physician recruiting

An Inside View of Physician Recruiting: Brenda Lewis

Brenda E. Lewis knows her way around a radiology department. The owner of physician recruiting firm B.E.L. and Associates, Lewis has decades of firsthand experience in x-ray technologies, nuclear medicine, and radiology department management.

physician recruiting

“I’ve been in the trenches,” says Lewis, who now recruits in all specialties for healthcare clients across the US. “I worked in the hospital with physicians for twenty years. I worked in a cath lab. I did nuclear studies and x-rays. I was an in-house recruiter before I started my own business, so I understand in-house recruiting, and I understand physicians’ needs.”

You might say Lewis got her introduction to physician recruiting in the trenches, too.

Over twenty years ago, she was pursuing a degree in healthcare management while managing a radiology department in a rural Pennsylvania hospital – one of just two in the area. When the two hospitals decided to merge, Lewis moved to Assistant Director of Marketing.

Unfortunately, not everyone was happy about the hospital merger.

“All of the in-house based hospital physicians, except one, resigned,” Lewis recalls. “ All the ER doctors, anesthesiologists, pathologists and all but one radiologist gave their notice on the same day.”

Welcome to the world of physician recruiting.

The Diagnosis: Physicians Needed STAT

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Brenda Lewis, owner of B.E.L. & Associates.

Undeterred, Lewis spent long hours on the phone, networking, building relationships, and hoping those conversations would lead her to the right candidates—physicians who would be an excellent long term fit for the community.

“People were not using email back then,” she recalls. “There were no job boards, nothing like that. We were running ads, using recruiting firms, sending out letters, anything we could think to do. It was panic mode, complete chaos.”

But Lewis succeeded in finding the right physicians—thanks to a winning combination of persistence, innovation, and her genuine desire to serve her hospital, her community, and the physicians who would come to work there.

During her six years as an in-house recruiter, Lewis ushered more than 40 physicians into the hospital, taking great pains to ensure the doctors had everything they needed to get started and settled into the community.

“In addition to recruiting, I was setting all of the new physicians up in their practice, doing everything from buying their first pencil and finding their office, to setting them up with scheduling and computerized billing, sorting out interviews for their staffing, the whole gambit.”

Experience, Expertise, & Empathy in Recruiting

It is precisely this level of experience, expertise, and empathy that Lewis draws upon today, in her own physician recruiting firm.

“We’re trying to get the right candidate for the right spot and if we’ve found the right spot for a physician, we don’t send them to six spots next door. Consequently, we don’t make a lot of money like the big search firms. That is not what we are out to do. We’re out to get it right the first time.”

All of the recruiters at B.E.L. have a background of 25 years or more of working in a hospital environment, says Lewis, except for one.

“We specialize according to what our clients need us to do, because we’ve done everything.” she says. “If it means getting a physician an airline ticket, we can help with that, or if it means putting them together with one of the chief medical officers in an institution to talk about one of the new pieces of equipment being installed, we can do that.”

Satisfied Physicians, Healthy Communities

What makes all that hard work worth it for Lewis?

“Over the years, when you see the people you’ve recruited and how their practices grew, what they did to take care of the people in their communities, and how they complemented different physicians in their practice… it’s that feedback that makes it worth it.”

These days, Lewis is doing a lot of work with federally qualified health centers that are struggling to find quality doctors—especially in the face of the current physician shortage.

“At this point in my career, I really feel I need to help those areas that are in dire need and try to assist them. Salary is an important consideration for physicians, of course, but there’s a lot more to the job than making another twenty thousand dollars a year. There are other rewards to consider.”

The Search Starts with PhysEmp

To start her search Lewis often posts her new opportunities in PhysEmp.com’s physician job board.

“I post a job on PhysEmp.com and usually I get a list of several candidates very quickly—within twenty-four hours, there are possibilities. We start working those right away to see if any of them are good candidates and interested in what we have for them. It comes within 24 hours, in less than a day. And then as other doctors sign on, we get new candidates almost daily.”

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Lewis says she finds the site useful because it connects her with candidates who are actively looking.

“If I get a candidate from PhysEmp’s database,” says Lewis, “ They’re someone who’s really looking right now. I know they’re a sincere candidate.”

Advice for Young, Job-Seeking Physicians

If she could give a word of advice to young, job-seeking physicians, Lewis would advise them to ensure their people skills are up to snuff.

“My biggest recruiting challenge is when I have a candidate who really wants the job and the client doesn’t feel it’s a good fit for them,” she says. “On paper, their background and everything looks fabulous, and then they get to the interview and their personality clashes or they have a lack of people skills. It’s a people business. You have to click with the people you’re going to work with.”

Ultimately, says Lewis, she wants the physicians she works with to benefit down the road with a successful practice.

“I want the physicians I place to tell me at the end of the year that they’re really happy there and they’re so glad that we helped them find the right practice.” Says Lewis.

Based on her twenty-five-year track record of success, we’d say she’s meeting that goal.

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Interested in learning more about what B.E.L. & Associates has to offer? Browse all current job openings from B.E.L. & Associates.

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