By Michael Krasman
When it comes to recruiting, the healthcare industry has more than its share of challenges. After all, attracting some of the most skilled, specialized talent in the world—physicians—is no small feat under ideal conditions. Add some unique twists and turns, and the task becomes even more daunting.
Like everything else in life, there are things you can change, and things you can’t. In the world of high-level healthcare recruiting, the key is to know what your challenges are—and what you can do about them.
Challenge 1: Demand Exceeds Supply
With unemployment rates down to record levels, many industries are already facing labor shortages. However, it’s particularly tight in the healthcare market. After all, the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act brought in a wave of 20 million newly-insured patients clamoring for healthcare.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that healthcare employment will grow 18% by 2026—the highest growth rate of all occupations. Furthermore, according to a 2018 physician workforce report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), that will equate to a shortage of 120,000 physicians by 2030: 14,800-49,300 primary care physicians and 33,800-72,700 specialists.
In order to stay competitive, healthcare organizations will need to find effective new recruitment strategies.
Challenge 2: Aging Baby Boomers
There are a record 50 million seniors in the U.S. today—a number projected to grow to 78 million by 2035. According to Pew Research Center, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. This growing, aging population will put even greater demand on the American healthcare system for the next few decades, magnifying the need for skilled physicians.
Exacerbating the situation: one-third of all currently-active physicians are boomers, too. Within the next decade, they’ll be age 65 or older—and how quickly they choose to retire may have a massive impact on physician supply. (On a related note, baby boomer RNs are already exiting the workforce en masse, retiring at a rate of 60,000 per year.)
Challenge 3: Little Incentive to Relocate
Many healthcare organizations are in the process of bolstering their employee benefits packages—insurance, paid leave, retirement plans—to help attract and retain physicians.
However, one area where many continue to fall short is to offer comprehensive relocation benefits—despite the fact that competitive relocation programs can be key in drawing talent to smaller hospitals and organizations as well as less desirable cities.
According to SullivanCotter, a consulting firm that specializes in rewards programs for the healthcare industry, the total value of relocation assistance for physicians generally ranges from $8,000-$15,000. Typically, these funds are intended to cover the expense of moving household goods and provide a travel allowance. A few healthcare employers also provide a temporary housing allowance and will guarantee the purchase of an unsold home.
However, what’s often missing from the equation here is a something that’s standard in corporate relocation programs: the relocation support services that make moving logistically and emotionally easier.
That includes connecting relocating employees with quality service providers, such as movers and realtors, helping them work through their to-do list, and generally troubleshooting problems that may come up along the way. While physicians have an incredible storehouse of knowledge, they may not know that much about moving.
“I don’t want our physicians to worry if the moving company is going to show up,” says the Director of Talent Acquisition for a well-known children’s research hospital.
“I want every one of their brain cells to be used on finding cures and saving children.”
A New Recruiting Tool for Hospitals: Relocation Technology
Despite the recruiting challenges they face, most healthcare organizations are looking for ways to trim costs, not take on new expenses. In the past, many hospitals may have avoided using relocation management companies because of the cost involved.
However, in the last decade, the relocation industry has changed. In addition to traditional relocation management companies—powered largely by assigned relocation consultants, who work with employees individually—organizations can now elect to partner with far more affordable tech-based companies. These companies offer user-friendly software that is augmented with help from live consultants as needed.
Such relocation software can not only guide physicians through every step of their move, but track their expenses as they go. It also offers them a network of preferred suppliers to use—while providing healthcare employers visibility into how these moves are progressing and what they cost.
When it comes to healthcare recruiting, there isn’t much that organizations can do to change the balance of physician supply and demand. Or turn back the clock for aging boomers. However, there is plenty they can do to attract the most qualified medical talent—and the solutions are easier than you think.
Michael Krasman is a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded five high-growth businesses over his fifteen-year career. He is currently the CEO and Co-founder of UrbanBound, a cloud-based Relocation Management Software company that is reshaping the way employers offer and administer relocation benefits to their employees.