When hospitals plan the recruitment of new physicians into their community, whether into private practice or employment, resistance from the established physicians is not uncommon. Such resistance can derail one of the foundations of a successful physician strategy.

But the resistance can be reduced or eliminated if the process is managed appropriately. Given the significant resources involved in the recruitment and establishment of a new physician, and the opportunity costs if needed physicians are not recruited, such resistance should be avoided at all costs.

Resistance is most often a by-product of insufficient involvement by the medical staff in the planning process. If not involved, physicians will not understand the methodology utilized and therefore be suspicious of the recruitment priorities.

We have seen significant recruitment efforts sabotaged and boards not adopt plans because of physician leader objections. Months of effort are wasted.

Based on our experience at HSG, there are five principles that you must address to gain acceptance. By utilizing these principles, our plans have been consistently accepted by physician leaders in client hospitals.

1. Include Physicians on the Physician Manpower Planning Committee. Physicians who understand and support the entire process will be invaluable when it’s time to sell the recruitment plan to the medical staff. Your hospital should have an oversight group whose role is to guide the process. Physicians should play a significant role in that group.

2. Seek Physician Input on Needs. When evaluating the need for various specialties, weigh physician opinion heavily. They understand the needs of patients, the specialty consults that are hard to obtain, the follow-up care that is scarce, and the deficiencies in the medical community. Interviewing physician leaders for their input is important to this process. Inviting the entire medical staff to participate in a survey will likewise enhance the credibility of the analysis. A survey provides every physician the chance for input, and invariably reinforces support for the recruitment plan.

3. Be Transparent. Share all the analysis with any physician who has a concern or question. The physician inventory should be reviewed by physicians; the physician need models utilized should be reviewed with physicians; any model adjustments should be accepted by physicians. This step will help eliminate the perception that recommendations come from a “”black box.”” It will also avoid concerns that the hospital has “”cooked”” the recommendations.

4. Seek Input on Recommendations. Recruitment recommendations are the key output of the plan. These recommendations should be reviewed by physicians on the planning committee, and changes suggested by physicians to the recruitment priorities should be seriously considered if they do not conflict with community need. Plans gain greater credibility if the final recommendations are adjusted by the physicians involved, so do not be defensive about their challenges and recommendations.

5. Share The Plan. The plan and its conclusions are not a secret. Share them with the medical staff. If you have completed steps 1-4 above, influential physician leaders will understand, support, and help you sell the plan.

There is one caveat to the above guidelines — that you are utilizing a credible, rigorous process for defining physician need. If that is true, then following the above principles will almost guarantee that medical staff resistance will be minimal.