What to consider when hiring a new urologist

June 1, 2009

With the current physician shortage, if you plan to bring another physician into the practice, you'd better do it right.

There's more to recruiting than getting the word out about your practice's needs and running journal ads. This article takes you through the process of bringing in a new physician, from examining your practice's needs and expectations to integrating the new physician into the practice.

Beginning the process

Start with examining your motivations. These might seem simple, such as addressing an access problem or replacing a retiring physician. For a solo urologist, it might be a matter of having a colleague with whom to share interesting or complex cases and offer a second opinion. If there's room in the community for one more urologist, why not? But first dig deeper to better understand the practice's needs and how best to fill them.

Set realistic expectations

It is important to realize that young doctors cannot fill the shoes of a retiring physician. For the most part, today's young physicians don't want to work the long hours and dedicate as much to medicine as a more senior physician does. In fact, new urologists care far more about their quality of life than they do about making a big impact on the medical community.

The practice may think it's a good time to bring in a female doctor, but are the existing partners prepared for the social, professional, and business impact of such a decision? The majority of female physicians want to work fewer hours than male physicians do. At the same time, they are in demand, so their schedules get busy in a hurry, sometimes resulting in reduced demand for the other physicians in the practice. Female physicians are also far less likely to take part in after-hours activities such as board meetings, hospital committee work, or schmoozing with other physicians and showing up at community events on behalf of the practice.

Communicate well

Communicating well is more than simply talking. It's listening, looking for signals when conducting interviews, and painting an honest picture for the candidate.

Before you start interviewing recruits, honestly list your needs, wants, and expectations, and the practice's primary strengths and weaknesses. Keep these under your hat when you do the first round of interviewing, but get the candidate talking so you can begin to determine whether she is close to meeting your needs.

Then, once you get down to the final round of candidates, get out your list and give these candidates the scoop. Have multiple conversations about the practice, the staff, the community, and the patients. Get the matter of "taking call" responsibilities out in the open. Ask about their experiences and expectations.

Talk about financial matters-not just the base salary, but future income considerations. Will income be tied to productivity, and if so, when?

If you want a good fit, you need to know as much as possible about the candidate, and they need to know about the practice. Open communication is vital from the get-go, both before and after you make an offer.

Post-hire steps

Once the decision has been made and the contract is signed, give integration details the attention they deserve:

These are important details to help your new recruit get started on the right foot and to support her contribution to the practice.

Urologists often are so busy managing their own patients and practice responsibilities that they leave the new physician on his own, and then expect him to succeed. During the first month, meet with Dr. New each week to see how well he is blending in, address any concerns that emerge, and give as much encouragement as possible. These open-ended discussions keep the lines of communication open and provide the level of understanding and support essential to encourage and nurture the relationship between the physician and the practice.

Judy Capko is a health care consultant and the author of Take Back Time- Bringing Time Management to Medicine . She can be reached at 805-499-9203 or judy@capko.com.