"Tis The Season”: Prepping for Your 2024 Physician Hire

By Nicola Hawkinson, DNP, RN, RNFA , founder and CEO of SpineSearch, LLC

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably aware that there is a shortage of medical professionals across the United States. In particular, a shortage of doctors and nurses has been exacerbated by practitioners leaving the healthcare industry as a result of challenges faced during the pandemic.

Another effect of the pandemic is that individuals have become more selective in choosing employment. Offering a job simply isn’t good enough in today's jobs environment. If you want qualified staff to enhance your business capabilities, you need to plan concrete steps to attract that staff.

If your hiring plan consists of placing some ads in May for a June hire, you are going to be, at best, disappointed and, at worst, placed in a difficult position.

Top Five Things to Know

Resume Review

Keep in mind that medicine is facing critical shortages of physician staff. You may not receive the number of CVs that you hoped for, and you may not be able to find your “dream” candidate. Accordingly, we recommend the following steps in the CV review.

  • Create a minimum requirement checklist: Before you start reviewing resumes, create a checklist of minimum requirements that candidates must meet. This will help you quickly eliminate resumes that simply don’t meet your basic criteria.
  • Look for customized language and messaging: Look for resumes that have been tailored to the specific position you are hiring for. Candidates who take the time to customize their resumes are more likely to be a good fit for your organization.
  • Red Flags: These may include gaps in employment, frequent job changes, or unexplained career shifts. These could be signs of problems.
  • Be demanding, not rigid: It’s important to be strict but be open-minded with your minimum requirements list. Don’t be afraid to consider candidates who might have been trained in less well-known locales, or who followed a different fellowship path.
  • Recognize unconscious biases: Be aware of your own biases and try to avoid making assumptions of any kind.

Initial Calls

The initial contact is an essential part of the hiring process, and it is crucial to ensure that you are asking the right questions and evaluating candidates effectively. Here are some hints to keep in mind:

  • Establishing rapport: The first step in any successful interview is establishing a rapport with the candidate. This involves creating a comfortable and welcoming environment that encourages open communication. You can start by introducing yourself and anyone involved in the first contact, and then asking the candidate to share a little bit about themselves.
  • Assessing qualifications: Once you have established a rapport with the candidate, it is time to assess their qualifications. This involves asking questions about their education, training, and experience, as well as their professional goals and aspirations. You should ask about their clinical skills and experience, as well as their ability to work in a team environment structured like yours.
  • Evaluating cultural fit: Cultural fit is an essential consideration when hiring a new physician. You want to ensure that the candidate shares your practice’s values and mission and is committed to providing high-quality patient care. You can evaluate cultural fit by asking questions about the candidate’s work style, communication skills, and approach to patient care.
  • Assessing soft skills: Soft skills are essential for any physician, and they are particularly important in a team-based environment. You should evaluate the candidate’s communication skills, leadership abilities, and emotional intelligence. You can also ask questions about how they handle conflict and how they work with other members of the healthcare team.
  • Evaluating clinical knowledge: Finally, it is essential to evaluate the candidate’s clinical knowledge and expertise. You can do this by asking questions about specific medical conditions, treatment protocols, and diagnostic procedures. You can also ask the candidate to describe how they would handle specific clinical scenarios.

By focusing on these key areas during the initial interview, you can ensure that you are evaluating candidates effectively and making informed hiring decisions. Remember to take your time and ask thoughtful questions, and don’t be afraid to follow up with additional questions or requests for clarification if necessary.

Arranging Site Visits: Do's and Don'ts

A site visit is an important part of ensuring a good match.


  • Be prepared: Have a clear plan for the day. This should include a schedule of activities, a list of people the candidate will meet, and any materials or information that the candidate should review beforehand.
  • Be welcoming: When the candidate arrives, make sure that you greet them warmly and make them feel welcome. Introduce them to the team and give them a tour of the facility.
  • Be transparent: During the site visit, be transparent about the position and the expectations that come with it. Be honest about the challenges and opportunities that the candidate will face if they are hired.
  • Be informative: Provide the candidate with as much information as possible about the position, the organization, and the community. This will help them make an informed decision about whether the position is right for them.
  • Be observant: Observe how the candidate interacts with prospective superiors, peers, and reports. Note their questions and interests.


  • Don’t be unprepared: Make sure you have everything you need for the site visit. Be sure to alert members of the team who should meet the candidate.
  • Don’t be unprofessional: Remember that the site visit is part of the hiring process, so it is important to maintain a professional demeanor at all times.
  • Don’t be misleading: Be honest about the position and the expectations that come with it. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
  • Don’t be disrespectful: Respect the candidate’s time and ensure you stick to the schedule. Don’t keep the candidate waiting or leave them waiting for long periods of time.
  • Don’t be uncommunicative: Ensure that your existing team is aware of the visit and your expectations and their responsibilities during the visit.

Compensation Package, Job Description and Contracts

A well constructed Compensation package is crucial in attracting and retaining top medical talent. The compensation package is a summary of all the ways that a company directly or indirectly pays employees. It includes salary, bonuses, health insurance, retirement benefits, and other perks. Here, we’re discussing the requirements for the MD compensation package.
  • Basic Structure: Compensation models have become less complex than they were in the 1990s, but it’s important to know the norms when evaluating practice opportunities. Most compensation models are primarily based on either a salary or a net- or gross-revenues basis, with some type of bonus or incentive component. Income packages for new physicians are typically by regional market factors and compensation surveys conducted by organizations such as the Medical Group Management Association, the American Medical Group Association, and the American Medical Association.
  • Healthcare Plan: A bundled healthcare plan can include various combinations of benefits, such as basic medical, dental, and vision coverage. Employers should be aware of bundled plan “red flags” such as first-year plan savings that result in high second-year rate increases. It is important to note that the specific benefits offered may vary depending on the employer and the type of position. For example, MD health insurance typically covers any surgical or prescription drug costs.
  • 401(k): A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan that allows employees to save and invest a portion of their paycheck before taxes are taken out. Employers may offer a matching contribution, which means they will match a certain percentage of the employee’s contribution up to a certain amount. Matching contribution 401(k)s tend to encourage employee loyalty.
  • Malpractice Insurance: In 2023, medical malpractice insurance should almost certainly be a part of any MD compensation package. By providing coverage, the practice can often negotiate better rates than an individual physician. The practice may also incorporate professional liability insurance at a practice level that protects healthcare providers from liability associated with wrongful practices resulting in bodily injury, medical expenses, and property damage. Insurance should also cover the cost of defending lawsuits related to such claims.
  • Hours, Locations, Call Schedule, Staff Oversight, Research Responsibilities: The hours, locations, call schedule, staff oversight, and research responsibilities may vary depending on the nature of the practice and the type of position. Discuss these details with the prospective employee to ensure that the job is one the physician truly feels will contribute to his or her professional development and provide satisfaction and enjoyment. Be sure to recommend that the prospective hire retain their own contract attorney to help them understand the agreement.

The bottom line is that you should have fully thought through the compensation package that you will offer an MD long before you’re sitting in the interview room. The details of your offer will of course vary depending on your needs and the type of position you are looking to fill. In 2023, MD’s have multiple options available to them. Your offer must be one where the physician truly feels valued and confident that the employment offered will contribute to his or her professional development while providing satisfaction and enjoyment.

Keep them engaged

It may be that you have other site visits scheduled or that there will be a delay in your final decision. Keep prospects engaged by:

  • Send a thank-you email: Thank the candidate for taking the time to visit your site. This will show that you appreciate their interest in the position and that you value their time.
  • Provide a timeline: If you have other candidates to interview or if your decision will be delayed, let the candidate know. Provide them with a timeline of when they can expect to hear back from you. This will help manage their expectations and keep them engaged.
  • Stay in touch: Keep the candidate updated on the status of their application. Let them know if there are any changes to the timeline or if you need additional information from them. This will show that you are invested in their candidacy and that you value their interest in the position.
  • Be transparent: If you are still interviewing other candidates, let the prospective candidate know. This will help manage their expectations and keep them engaged. It will also show that you are transparent and honest in your communication.
  • Provide feedback: If the candidate is not selected for the position, provide them with feedback on why they were not selected. They may be a fit for a future position.


A successful hire is never a question of good luck. It depends on appropriate planning, preparation, and follow-up. Using the previous tips will help you to effectively manage your 2024 physician hire. If you already have an internal personnel department tasked with managing your hires, you can confirm these steps with them. You may also consider retaining a specialist firm to help with finding and screening of candidates, and to guide you through the process.

Nicola Hawkinson, DNP, RN, RNFA, is the founder and CEO of SpineSearch, LLC, a premier recruitment and education source for healthcare professionals that serves individuals, practices, and hospitals.

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