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Physicians are instrumental in providing high-quality medical care in hospitals, clinics and laboratories. If you need a new physician for your clinic, we have some tips on how to hire a physician (whether through medical school partnerships or via a job posting site such as ZipRecruiter), what it will cost and the best ways to onboard.
What is a physician?
A doctor with a medical degree is generally called a physician. They are responsible for helping patients maintain and restore health by diagnosing, treating and studying diseases and injuries.
There are six core skills physicians must have:
- Patient care: Provide appropriate, effective and compassionate care
- Knowledge: Update their medical knowledge and skills as research advances
- Improvement and learning: Apply feedback and update practices as science evolves
- Interpersonal communication skills: Effective communication methods and a sensitive bedside manner
- Professionalism: Abide by the professional code of ethics and principles
- Improve overall care: Understand how to effectively work in the healthcare system to provide better care
There are two types of physicians: doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO) and medical doctors (MD). Both use surgery and drugs for treatment, but a DO's education focuses more on holistic care, preventative medicine and the musculoskeletal system.
Physicians provide general medical care or undertake additional research and schooling to specialize in a specific field. Some specialties include radiology, cardiology, internal medicine, infectious disease, psychiatry, pediatrics and dermatology. Specializing takes three to nine years, and sub-specializing requires a fellowship of one to three years.
What does a physician do?
Physicians diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. Other physician skills include:
- Examining patients
- Prescribing medications
- Keeping track of medical histories
- Giving advice on how to stay healthy
- Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
How to hire a physician
When hiring a primary care physician or specialist for your clinic, the culture fit is almost as important as a candidate's medical knowledge. To help you, we've narrowed the hiring process down to seven steps.
Consider the level of experience your ideal candidate should possess
As physicians move through education and training, they are categorized based on where they are in the process.
- Medical student: During the final two years of medical school, students study in a clinic-based setting, supervised by other physicians.
- Intern: After graduation from medical school, a physician is an intern during their first residency year at a hospital or clinic.
- Resident: After the internship, physicians enter a residency until the end of clinical training.
- Physician: After medical school and residency, physicians begin seeing patients independently.
- Attending physician: A board-certified doctor who supervises medical students, residents and fellows and has the final say in patient care.
- Chief physician: A physician in a senior management position who provides patient care and handles administrative and management work.
After finishing school and residency, a doctor who chooses to continue training is known as a fellow. Fellowships are required for sub-specialties like cardiothoracic surgery or pediatric neurosurgery.
Determine whether you need to hire a generalist or a specialist
The type of doctor you hire depends on your facility's goals. Patients often see a generalist when a condition arises, and the generalist then refers them to a specialist with the appropriate skills to treat the condition.
If your clinic provides general medical care, a family physician is best for patients who need primary care. If your clinic or office provides treatment for patients needing specialized care, such as pediatrics, dermatology or orthopedics, you must hire a specialist.
Write a physician job description
Physicians have very specific responsibilities and require extensive education and credentialing, so a physician job description template is a great place to start. A template saves you time by providing a physician job summary, a list of common job duties and responsibilities and a list of requirements and qualifications. Don't assume that job requirements are the same across all clinics and hospitals. Be specific about what you want in a physician.
After tweaking the template to match your job, add the perks and benefits that your company offers.
Start the recruitment process
Experts predict there will be a shortage of doctors by 2030 in both specialty and primary care fields. This makes the hiring process even more challenging. As the number of physicians declines, the recruiting process becomes more critical.
Physicians look for full-time jobs in the area that provide more than a paycheck. They value:
- Manageable workloads
- A work-life balance and regular paid time off
- Communication of perks and benefits
- Responsiveness to questions
Attracting the best physician is an active process rather than a passive one. We've put together some ways for you to consistently recruit so that great talent doesn't pass you by.
Medical school partnerships
A physician right out of medical school may fit your job description, and medical schools have job placement departments that help screen suitable candidates. Medical schools also have job fairs where you can promote your clinic or practice and meet face-to-face with potential hires.
Company career page
As a healthcare agency, you may not know the ins and outs of improving your career page to draw in the best physicians in the area. Whether you hire someone or learn how to create a better career page on your own, the critical elements are user-friendliness and clearly communicating your company's mission and values.
After advertising on your company career page, an applicant tracking system helps sift through resumes quickly. Best practices for using an ATS help you use artificial intelligence to find candidates who have the experience and credentials you're looking for.
Job posting sites
Job posting sites are excellent places to post jobs and recruit talent. Determine what the best job posting sites for employers are that match your mission and values. This process can be automated to save you valuable time if you use the best recruiting software for your needs.
When attending medical conferences and events to improve your career, expand your talent search and discuss possible candidates with acquaintances and professionals from other medical specialties. Many physicians will relocate to another state for the right price.
In job searches, networking is a valuable skill, and many people find jobs through networking and connections. If other tactics aren't working to find an ideal candidate, reach out to colleagues or others in the field to find a respected candidate to fill your position.
If you need to pass the recruitment process off to someone else, consider working with physician recruiters at a staffing agency. Most have excellent networking skills and connections and narrow down applicants so that you can interview the best. Because they all function differently, ensure you understand how staffing agencies work before committing.
Conduct multiple interviews with physician candidates
Hiring a physician requires a lengthy interview process you probably don't want to repeat. To make the most of each interview, tailor your discussion to specific medical and behavioral interview questions that apply to your facility.
In the first interview, quickly discuss the basics and ask some "getting to know you" questions. Consider using the following sample interview questions:
- Why did you choose medicine as a career?: Lets you assess the physician's values and long-term goals and gives insight into character.
- What other opportunities are you pursuing?: Gives information about what the physician wants from a career and what interests them.
- How do you facilitate collaboration between nurses, physicians and other colleagues?: Provides insight into a candidate's ego and their leadership skills and ability.
While meeting with your top candidates several times requires extra time and effort, multiple interviews provide many benefits:
- Candidates meet with more than one person in your facility after each round of interviews.
- Seeing candidates multiple times allows you to learn more about their personalities and if they will be a good fit for your clinic's environment.
- They allow you to see how physicians interact with patients once they have been screened and deemed appropriate for the next interview round.
- Upper management can meet the candidates after they have been narrowed down to a few rather than participating in each interview when they are extremely busy.
Carefully evaluate your contenders
After an extensive recruiting process and multiple interviews with your favorite candidates, it's time to evaluate the contenders and make a choice. It might be a good idea to run each candidate through a consumer reporting agency and look for obvious red flags.
Consider what your patients want in a physician. If time permits, conduct a patient survey. Use a physician rating scale or rubric to determine how a candidate stacks up with current physicians at your clinic.
Select and onboard your new hire
The next step is to keep them. A good onboarding process involves five crucial steps:
- Compliance: First-day paperwork and introductions
- Connection: Welcome a new physician to the office
- Clarification: Provide an onboard itinerary so that candidates know what to expect
- Confidence: Offer consistent one-on-one conversation for feedback
- Check-ins: Survey new employees to see how the onboarding process could improve
Onboarding is one of the most expensive parts of hiring talent, and the best way to reduce turnover is to understand how to retain employees and keep them happy. These tactics apply to everyone, from the custodial staff to the CEO.
What is the cost of hiring a physician?
Hiring costs include: recruiter's time, benefits and salary, advertising costs, staffing agency fees, interview expenses (increase if you fly candidates in from other states), relocation expenses, and time spent checking credentials and education.
The average signing bonus for a primary care physician is $25,100. Combine all costs, and the average cost of hiring a physician ranges between $300,000 and $400,000, including the physician's salary.
How much do physicians make?
Physician salaries are primarily based on experience and specialty and vary from state to state.
A general physician has a starting salary between $180,000 and $230,000 . Specialist salaries vary, with plastic surgery on the higher end and public health and preventative medicine on the lower end.
Salary also depends on the state. Tennessee has the highest national salary average, with Nevada and Hawaii being the next highest.
What qualifications, credentials, and education should a physician have?
A physician needs the correct state licensure, board certification for a specialty and completion of medical school and residency. Examples of organizations that grant specialty certifications include the American Board of Pediatrics, the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and the American Medical Association. All qualifications should be verified through the appropriate organizations.
From a patient perspective, bedside manner, communication skills and approachability are essential.
What is a physician assistant and should you hire one?
A physician assistant (PA) is a growing profession. PAs are licensed clinicians who have a master's degree combined with clinical training. They work under a physician's license and are supervised by an MD or DO.
By hiring a PA, you can expand your practice faster, accommodate more patients and increase revenue. The cost of hiring a PA is less than an MD or DO because of the differences in training and certification levels.
The downside to hiring a PA is that they can't practice independently like an MD or DO. A PA requires the supervision and approval of a doctor who completed medical school.
Summary of Money's how to hire a physician
Hiring a physician is costly for any clinic, but this plan simplifies the hiring process and shows you how to tap into your network and how to find great candidates. We encourage you to identify what you're looking for in a candidate before posting a job on sites like ZipRecruiter, use ATS to help you sort candidates and improve your interview and onboarding process to help retain team members.