The ways, means and methods of Munson’s physician recruitment

The ways, means and methods of

Munson's physician recruitment

TRAVERSE CITY – It isn't always easy to entice doctors to work in our northern outpost. "Rural communities always have a harder time recruiting," says Dr. David McGreaham, Munson?Medical Center's vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer. "Look at the people coming out of training, their spouses – they're looking at urban areas."

Another drawback to practicing in the Great White North: our lack of ethnic diversity. "In many specialties, we find there are foreign-born or trained grads that finish up their training [in the United States] and want to practice in more ethnically diverse communities. We've lost a lot of candidates because of that. Even religious diversity,"says McGreaham.

The smaller the community, the more difficult the challenge is in luring phsyicians to it, says McGreaham, but it's doubtful there's a city in Michigan whose hospitals are having an easy time nabbing physicians these days.

The state's overall economy plays a role, but so too do insurance reimbursements: In 2009 the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation found that Michigan's Medicaid reimbursement rates were significantly lower than average; Michigan ranks 44th of 50 states in Medicaid reimbursement amounts.

To keep quality physicians coming, Munson keeps two full-time recruiters on staff who work not only for Munson Medical Center but the other regional hospitals under the Munson umbrella.

Each year, Munson canvases physician groups around the region to find out what they need, where they need it and bring those requests to the board's professional resource committee, which evaluates the requests with access-to-care issues. Once the board endorses the recommended plan, the recruiters hit the highway-literally and figuratively.

Along with the tried-and-true methods of placing phone calls and ads in pertinent medical journals, McGreaham says that more and more Munson recruiters are relying on the Internet, paying a fee to post on websites and databases that draw the specialists Munson seeks.

The recruiters' most successful approach? "We go get 'em," says McGreaham. Speciality society events and job fairs are key. "It still boils down to face-to-face."

Then comes Munson's ace in the hole: "If we can get them to visit Traverse City, it helps. We've got a very vibrant downtown, a nice medium-sized community, a cadre of good specialists and subspecialists, excellent facility, a high level of care."

But what of the smaller hospitals, in smaller communities, like Cadillac, for instance? Traditionally, those are tougher sells, says McGreaham, but he adds, "pay can be an incentive."

McGreaham hesitated to compare average salaries between physicians in northern Michigan and other cities and states. "You have to understand, most of the doctors that work here are in private practice, so their income is contingent on how hard they work, Medicaid issues and reimbursements … there's nothing unique to northern Michigan there." BN

Hiring Trends

Private practice,

not so pretty?

These days, many physicians are seeking to be employed by a hospital rather than to go into private practice – a departure from recent decades. Dr. David McGreaham, Munson?Medical Center's vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer, says the shift is a cyclical trend, and simply a matter of supply and demand ratios.

What's behind it? As reimbursement dollars struggle to keep up with the demand for certain specialties, it is getting more difficult for those specialties to survive in the fee-for-service environment of a private practice.

Shortages in certain specialty areas exacerbate the problem. If a community needs a specialty physician, but that community can't support a physician's private practice, those specialty physicians may seek employment – and a steady salary – with that community's hospital.

Munson's take on the trend? "Our philosophy is to support the private practice model as much as possible, but we will use whatever model we need to make sure we get whatever the community needs," says McGreaham.

Translation: Money talks. And McGreaham says Munson will offer recruiting bonuses to certain specialties as an incentive – typically to specialties it employs, sometimes to ones it doesn't employ.

"To have strong institution groups," he says, "is to our benefit."