Written by Rachel Cross

Recruitment strategies focus on the link between physician burnout and culture fit.

A recent LinkedIn study shows some powerful results for corporate America: 70% of U.S. professionals would not work at a leading company if it meant they had to tolerate a bad workplace culture, and 65% of them would prefer lower salaries over dealing with a negative workplace environment.

Hospitals are no different. Physician burnout rates are higher than ever before, and according to the Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2018, it is not because they are unhappy with their compensation.

Compensation was only fifth on the list of burnout contributors, while factors that can be attributed to an organization’s culture — spending too many hours at work or feeling a lack of respect from one’s employer and/or colleagues — were ranked considerably higher.

In Texas, where 35 counties have no physician, 80 have five or fewer physicians and 147 counties have no OB-GYN, physician recruitment strategies can have a direct impact on a community’s access to care. But those strategies often require immense resources — resources that hospitals, especially those in more rural areas, may not have internally.

chart of what contributes to physician burnout

Working with a Recruiter
Brent Barnacle

To bridge that resource gap, many hospitals turn to outside physician recruiters. Brent Barnacle, senior director of business development at Jackson Physician Search, works with hospitals to identify their needs and build long-lasting partnerships. “We look to partner with health systems, hospitals and clinics that need additional resources to recruit physicians and advanced practice providers to their organizations. As competitive as it is in today’s marketplace, it’s crucial to recruit the right physicians that are a great culture fit for the organization, will succeed in their role and will grow some roots in the communities they serve,” he said.

Jeff Turner

Jeff Turner, CEO of Moore County Hospital District, echoed the importance of finding the right culture fit. “We had a difficult search come up about a year ago for General Surgery, and we worked with Jackson Physician Search to fill that position. They took time to listen and understand the philosophical fit we were looking for and, within just a few weeks, sent us a short list of candidates — one of which now has a thriving practice in our community,” Turner said. “Shortly thereafter, we had an OB-GYN search come up. Jackson Physician Search, once again, produced another stellar candidate — one with ties to the Texas panhandle and who was in sync with our organizational values.”

“Over the span of one year, we’ve now had three successful recruiting efforts as a result of working with Jackson Physician Search. All three searches were conducted under unique circumstances, and all three providers have been or will be incredible assets to our hospital and community,” said Turner.

Part of the Team
Tara Osseck

Carly Clem

The success of the Jackson Physician Search/MCHD partnership didn’t happen accidentally, but because of a mutual commitment to communication and collaboration. “Jeff Turner and the Moore County Hospital District are a great representation of how well we can partner with facilities when communication is high and our client acts quickly when candidates are presented,” Barnacle said.

Teamwork is a recurring theme throughout the Jackson Physician Search team. Tara Osseck, senior director of recruiting, put it this way: “My most successful client relationships are ones where the organizations truly see me as an extension of the team. It works well when they allow me to do the heavy lifting on the back end or behind the scenes while the in-house staff focuses on the important front-end candidate management activities.”

Another senior director of recruiting, Carly Clem, said, “When we are engaged as an extension of the team, and there is open communication and transparency, the relationship is seamless. We can customize our process to meet the needs of the client, making it a true collaboration where we all have the same goals.”

Finding a Culture Fit

Today’s health care industry is continuously evolving, and physicians have more options than ever before. To be competitive and provide the best care for their communities, proactive hospital leaders must work through the process of understanding their culture and finding employees who will fit and, as a result, stay.

When it comes to physician recruitment, the culture at Moore County Hospital District is its most significant selling point. Turner emphasizes personal relationships, flexible work schedules and high quality of life. “Regardless of someone’s background, they want to know their caregivers truly care for them, want what is best for them and that we operate with honesty and integrity. So, we try to recruit people who are consistent with those values and then give them the freedom to spend time with their families and enjoy everything small-town America has to offer,” he said.

Dan Rixon

Dan Rixon, a recruitment specialist with Jackson Physician Search, explained that the hospital leadership’s emphasis on personal relationships and quality of life have helped create a strong culture of belonging at MCHD — one that potential hires want to be a part of. “The values at any organization come from the top down, which is why Moore County Hospital District is blessed to have Jeff Turner. He is an amazing partner in every sense of the word. He outlines his vision and gives us the autonomy to execute, knowing that we have the same goals in mind,” he said.

Recruiting is ‘Easy’

For Turner, recruiting for a rural hospital is “easy” — if you can find the right candidate. “If you can find someone who desires to live and work in your market and who shares your values, it’s not hard to show them why this is such a great place to be,” he said. “That’s where the recruiter’s understanding of your culture is so important. Once understood, they vet candidates for you — allowing you to focus on only those who best fit your needs. In my experience, Jackson Physician Search has done a great job of pre-screening candidates — by the time the candidate gets to me, I know they’re someone I would seriously consider for my community.”

Physician Retention Tips

  1. Focus on Making Good Hires
    Hire for fit, not to fill. Ensure your recruitment process targets individuals who already align with your organizational values.

  2. Develop a Culture that Feeds Retention
    Poor work environments and a lack of communication will alienate the providers you have on staff.

  3. Help Your Physicians Stay Engaged
    Engaged staff exhibit more loyalty to the organization, are better at working through issues and consistently put forth greater effort than employees who are not.

  4. Provide Personal Growth Opportunities
    Keep your physicians engaged by encouraging them to pursue the things they are passionate about.

  5. Allow for Career Advancement Opportunities
    Build a plan that gives your providers the flexibility to pursue their career goals — it will benefit your hospital and ultimately make them better doctors.

  6. Promote Work-Life Balance
    Engage your physician staff to develop solutions to reduce burnout. The Mayo Clinic’s model, the “Listen-Act-Develop” approach, is a good starting point.

  7. Compensation
    Medical school graduates are paying off student loans. Explore creative ways to ensure that financial pressures are not contributing to physician burnout.

  8. Encourage Time Off/Family Time
    A healthy family life can be a physician’s best defense against burnout and depression, and a supportive administration can help foster physician well-being.

This sponsored section is underwritten by THA Member Solutions. Jackson Physician Search has been endorsed by the Texas Hospital Association since 2012. For more information, visit www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com.