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The Frankenstein Approach to a Better Physician: Re-thinking Healthcare Hiring

December 17, 2015

In recent months, many clients are telling us the same thing. We must change the way we approach physician selection. Yes, they are using that term. It wasn’t long ago that a hospital would never think about “selecting” physicians. They are so hard to find that if you find one who is qualified and willing to come to your town, you rarely say no.

Think about famous fictional physicians. If you could build the physician we need for today’s challenges, what parts would you take to “build your beast” as Dr. Frankenstein would say? Our clients generally tell us they are looking for:

  1. House, MD – What patient wouldn’t want House’s critical thinking skills working on his or her dilemma?
  2. Dr. Quinn – Medicine Woman – Talk about adaptability! She moved from Boston to the frontier at a time when women physicians were pretty rare.
  3. Dr. Dorian from Scrubs – While he mostly makes us laugh, you have to appreciate his constant focus on patient-centered care.
  4. Hawkeye Pierce from Mash – Alan Alda’s character was mostly famous for his high jinks, but he was pretty innovative in the OR, working under difficult conditions with often limited resources.
  5. Bones from Star Trek – He was a bit abrasive at times, but when it came down to it he was pretty darn collaborative with Captain Kirk, Spock et al when it came time to save some distant planet.
  6. Marcus Welby, MD – A fine clinician, he demonstrated a leadership style we’d all do well to emulate. He always had the best interests of his patients, the hospital and those he mentored, in mind, was respectful and good at building consensus.

The wave of physician hiring continues. Bringing in the wrong physician continues to a costly mistake. Let’s face it, physician hiring will never be exactly like hiring for other positions. It is unique and finding a candidate can be difficult, but finding the wrong one has become too costly and painful. See our previous post about the “Shocking Cost of Physician Turnover”.

So how do we create this creature?

  1. Understand and define what you are looking for in a physician.
  2. Apply basic, sound behavioral interview techniques to delve into the behavioral competencies you are after; and
  3. Where possible, think about a physician hire like traditional companies think about an executive hire and apply the same approach.

Let’s face it, we can’t really “build” the perfect physician, but each of the characters listed above, in addition to their positive attributes, have some negatives (except for Marcus Welby, I suppose), let’s say you bring in someone with House’s attitude minus the critical thinking skills or Hawkeye’s renegade style without his clinical ability? You’ve done it already, haven’t you? What did it cost you?

Do you have a physician employment model? Check out our whitepaper to learn more about how to develop one!

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.