to get away for interviews, so we have seen some clients that have traveled to the candidate’s site and held initial interviews there. Also, “weeks” and not “months” should be your goal for an interview timeline.
Second, creativity is a must. Quality physician executive candidates are in a strong market position and are on the right side of the negotiation table. Often, these physicians are leaving a highly lucrative practice to transition into full-time leadership, so whether it be unique practice opportunities (another topic in itself for physician executives) , top of market compensation models, bonuses or other perquisites, organizations must look for creative solutions to stand out from the crowd.
Third, seek and develop talent within your organization. There are thousands of practicing physicians that are looking for change, and it’s a given that you have some in your organization. These professionals no longer desire the traditional physician practice of thirty years of service and a quiet ride into the sunset. Instead, they are dynamic learners and view their practice as a springboard to bigger and better things. You should work to identify those talents and support them by offering educational assistance, nurture committee involvement and encourage other gateways to the leadership suite.
We expect that the market will correct itself over the next several years, particularly with the increase of accelerated advanced degree programs tailored to physicians. However, that equilibrium is ultimately many years off, and organizations can and must take aggressive steps now as the market for these physician executives only grows tighter