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Physician Hiring: How to Find a Selection System in 3 Easy Steps

December 17, 2015


In the hospital where I started my career, there was a sweet, elderly primary care physician on staff who, back in the day, he was proud to tell you, did everything, including delivering babies and minor surgery. One time every year he showed up on the OR schedule to perform surgery (and made the entire OR staff nervous)! If you need brain surgery, do you want Marcus Welby treating someone’s cold in the morning, and then working on your frontal lobe? Of course not. As the field has evolved, we’ve learned that you may want the guy who specializes in brain surgery . . . doing your brain surgery!

There is a science to selection. Decades of scientific research have shown how to identify the competencies that correlate with success, and how to predict performance during the hiring process.

Hospitals always say that their workforce is their most important asset. Yet, they continue to tolerate high turnover (higher than most industries – it’s not uncommon to see turnover of 30% and even much higher!) and staff that are incapable of realizing the vision of senior

Assume that you’ve realized that your selection process needs to improve. One solution is to simply start using any medicine or surgery in the book. Someone gets the idea that you should screen candidates for the behavioral attributes you value (assuming you’ve even done a good job of defining what those are). Well, you have an ATS or some other HR-related product/vendor – surely they have something you can use (and they’d be happy to sell it to you)? Someone else gets the idea that perhaps you can do a better job interviewing candidates. Well, just print an interview guide from the internet, right?

Sounds silly but this is exactly what some hospitals do! It’s a lot like having that PCP do your brain surgery. Cross your fingers and hope for the best. He’s a doctor, right? If your workforce is your most important asset, you may want to take a more deliberate approach. When considering selection, think about:

  1. Diagnosing the problem. Let experts evaluate your current system, and your current data, and identify what surgery you need – perhaps it’s minor or perhaps you need something more invasive.
  2. Choosing the right procedure. There is no such thing as a generic “brain surgery procedure.” You need that surgeon to perform a specific procedure! You have a nursing issue? You need a nursing-focused selection solution. Challenges with managers-you may need a different solution.
  3. Find an expert. Neurosurgeons have better results with brain procedures than do primary care physicians. Selection experts have better results than consultants and vendors who “dabble” in selection. Just because someone’s played the children’s board game, Operation – doesn’t mean you’d let them do your brain surgery!

Please stop by our booth at ASHHRA’s Annual Meeting in Denver, CO. September 22-25!

Interested in being an expert on physician hiring? Check out out eBook on Physician Hiring Essentials!



Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.