An effective physician recruitment effort owes quite a bit of its success to timing. Finding the right candidate when they’re ready to begin looking for their next opportunity, or having a need become apparent during a peak recruitment season, can both be helpful in filling an opening with the right candidate at the right time.
With the vast majority of physicians completing their training on set schedules and then going on to sign employment contracts in set intervals (generally 12, 24, or 36 months), there are times throughout the year where there seem to be a plethora of candidates and others where there are very few. In addition to quantity, the time of year can greatly affect the type of candidate that you will likely have access to, including things such as experience level, availability, and a host of other factors.
During the summer months, most recently graduated residents will have completed their training and used this time to travel, take a vacation, and relocate to where they have chosen to practice. The majority of residents by this time have already signed contracts and going forward will likely use this time to transition to any new opportunity due to their employment contracts. Because of this, the supply of available and qualified candidates during the summer months is usually small.
While most recent graduates and other candidates on the same schedule will be committed by this time, off cycle candidates often use this time to look for their first (or next) opportunity, as they often complete their training in the winter months. Additionally, some candidates who are just about to begin their final year of training use the summer to get a jump start on their classmates in looking for opportunities for when they graduate the following summer.
The months of September, October, and November are months known for having a large number of fellows and residents who are considering opportunities. This is one of the best times to find candidates to bring on during the summer and following fall as new providers that are coming out of training actively begin their job search.
December and January, while thought of by many as slower months for physician recruitment, are actually some of the best months to recruit practicing physicians. Taking advantage of their time off, many physicians use this time to look for new opportunities, peruse specialty journals (and their included job advertisements), and go through their email inbox (often full of emails with information on job opportunities). Additionally, the looming new year often causes many physicians to take a look at their lives and careers, and ask themselves if this is the year for a change. By making sure these candidates have your job opportunities in front of them during this time and taking advantage of their suddenly available attention, you can reach out to and connect with highly qualified candidates who can be convinced to make a change and possibly join your team.
This timing also gives an employer enough time to have the candidate interview with multiple individuals, come in for a site visit, and then make a decision before the end of spring so that they can relocate or transition over the summer. Far from being a quiet season for recruiting, the winter months can be some of the most productive of your year.
When spring rolls around, most candidates are already moving along the hiring funnel and have either signed contracts or are well on their way to. While this might seem like it would be a slow time for candidate sourcing, it is actually a prime time to recruit physicians. Many residents completing their final year begin their search in the fall, but some get so busy during their final year that they put off finding their next opportunity until the spring. Additionally, many candidates, both new graduates and experienced physicians, often have offers fall through at the last minute due to extenuating circumstances. This often leaves them scrambling to find another position, especially if they had already begun the process of preparing to relocate to their desired location.
While most recruitment efforts go through dry spells, it is important to be aware of the affect that time of year can have on a recruitment effort. Whether it is due to a reluctance to break their contract early, familial obligations, or just personal preferences, many physicians will only look for opportunities during certain times of the year. In order to keep these seasonal changes from adversely affecting your overall physician recruitment strategy, it is important for organizations to create a detailed manpower plan to plot out when they anticipate having a need and begin recruiting for it far in advance.