What Women Want: 5 Tips for Recruiting Female Physicians

As of 2016, female physicians make up just 34 percent of total physicians in the U.S. While these women have the same job descriptions as their male counterparts, they differ from many men in the medical industry in terms of the way they engage with patients, make career goals, and set work/life balance expectations. What does this mean for you as a recruiter? It means that female physicians are already a rarity and, if you really want to recruit them, you need to have a plan specifically for recruiting women, not just a general recruitment plan.

With the time and resources it takes to recruit, you want a solid strategy that reaches the right applicants in the right way. As you avoid catering your recruitment process to physicians in general, and instead think about how to effectively reach women, you’ll soon have a more diverse pool of applicants and a reputation for inclusivity. Incorporate the tips below as you approach female physicians looking to work at your health group.

1.Don’t stereotype

First step, folks: change your mindset. “People make assumptions and treat all women as if they are the same,” says Toniya Singh, MD. “Not all women want a family, not all women are married, and we all have different goals and situations.” Being mindful that each woman has different personal and professional aspirations will help you understand how to better recruit them.

When you speak with women looking to work at your health group, ask them about their goals. Don’t assume. Being open and conversational with them about what their work expectations are not only shows a level of respect, but also conveys that your health group is willing to work with them and help them achieve these goals. If appropriate, share your policies on maternity leave and whether or not you’re flexible with hours for physician parents.

2.Involve women recruiters

Next tip: use women to recruit women. You can do this in a few different ways. Use female recruiters, or even female physicians, to approach potential candidates about why they should work at your health group. They can give insight on what it’s like to work at your health group as a woman, what kind of benefits are offered, and suggestions for accomplishing personal goals.

Should you decide to hire them, give your new female recruits a fellow woman as a mentor. They can continue to discuss the above factors and help integrate them into your team.

3.Be flexible

This next tip can be applied to recruiting both men and women, but you can tailor it a few different ways. Between the work/life balance we see millennials prioritizing and the need for parents to take maternity/paternity leave or pick up children from school, flexibility is a hot option for any physician. These med students know what they signed up for—the medical field is a demanding environment. However, there are still ways to make physician schedules flexible, which will in turn improve your recruitment and retention rates. Here are a few opportunities for flexibility/accommodation for your female physicians, but should also be discussed with male physicians:

  • Pregnancy (avoid scheduling overnight shifts)
  • Daycare options
  • Bathrooms conducive to nursing babies
  • Family crises
  • Scheduling systems that fairly account for when a fellow physician needs a shift covered
  • Meetings scheduled during times that don’t conflict with daycare
  • Part-time hiring options

4.Sell the lifestyle

Your female recruits aren’t just considering a new place of employment; they’re choosing a new community, lifestyle and perhaps a new location to call home. Be educated on living options, school choices, community factors, and overall cost of living in the area. One study says that, “For women, highlighting the community was given more often as a successful recruitment strategy than financial incentive.”

The study also stated that, “…women in academic medicine tend to have personal partners of similar education levels, to move to accommodate partner career relocation, and to carry the major responsibility for household management.” If the women you’re recruiting are married, invite their spouse in on the hiring process, or at least speak with your applicants about how to involve the spouse. Don’t just sell your health group as an attractive career milestone, but sell the lifestyle change that will come about as a result of joining your practice or hospital.

5.Value interpersonal communication

Putting your best foot forward in female recruitment means choosing good communicators to sell your health group. Women view good interpersonal communication, including friendliness and level of interest in hiring them, as an effective recruiting method.

Not only is using these communication skills for recruiting effective, but also valuing them as professional skills can help improve retention. Barbara Victor, M.D. suggests valuing both technical and communication skills, such as empathy and collaboration. “Proficiency in these soft skills should therefore factor strongly into physician hiring, advancement, and peer review, and day-to-day expectations,” says Victor. In other words, look for female physicians that not only have both sets of skills, but value both in a workplace environment. Use these softer skills to recruit and cultivate a healthy work environment.

It’s no secret that men and women think and work differently. So why treat them the same when you’re recruiting? Incorporate these tips and talk to women at your health group about how to appeal to female candidates better. You’ll be well on your way to attracting, hiring, and retaining female physicians. For more help recruiting physicians contact us at www.physemp.com.

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