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Healthcare Practice Strategies - Winter 2015 - Before Making the Offer: Tips for Effective Recruiting

Mar 15, 2015

Finding the perfect match for your practice can take plenty of time, effort and money. Identifying viable candidates, pre-screening them and then hosting a memorable site visit are all part of the process.

Therefore, it's critical to make sure your house is in order before professional recruiting gets underway. Here are seven steps to follow before starting the recruiting process.

1) Start with some parameters. Take the time to outline what you are looking for in candidates — the credentials, characteristics and personality your ideal candidate will have. What would you like to see in terms of board certifications and fellowships? What age range is best? Do you want an entrepreneurial go-getter or more of a team player? Just as important, decide who will make the final decision about candidates.

2) Work out rough details. Think through the details, including how many hours your new provider will spend on office visits, specialty procedures, hospital rounds, hospice and nursing home care. At the same time, address work-life issues, which have become extremely important to the new generation of residency graduates. In addition to minimizing call requirements, decide whether your practice can accommodate a part-time schedule or job-sharing arrangement.

3) Structure the compensation package. Utilize benchmarking data from medical societies or consulting firms to create a salary structure that meets recruits where they are at in their career. For example, early-career providers tend to favor income guarantees, while mid-career recruits are often attracted to productivity bonuses and a clear path to partnership. Late-career providers, meanwhile, are often seeking market-based compensation combined with flexible or part-time hours.

Whatever the case, experts advise against setting too low of a base salary for compensation plans that focus heavily on productivity. Despite assurances that they'll make more money through productivity, good candidates can easily be scared off by a stingy base salary. Consider establishing a solid base rate and then easing new providers into the productivity formula.

4) Decide on benefits. Most practices offer health insurance, liability coverage and relocation allowances, plus several weeks of vacation and CME stipends. Debt assistance and signing bonuses can sweeten the deal. Just be sure to structure bonuses over time, as opposed to paying them in one lump sum. For example, a $10,000 sign-on bonus could be paid out as follows: $2,000 upon signing the contract, $4,000 when the provider starts work and the balance after six months.

5) Establish a clear path to partnership. Experts suggest allowing practice buy-in as early as possible. The typical partnership track is two or three years, but you can set your own timetable. You may state a specific purchase amount or indicate that the purchase price will be determined at the time of the buy-in. If the latter, explain how you will determine the practice's value and offer a realistic estimate.

6) Create an offer sheet. While you do not have to get into specifics right at the beginning, at least provide candidates with compensation and employment terms. That way, you avoid wasting time and energy interviewing candidates who are looking for more.

Consider creating a simple, one-page offer sheet that establishes a salary range (including productivity incentives), work hours (including night/weekend call), benefits (malpractice coverage, health/life/disability insurance, vacation, etc.) and the timeline and price tag for buying in. Also outline any restrictive covenants and make it clear which terms are non-negotiable. Then, present your offer sheet to the candidate as early in the recruiting process as is practical.

7) Have a draft contract ready. Draw up a draft contract prior to the site visit and have it ready. If the candidate is a good fit, an offer can be made at the end of the visit.

Don't Stumble at the Finish Line

The final step in productive recruiting is to draw up an effective, enforceable employment agreement. Unfortunately, the adage "get it in writing" often falls on deaf ears when it comes to employment and partnership agreements. Otherwise savvy providers decide it's cheaper and easier to trust one another than to pay someone to draft these documents.

To craft effective, enforceable agreements, you'll need an attorney who specializes in the medical/dental field. Likewise, when it's time to get a practice appraisal, be sure to work with a professional who routinely appraises healthcare practices.

Healthcare Practice Strategies - Winter 2015

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