What to know when working with physician recruiters

By Jules Murtha
Published April 19, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Recruiters are on the lookout for physicians who possess the skills and cultural fit needed for the job, and who make an effort to provide patients with the best possible care.

  • While recruiters can offer insights regarding job availability and how you measure up to others in your field, they aren’t required to find the best job for you; sometimes their priority is to make a commission and move on.

  • Strong communication is key to ensuring you and recruiters are on the same page about the goals of your relationship and how best to achieve them.

Whether you’ve finished up residency or are still in the thick of that final year, full-time practice has never been closer. Like many in your position, consider working with a recruiter to get a better understanding of the market you’re entering.[]

To make the most of your post-residency recruiter relationship, have a clear idea what you’re looking for, what they’re looking for, and how good communication can help you see eye to eye.

What recruiters look for—and what to look for in them

If you’re new to working with physician recruiters, it’s helpful to know what exactly they’re seeking—and if you fit the bill.

According to an article published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recruiters search for physicians who are easy to work with.[] This could mean that both parties have common views about healthcare—or that the physician regularly answers phone calls from the recruiter.

Another important factor recruiters consider is whether the candidate has the necessary skills and procedural practices that the position requires. Coupled with cultural relevance, this plays a big role in a recruiter’s decision to work with a physician.

Autumn Radabaugh, a physician recruiter with Optum, pays close attention to how physicians treat her. “If they can be civil and have a good solid conversation with me, then they most likely treat patients and staff in their office the same,” she said.

It’s equally important to know what you should seek in a recruiter.

In an article published by WoltersKluwer.com, Heidi Moawad, MD wrote that recruiters can offer honest feedback about your odds of scoring the job you really want.[] They can provide concrete ways to strengthen your resume, and let you know where you stand against others going for the same job.

Job availability, income expectations, and objective data regarding patient population and competing provider groups in your area are all helpful information that recruiters can pass along, too.

But remember: You’re not required to take any job a recruiter lines up for you. Use recruiters as a resource, but keep other options open.

Common pitfalls

While recruiters can offer exclusive insights on your place in the market, be aware of their shortcomings.

For example, recruiters sometimes may not be capable of judging what type of work environment a job entails, according to Moawad.

On top of that, because they’re not exposed to the daily trials and tribulations faced by physicians, recruiters often lack sufficient understanding of what a good work-life balance looks like for doctors. As a result, they may present potentially unfair work arrangements.

Moawad also reminded physicians that recruiters may not always have your best interest at heart. At the end of the day, it’s their job to get you a job. As long as they make a commission, some recruiters don’t particularly care if a position is the best fit for you.

It’s also common for recruiters to get your information only for you to find out there’s no job available, or that the job is considerably underpaid. So use your discretion. Touch base with peers who can help you assess the situation.

The importance of communication

Making the most of a working relationship with a recruiter hinges on how effectively both parties communicate.

Physicians must identify exactly what they’re looking for in a new job. Then it’s on the recruiter to pass on appropriate opportunities, as noted in the article published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

In this article, Jill Clark, a senior physician recruiter at UCHealth Medical Group, spoke to the importance of recruiters touching base often with clients.

“We must communicate with our employed physicians and the operations team to ensure we understand what they are looking for in a candidate and that the job descriptions we create accurately reflect their needs, so we attract the right candidates,” Clark said.

What this means for you

When navigating post-residency employment, you may find physician recruiters helpful. They offer valuable insights regarding job availability, constructive criticism on your resume, and, of course, employment opportunities. They are, however, performing a job; remember that some may care more about their paycheck than your work satisfaction. Reap the benefits of working with a recruiter by maintaining honest communication about your needs, and what you hope to find in a job.

Related: Post-residency transitions: Next steps after rejection

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