Something is rotten with recruiting!

While excited about our newest expansion into Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, the recruiting experience as I form my new staff has been eye opening. There is such a relative shortage of hospitalists that there is almost a feeding frenzy by hospitals to offer up just about anything to entice a hospitalist to sign on the bottom line. It’s been disturbing to see competitors that have lots bigger bank accounts than this growing organization of mine throwing out large signing bonuses, relocation expenses, vacation time, and more to get docs, and that’s essentially where the market is right now. Many of those docs looking to make a quick loan repayment, however, find out quickly how life works when their new hospital makes them see 20 patients a day or finds ways to make bonuses unreachable without any recourse. There’s no way that I can compete against these deep pocketed organizations except by making sure that my message of quality and job satisfaction cuts through the dollar signs, and that is the part that really rubs me the wrong way lately.
Many young hospitalists have already taken full advantage of the market to make increasingly greedy demands because they know full well that someone out there is going to be desperate enough to give them what they want. So, over the past few weeks, I have had hospitalist recruits start conversations with comments like: How much are the bonuses? How many vacation weeks? When do I get a raise? I want full tail coverage from day one and am not doing any night call…and on and on. What ever happened to these questions: What philosophy does your group have? How will you help me advance my career and gain leadership experience? How will we do CME? How does the team get along? What effect will this job have on my lifestyle and family life? There have been no questions about quality of care or how the hospital is approaching changes in health care. These are all important questions and, in my opinion, way more important than how much you get paid for your moving van. Have hospitalists become hired guns? Have we already started to lose our way because of greed? I won’t even talk about locums docs, because they take all this to the extreme …talk about hired guns!
So, as you think about the next phase of your career and consider various hospitalist programs, look at the program, not the benefit package, as first on the list. We all have school loans, but, you know what? You are all going to pay them off no matter where you work. Therefore, wouldn’t it make more sense to work where you would have the best satisfaction, safest workload, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and overall best lifestyle? Money can’t buy happiness. As long as a group like mine is competitive with its salary & benefits, and AIM certainly is, then all of the intangibles that AIM offers should be very enticing to any hospitalist. I just hope most docs can figure that out when they rub the dollar signs out of their eyes. It’s not your fault though! Hospitals all over are throwing those dollar signs at hospitalists & many docs just can’t help themselves. Be smarter than that and don’t be fooled. When you make your checklist of plusses and minuses when choosing a program, I submit that salary should be no higher than the middle of your list. If you want it first on the list, I guarantee that you will get paid exactly what you want by somebody. Whether you get anything else out of that job besides a paycheck (headaches, frustration, and fatigue, maybe?) is another story. As the knight said to Indiana Jones…choose wisely.

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