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    Kathy Jordan
    Kathy Jordan

    With a skilled labor shortage and the need for various forms and levels of care, organizations now face a profusion of challenges to acquire new talent. To succeed, healthcare leaders will need to harness creativity, flexibility and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

    Key takeaways from 2018

    These trends from last year could have major implications for healthcare recruitment in the years to come:

    • Women are the majority of medical school applicants and enrollees. For the first time since 2004, the majority (50.9%) of medical school applicants were women.1 As healthcare organizations seek leaders who can improve care, engage with patients and evoke innovation, it will be important for employers to improve working environments for female physicians2 and provide more growth and leadership opportunities for female healthcare leaders.
    • Telehealth is growing and affecting recruitment. Telehealth, practiced in almost every specialty now, has become much more widespread than anticipated. But like all new technological developments, digital hiccups are common.3 Organizations must be strategic in managing the challenges and benefits of telehealth systems in ways that serve the needs of healthcare providers and patients.
    • Compensation is out in the open. Candidates and organizations have become savvier about compensation. Less negotiation is taking place during the recruitment process, and organizations are forced to assess and adapt payment structures to attract and retain top talent. When organizations offer competitive pay, they attract top-tier providers and reduce turnover among their workforce. In addition to offering competitive pay, organizations must also comply with regulatory guidelines as they continue to evolve. As a result, frequent and careful evaluations of current payment structures will continue throughout the industry to attract the best people and further business growth.
    • Payment models for a value-based world. With value-based care on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly important to implement quality- and outcome-related incentives in compensation. About 50% of compensation will be value-based rather than volume-based in the next 10 years. Healthcare organizations will continue to rely on population health leaders and healthcare industry consultants to strategically navigate this business model shift.

    What to watch for in 2019

    Based on some of the patterns and trends we’ve seen, here is what to watch for in 2019:

    • Continued consolidation: More mergers and acquisitions will take place. While some deals may not be cost-effective or essential to improved care, strategic partnerships and joint-operating ventures will continue to emerge. 
    • Recruitment focused on candidate satisfaction: Instead of one-off searches, organizations will need to compile candidate information into a talent pool of qualified professionals and maintain ongoing communication when new opportunities arise. Cultivating more comprehensive and long-term relationships with providers will help them feel appreciated, which helps them stay longer and ensures continuity of care for the population of patients they serve.
    • Medical school tuition cuts: As long as there is a burgeoning shortage of healthcare talent, universities will look for new ways to entice prospective students to attend medical school. Earlier this year, NYU became the first top-tier medical school in the United States to offer full tuition coverage for current and future students to aid the debt crisis faced by aspiring healthcare professionals.4 In years past, students who graduated from medical school with crippling debt pursued higher-paying positions in the field. That meant that lower-paying roles in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics and family care were left unfilled, contributing to the shortage. Other universities will certainly jump on the bandwagon to address medical school costs.
    • Recruitment for specialists amid an aging population: The number of aging adults and high-utilization patients far exceeds the number of physicians to care for them. Chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States; as a result, the need for specialists is significant. Today, a patient may require the assistance of multiple doctors and care providers. It’s become increasingly difficult to fill the gap in hospice and palliative care especially.
    • More residents will pursue locum positions: Instead of accepting a permanent position within an organization, many residents will pursue the locum route with the promise of better pay and increased flexibility. This trend presents pros and cons to organizations. While some hospitalists value locums for their ability to fill in when short-staffed, others consider them a “necessary evil” because of cost and quality of work. Most organizations rely on them, and the stigma against pursuing a locum position no longer exists.5 Therefore, the demand for locums and the benefits the position provides will continue to attract more residents/fellows — and contribute to the shortage — through 2019.

    Action steps

    Healthcare organizations will need to implement innovative solutions to attract top talent and keep pace with the complex healthcare talent landscape. Consider the following in 2019:

    • Invest in leaders: It takes more to succeed in the medical field than technical skills and expertise. Progressive organizations will attract and assess new talent who demonstrate leadership capabilities and strong emotional intelligence. Providing current physicians with the tools and space to grow as leaders will be equally important.
    • Implement innovative sourcing methods: Organizations need to draw from a diverse range of talent to address the growing shortage of physicians and caregivers. It takes personalization and relationship-building skills to get to know candidates and determine where to place them.
    • Improve employer branding: With infinite job possibilities, organizations must stand out. Physicians are at an advantage; they have the power of choice. Attract talented professionals by creating meaningful connections and establishing a clear and unique company culture.
    • Be open and flexible; think outside the box: It can be difficult to navigate this ever-changing industry but being adaptable and knowing when to seek outside help will provide competitive advantages.

    Quality, accessible care is needed, and institutions will continue to foster innovation to deliver. Healthcare professionals must think creatively, harness the power of technology and look for recruitment partnerships to acquire the right talent as they navigate the road ahead.


    1. “U.S. medical school applications and matriculations by school, state of legal residence and sex, 2018-2019.” Association of American Medical Colleges. Nov. 9, 2018. Available from:
    2. Jordan K. “Shifting gender balance: Physician shortfall necessitates changes in healthcare recruiting.” Jordan Search Consultants. Available from:
    3. Pearl R. “Engaging physicians in telehealth.” NEJM Catalyst. July 10, 2017. Available from:
    4. Doubek J. “NYU medical school plans free tuition for those studying to be doctors.” NPR. Aug. 17, 2018. Available from:
    5. “Locum tenens: Make it a permanent contingency expense.” Hospitalist Management Advisor. April 1, 2006. Available from:
    Kathy Jordan

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    Kathy Jordan 

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