Planning Ahead: When Expansion Plans Meet the Physician Shortage

Planning Ahead: When Expansion Plans Meet the Physician Shortage

24Aug, 2015

Planning Ahead: When Expansion Plans Meet the Physician Shortage


In today’s health care market, the vast majority of hospitals, medical groups, and health systems are all racing to expand and increase their market share. While the increasing demand for health care is real, many key decision makers in these organizations seemingly fail to realize one thing: there are not enough physicians to go around.


The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that there will be a physician shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 physicians by 2025. They also estimate that the greatest shortage will be in primary care, the same specialties that many organizations are seeking to recruit for. So how is an organization that is looking to expand throughout the physician shortage going to deal with these roadblocks? By planning ahead, being realistic, and broadening their horizons on whom they could bring on, organizations can continue to expand as they face the looming shortage.



Manpower Planning

Knowing where your organization is heading and forecasting needs (due to attrition and growth) is key to being able to successfully expand in a shrinking talent marketplace. While an organization may be tempted to concentrate solely on growth, accounting for turnover takes on a new importance in a shrinking market. A comprehensive manpower plan can empower recruiters in regards to finding which programs and specialties to focus their relationship building on, the content they need to produce to attract certain specialties of candidates, and which existing employees to lobby for referrals.



Getting Ahead of the Curve

When looking to expand in specific specialties, it is important to realize the extended recruitment cycle for graduating physicians. Today, nearly half of all graduating residents and fellows begin looking for opportunities a full year before they would be able to begin. For organizations who are slow to respond to projected needs, or for recruiters who are solely reactive to their physician recruitment needs, going after graduating residents (or even practicing  physicians stuck in a contract) can seem out of the question. But by aggressively pursuing these candidates, physician recruiters can get ahead of the competition and fill needs before they arise. 



Loosening Requirements

Whether it isn’t considering DOs, having strict training requirements, or refusing to consider advanced practitioners for certain positions, many organizations are needlessly limiting the pool of candidates they can conceivably hire. While these strict requirements may have been feasible before, as the number of candidates available remains stagnant in relation to the growing number of needs, these requirements have begun to hamstring organizations seeking to expand. Instead of creating narrow corridors of candidates that would be considered acceptable, organizations eyeing expansion will need to loosen their requirements. By considering osteopathic physicians, opening primary care positions to advanced practitioners, or focusing on fit and quality of care rather than specific training, organizations can continue to expand while still maintaining the high quality of care their patients have come to expect.


Key Take Aways:


  • Don’t limit your talent pool needlessly
  • Pusue candidates ahead of your estimated needs
  • Make sure to have a specific plan that will empower recruiters to pursue candidates