7 Steps for Successful Critical Access Hospital Recruitment


Healthcare unemployment currently stands strong at 0.00%. 

Earlier this week I had a great conversation with a Hospital’s Board Member to which we previously completed a CEO search. Our Client was a financially solvent Critical Access Hospital with a new campus and a devoted community. The hospital’s CEO was coordinating physician recruitment, exclusive of a firm, and HR was coordinating recruiting for over 15 open positions. The candidate result was typical of the majority of rural hospitals in America – very few and far between.

Rural America hospitals can no longer depend on the old methods of recruitment for successful results.

The Board Member and I reviewed the hospital’s website during our call and after doing a random comparison to other rural facilities; it was evident that there was an absence of “Maslow Base” for Rural America Recruitment. Thus, here are the go-to Steps for Rural Healthcare Recruitment:

  1.    Provider Recruitment – This is the most expensive recruitment protocol, whether it is internal or external. On the home page, there should be a 1-click process to connect a prospective provider with detailed information and a “click to connect” process. Keep it simple, don’t give every detail away and share the contact information of the individual who will ALWAYS return calls the same day and on weekends. The process for a  physician to click the home page, find more information, and execute an action step should take less than 60 seconds.
  2. Build a Staff Pipeline – Every hospital in America has an ongoing need for employees ranging from Staff RN’s to Medical Technologists. While every position may be filled today at a CAH; with 2-3 candidates retiring or resigning; small vacancies can become big recruitment problems overnight. The option to apply for future opportunities should be a recruitment constant. Build a mini-application wherein a Staff Candidate can apply online or express interest in less than time than it takes for a coffee break. When the inevitable turnover occurs, HR has an immediate starting place to fill the positions.
  3. Be responsive – If your HR department doesn’t have the bandwidth to return calls from baseline qualified candidates THE SAME BUSINESS DAY- adjustments need to be made. Set different priorities, involve the hiring managers or outsource to a firm that can run a 360 search or offers RPO services. If you can’t respond in the same business day you’ll never capture top talent on time and in budget.
  4.  Lead – If you want to hire top talent or acceptable talent, you need to lead the conversation. Know your objective every time you get on the phone, close the conversation by either going to the next step or stopping the process. If it takes more than 1.5 conversations to get to a Skype or an onsite, your “talent” is either desperate to be hired or you’re losing your best candidates because HR isn’t’ leading the process. Never get off the phone without scheduling a follow-up call in 2-5 days.
  5. Social Media – The most constant and unnecessary error is that CEO’s and Director’s of HR don’t have up to date LinkedIn profiles or have hospital Facebook’s that haven’t been updated since last Christmas.  Recently I noticed a CAH CEO’s profile that hadn’t been updated since she accepted a new CEO position over a year ago – And, she was spearheading physician recruitment. Your social media needs to be pristine, accurate, informative and timely. Nothing less than we would expect from top candidates.
  6. Reign in the Sacred Cows – My late Father was a hospital CEO. He later founded his own retained search firm in Seattle becoming a leader in healthcare recruitment for Rural America. He had a breathtaking office in Kirkland overlooking Lake Washington and an impressive team of 50+ employees. One of his consistent “bull pit” speeches was managing the search process on the lookout for the Client’s “sacred cows.” The sacred cows are the long-term employees, a board member and sometimes the wife of a CEO who has a disproportionate amount of leverage to his/her position. Their opinion carries an excessive vote and as the sacred cow goes so does the vote to hire or not hire great talent. Sometimes it’s subtle; the longtime and beloved Staff RN who can influence groups with a just a few words, a physician who is underperforming yet the CEO is nervous about disciplining or quite often a potential peer who sees the potential hire as a threat not as a valued colleague. People’s insecurities can tank the best candidate interview to hire processes. Hospitals who can manage the influence of the sacred cows will build a more diverse, dynamic and ultimately successful group.
  7. Know when to hire a firm – And do it quickly. So you need to fill a Director of ER position requiring a BSN and preferring a TNCC in less than a month… Do you post and pray? Do you have a pipeline of candidates? Do you know the cost of 1 onsite or 2 to interview candidates? Do you know how much overtime you will have to pay to fill the position internally for the duration of the search process? Does HR have the capacity to do all of the above and manage the marketing efforts to recruit viable, interested candidates?

75% of first time Hunter Ambrose clients retain us after exhausting other efforts and spending more money than the cost of retaining a firm.

Hunter Ambrose is a retained, flat fee firm with an average fee of 12%. Run the numbers when you have an open position – 100% of the time unless a hospital is hiring internally, the organization will spend more than 12% of salary midpoint in time, over time, unsuccessful on sites, advertising and quite often hiring a less than stellar candidate because they weren’t working with a national firm who can offer a dedicated, national search process. 

Recruitment in healthcare needs to be a process that is constantly re-evaluated and improved upon to compete with the most renown hospitals in America for talent.

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