3 Tips to Acquire and Retain Top Talent in the Physician Sector

Physicians are among the hardest candidates to recruit. Healthcare in general is a field that is stacked with competition with some openings taking months to fill. In fact, the ASPR In-House Physician Recruitment Benchmarking Report from 2015 states, “Advanced Practice searches were filled in 95 days, while Surgery specialties required 163 days. Primary Care and Specialty Care positions tended to be filled in 124 and 150 days, respectively.”

With those kinds of numbers, it’s easy to see that the ability to source and retain top talent when it comes to high-level physicians is incredibly challenging, costly and time consuming. So how can you stay competitive? Here are some ideas to boost your recruitment brand so that you can retain your existing talent and lower those scary time to fill numbers.

1. Reassess Compensation

Competitive compensation is often the most difficult item for a healthcare system to offer a potential hire. It takes a lot of delicate meetings to get around red tape and budgeting, but the fact remains that it is a major motivator for physician satisfaction and potential physician relocation. Are your salaries competitive? According to this article from Becker’s Hospital Review, the following were median compensation levels for physicians from 2014:

Anesthesiologists: $398,240 (0.9 percent increase from 2013)
Cardiologists: $425,000 (1 percent increase from 2013)
Dermatologists: $419,146 (1.9 percent increase from 2013)
Endocrinologists: $233,769 (0.2 percent decrease from 2013)
Emergency room physicians: $316,739 (5.2 percent increase from 2013)
Family medicine physicians: $229,607 (2.6 percent decrease from 2013)
Gastroenterologists: $471,336 (9 percent decrease from 2013)
General Surgeons: $380,778 (2 percent increase from 2013)
Internal medicine physicians: $237,548 (4.7 percent increase from 2013)
Neurologists: $268,096 (5.1 percent increase from 2013)
OB/GYN: $322,423 (3.2 percent increase from 2013)
Oncologists: $367,404 (4.9 percent increase from 2013)
Ophthalmologists: $380,600 (2.2 percent increase from 2013)
Orthopedic surgeons: $538,123 (2.5 percent increase from 2013)
Pediatricians: $232,097 (4.2 percent increase from 2013)
Psychiatrists: $232,750 (3.5 percent increase from 2013)
Pulmonologists: $304,367 (1.2 percent increase from 2013
Rheumatologists: $239,112 (0.5 percent decrease from 2013)
Urologists: $434,563 (2.3 percent increase from 2013

 If your salaries are under the average (and remember, this is 2014 data, so odds are you should consider offering more), it might be time to have a conversation with the budgetary decision-maker at your hospital. Earning and retaining top talent might be as simple as upping your compensation by a few thousand.

Interested in comparing your salaries with these numbers? Check out our worksheet!

Physician Compensation

2. Promote Company Culture and Perks

This is where the old cliché, “it’s not all about money,” comes in. Though compensation is important, so is workplace culture and perks. According to this Physicians Practice article from 2013, you can motivate your medical staff via the following:

-Providing a flexible work schedule
-Welcoming input
-Recognizing staff
-Offering career-advancement opportunities
-Implementing health/wellness options

Why are these motivators so effective?

Flexible work schedules allow physicians to enjoy their life outside of work. Though physicians can’t work from home like some other professionals, they may be open to pulling a longer shift for a few days per week in order to negotiate a long weekend vacation with their family. That sort of option is great because as it helps them to avoid physician burnout.

Welcoming input is key to any business. When new policies and systems are being put into place, consider involving your medical staff in the selection process and allow them to offer opinions. This will make them feel like their contributions are valuable and that they are a genuine part of the future of the hospital brand.

Staff recognition is an incredibly important element when it comes to overall career satisfaction. Positive stories, personal accomplishments and “wins” if you will, should be shared in any way possible so that the individuals know how proud you are to have them as a part of your team. A pat on the back may seem small (and it’s free!), but that kind of recognition can mean the difference between a long-term career at your hospital or a pair of important shoes that need filling.

Physicians want to know that they are investing in their future when they take any position. If you offer the opportunities for your physicians to take free courses, attend relevant conferences or move in a defined direction with regard to title or responsibility, they will see real value in working for your healthcare system. After all, employees at any company always have a goal in mind. If you can identify the career goals your physicians are looking to achieve and offer them ways to reach them, you’ll be considered an employer of choice.

Staying healthy is important to all sorts of people, but staying healthy for a physician is practically a part of their job description. Physicians Practice suggests either a ready-made health and wellness option or a more DIY approach. You could, “offer employee-led, after-hours yoga sessions, reimburse gym memberships, or encourage practice participation in local ‘fun runs’.” Health and wellness options are becoming more and more popular as they has been linked to better overall performance and better attendance.

3. Institute Inbound Marketing

The fact is, the physician recruitment market is getting more competitive on a daily basis and instituting all the perks and innovative programs in the world won’t help if no one knows about them. Though inbound marketing is can be “slow-burn” effect, it will help to build awareness of your overall recruitment brand in the long-term by building value-based relationships with the sort of hires you want in your healthcare system.


In conclusion, talent acquisition is an organically evolving process and if your health system wants to stay competitive, adjustments will need to be made regularly. If you’d like more information on successful talent acquisition methods we’ve employed for our clients, feel free to contact us.

Contact Mike Walsh