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When is it a good time to add an associate to your practice?

Recruiting Success Begins With a Good Plan -
Deb Collier, Director, Opportunities in Medicine in Indiana

Anyone who has embarked on the adventure of recruiting a physician will attest to the fact that it is very challenging work at the very least.  Location, patient mix, compensation, and call schedules are typical components of the practice description.  Yet many candidates will ask one question that is difficult to answer unless a vital plan has been developed.  “Why do you need me?”

In this article, we will outline the benefits of an annual plan, define the information that will be included and review examples of how to maintain a living document to assist in supporting future recruitment decisions.

Since the introduction of the Stark Laws in 1993, successful hospital and private group recruitment efforts have relied on a Manpower Plan or Medical Staff Development Plan to analyze the various factors that drive the need to recruit and define a community’s need for an addition to the medical staff.

A basic plan includes information that reflects the current region’s supply of physicians by specialty, the number of those that practice on the staff of the local hospital and those that do not.  This information is especially helpful for a specialty group who might rely on referrals from the area to provide the patient volume needed for a new associate.  Plotting out that information will help to determine if there is currently a sufficient supply of providers to meet the community need.

Review the most recent census information for the area.  List the various zip codes served by the practice and bundle them into regions and note the population of each combined region.  That is the first step in determining the physician to population ratio.

For many years, various organizations have published recommended patient to population ratios to use as guidelines in determining if a community has a sufficient presence of specific medical specialists.  There are several resources that provide these reports.  The oldest resource is Graduate Medical Education National Advisory Committee – GMENAC.  Published in the early 1990’s, this tool is nationally recognized. Other reliable resources include Medical Economics and the American Medical Association.  


Community Population

# of Providers

Staff Providers



Family Medicine






Adding in the market share percentage by specialty is also helpful.  This information is usually available through a state hospital association.  The statistics track each case seen in a hospital for care by DRG although some hospitals have opted out of the reporting.  Outpatient care provided by private physician is not reported.  With these facts in mind, this data is used as a guide.    Most planners will include at least 3 – 5 years of data to define trends, growth and decline of market share in each specialty. 

Once the statistical information is complete consider anecdotal information.  Do any of the providers practice less than full time?  Survey the practices in the specialty to determine the wait time for a new patient appointment and track what insurances are accepted.  Consider the patient demographics in the community.  Is there a disproportionate number of senior citizens or uninsured patients?  All of these factors will need to be considered to determine the optimal number of providers each defined community/region requires to provide access to each specialty.

A completed Manpower Plan provides a good road map to guide decision making regarding physician recruitment.  Like a good road map, it can be interpreted to reach the route that best meets the needs of the practice and the community.  And like a road map, the information will change from time to time.   If a physician retires or leaves the community, it is a good idea to pull out the plan for a review.  Most recruiters will update the plan every two years knowing that most physician recruitment searches will take at least six months or longer.  Recruiting success begins with a good plan.




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