6 reasons these recruitment professionals can be invaluable in your job search.

Whether you’re a physician right out of training or you have a few years under your belt, conducting a job search can be daunting. There are many nuances to the process, from targeting the right options to making the right choice. It’s nice to think that you can do it on your own, even if you must elevate your game to be successful.

But you may have a valuable ally— in-house physician recruiters —to help you navigate the process. There are few initial people more important to your job search than the gatekeeper responsible for vetting your credentials and forwarding your curriculum vitae (CV) to the hiring parties who count. Yet recommending your name is only one aspect of this person’s potential worth to your work life.

Truth is, working successfully with any recruiter—either part of the organization or operating from outside—involves collaboration. You both have something to offer and something to gain. But when it comes to in-house recruiters, there are specific positives to the relationship you forge. Below are six quick reasons they might help you sort out your choices and head in a fulfilling direction.

Reason 1: They know the organization

Whether they work for large medical systems or independent multispecialty groups, in-house recruiters have a unique vantage point. First, because they’re part of the organization, they understand and can explain the structure, which can be complex and unclear. Second, by often focusing on specific service lines, they’re tuned in to the nuances of the programs and know their specialty provider teams. That familiarity allows them to deliver more than just the bare basics about an opportunity. They can do a deep dive for all sorts of information, tapping physician leaders along the way. If you’re the candidate, you’ll appreciate those connections since they can open doors for you.

For instance, as a senior physician recruiter, Christine Powers uses her initial conversation to address the quality of Spectrum Health’s physician team and the values of the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based network. Because her neurological and behavioral health candidates may not be familiar with the organization other than its large size, she wants them to know what makes the place tick. That includes describing the positive ways her employer handled covid. Her biggest mission is to provide a top-down picture of the organization. “I like to start at 30,000 feet and then drill down on the position,” she says. “I touch on the values, the vision and our leadership, to build confidence in who we are and what we do.”

What might that mean for individual departments and their leaders? Recruitment is so intrinsic to the business development efforts of psychiatry and behavioral medicine, for instance, that recruiters are part of monthly meetings focused not just on financial but also workforce issues. Given significant physician manpower shortages, bringing everyone together provides an opportunity for assessing and addressing those talent needs. As Subodh Jain, M.D., division chief of psychiatry and behavioral Medicine, notes: “We have found tremendous success in having our in-house recruiters as part of our business development,” he says. “It’s very beneficial to us.”

Reason 2: They’re committed to the mission

Besides being well-versed in the ins and outs of their organization, in-house recruiters usually have a vested interest in its patient care mission and long-term goals. Their objective is not only to find the right physician for the right position but also to tap one who will share an affinity. That requires not just being intimately familiar with what the position entails but also knowing and understanding the culture firsthand, not to mention being committed to it. If you’re on the same wavelength, you’ll appreciate the hiring team not only looking for a skilled clinician but someone who shares those same values with a similar long-term vested goal.

For instance, Shelly Van Vonderen, CPRP, and her Marshfield Clinic Health System physician recruiter colleagues not only have a pulse on the mission, but they know where a candidate might find a home. There are plenty of opportunities, given the network’s multiple clinical locations across northern, central and western Wisconsin plus Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Whether physicians want to settle in the clinic’s largest community of Eau Claire or send down roots in any number of farming towns, they’ll find an ally who knows the territory. “We’re 100% vested in the success of the organization, in finding the best physicians who will provide the best care for our patients in the communities we serve,” Van Vonderen says, noting that retention is the goal. “We want you to establish a rewarding, lifelong career with us.”

Reason 3: They have a GPS for matches

An in-house recruiter can be a critical asset in discovering if a department, group or practice will be a great fit for you. Obviously, you’ll have to do your own sleuthing. Asking well-crafted questions during initial and follow-up interviews is the best investigative tool for evaluating your options. But collaborating with someone who’s part of the organization—not to mention the community—can be helpful in channeling you in the right position, facility and community direction.

For instance, once Premier Health’s Eric J. Sedwick, MBA, CPC, CPRP, learns what a physician wants in a practice and lifestyle, he shares the information with colleagues. As system director for the Dayton, Ohio- based organization, he’s able to connect the candidate’s wants with the best openings for his or her specialty, skills and preferences. Since candidates often interview more than one site, each interaction, especially with potential physician colleagues, narrows the choices until a match emerges. Why is the winnowing so critical?

“Because at the end of the day,” Sedwick notes, “if a physician is happy in the job, then our patients will be happy too.”

Likewise, as senior physician recruiter for Indiana University Health, Emily Davidson, CPRP, and her colleagues are service-line specific. That is, they’re focused on searches in certain specialties, filling positions across the organization’s multiple campuses. Whether a physician wants a position in Indianapolis or is drawn to an outlying site, she has her pulse on the best match. By learning what candidates bring to the table, she can help determine how they can succeed. “I have skin in the game, so for me it’s less about filling a position with a warm body and more about finding the right fit for that culture.”


Reason 4: They’re team players

Although in-house recruiters carry the candidate vetting or screening load, they’re usually in lockstep with various physician leaders, especially those who’ll make the final hiring call. Being able to work in tandem with clinicians who understand the requirements of a particular position is a definite plus. How might that collaboration shake out or you? First, you’ll likely benefit from the fact that in many organizations, finding the perfect fit is a team effort, with all recruiter and physician leader hands on deck. That means priorities aren’t centered just on providing good information and resources — even though both are key. They also involve building good relationships often long before someone is looking for a job!

For instance, Marjorie Alexander-Vermeulen, MBA, CPRP, managing director of physician recruiting, describes the collaboration between ChenMed’s clinical leaders and her in-house colleagues as a major strength of the Miami-based health system. Recruitment is a large and ongoing part of each physician leader’s responsibilities, given its ever-expanding network. “We ask those clinical leaders to have a really, really, great relationship with our clinical recruiters,” she says, “because we strongly believe that those great relationships equal great results.”

For instance, as national director of primary care advancement, Daniel McCarter, M.D., plays various roles in the hiring chain, including serving on the organization’s clinical executive talent team. With a focus on building relationships vis-a-vis residency programs, he and his teammates recruit, train and retain physicians. That gives McCarter both indirect and direct involvement in lassoing quality people. A centerpiece of their efforts involves educating potential candidates, particularly those in primary care, about the organization’s value-based care model. “Our model can sell itself,” McCarter says of a coordinated medical approach that emphasizes improved outcomes. “We just explain what we do and if there are physicians who think it sounds cool, we want to talk to them. For those who are really energized by it, this is a good place to work.”

Reason 5: They can find answers quickly

Because they work closely with physician leaders and other powers that be, in-house recruiters usually have access to the right people with the answers. Since understanding the work environment is key to decision-making about any job, they want their candidates to learn as many details as possible. So, if they don’t have specifics on hand, they know exactly who can fill them in. If you’re that candidate, you’ll likely appreciate that someone is available quickly to answer your questions and shine a light on any gray areas that might give you pause.

The beauty of being part of Kentucky-based Owensboro Health, for instance, is that Jerry Price and his physician recruiter colleagues are familiar with the individual clinics/ groups and people who’ve initiated a search. It’s not only easy to connect with those who have the 411 on any number of operational fronts, but also physician leaders are often willing to give out their cell phone numbers so candidates can connect with them directly. It’s a reflection, says Price, of how engaged those same leaders are in recruitment. “I think that’s a positive when you’re talking to candidates,” Price says. “They don’t have to wait very long to get an answer.”

Reason 6: They touch futures

Of all the assets in-house recruiters— and their physician colleagues—can offer candidates, helping them sort through their options and goals may be most critical. Yes, hiring team members have a stake in finding great people to fill openings. But if they meet a candidate—or even a resident or fellow still thick in training—who’s uncertain about the right path or the perfect position, they’re usually happy to provide a little guidance. That conversation may start with the in-house recruiter and continue with a physician decision-maker. The conversation may or may not result in you finding a home there now or ever. Then again, if after you talk, you have a better sense of your short-and long-term goals, you may just see this place as your cup of tea.

Shawna M. Gelormino D.O., for instance, says one of the “cool parts” of what she does as part of the Nashville-based Envision Healthcare family is to help young physicians find that perfect job and practice environment. She cites her own “lucky” experience several years ago joining Envision Physician Services because the organization’s medical group was everything that she wanted as an emergency medicine physician—even though she didn’t know exactly what that entailed.

What Gelormino still finds “awesome” about her employer is that as she’s identified new objectives, she’s achieved her changing goals. What began as a busy practice life in one bustling community near family eventually morphed into her current full-time role with the medical group’s Envoy Team, a staffing option for physicians who like variety and facilities that need their skills. Gelormino works anywhere and everywhere she’s credentialed, which currently includes 17 places. Along the way, she’s also grown her leadership skills vis-à-vis Envision’s Disaster Response Team, an outreach program that mobilizes clinicians for emergency or other relief efforts across the globe.

Whether she’s describing working in a high-volume tertiary care hospital in Arizona or staffing a medical mission trip to Tahiti, Gelormino has a wealth of frontline stories to share with young physicians looking at possibilities for themselves. Whether through a recruitment event, a national conference, or just an initial conversation, she loves the opportunity to work with other physicians as they identify exactly what they’re looking for in a job. “I can really help young physicians learn about things that I had no idea would exist for me in my future, but that might be really appealing to them for their own futures.”

Final thoughts

Obviously, recruiters of all stripes are experienced in taking the first bite of the vetting apple. Whether they’re part of the organization or an outside independent firm—perhaps even paid on a contingency or retainer basis—professionals who make physician matches their stock and trade know how to screen people for potential success.

But when it comes to final outcomes, it helps when the person doing that initial legwork knows the practice or health network like the back of his or her hand. An in-house recruiter has a critical leg-up perspective by understanding the organization plus the clinical staff and patients as well. “I really think that the mindset is very different,” Sedwick says. “We know the culture. We know what we’re looking for and who’s going to be a good fit to provide the best care to the community and what it needs.” •