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The Top Six Communication Cues That A Physician Candidate Will Be a Great Fit for Your Practice.

You’re focused on ticking off all the boxes to make sure a physician has the appropriate credentials. Have you missed subtle (and not so subtle cues) that a potential hire may be a great (or not so great) fit?  During the interview process, communication is key.

Look for these in a great physician candidate:

1)    The physician has a style that meshes well with that of the practice. The physician who seems both comfortable and respectful of staff and other clinicians is likely to mesh with the practice culture, which ultimately means a more effective healthcare delivery team.  An entitled physician will make life difficult for patients, staff and administration fairly quickly. The restaurant test is still pretty predictive; if a physician is polite to the person serving him or her a meal when everyone goes out for dinner, he or she will likely exhibit a similar attitude with patients, staff, and other physicians.  The converse is also true.

2)    The “mission” driven physician, or did they drink the Kool-Aid?  Though true for all physician specialties, it is exceedingly true that primary care and even more specifically, rural primary care physicians, need to be “mission” driven when it comes to working with patients who may come from different or challenging backgrounds.  Is the rural physician candidate passionate about her desire, her need, to care for patients in rural areas?  From talking with physicians there is often a seminal moment in the rural-driven physician’s childhood or early academic life that begins a trajectory to a career in rural medicine.  During an interview this story may naturally come up.  If not, some probing such as “What led you to a career in medicine?” may prompt it.

3)    There’s the impression that the physician is engaged in everything going on during the formal and informal interview process.  The “tuned-in” physician candidate is exhibiting a skill likely to translate into all aspects of his or her practice.  That same physician will be valuable in physician-led committee work as well as serve as a real asset when it comes to community engagement.

4)    “No, you go first”- don’t mistake humility for weakness.  In many cultures a more deferential attitude is the norm rather than the exception; in working with physicians from other countries recognize that there are culturally appropriate ways in which a non-US physician may interact with patients versus that of a US born and trained physician.  If the general fit/feel is good, your gut-check moment tells you all you need to know.

5)    Confident versus cocky.  Confident physicians share their talents and achievements in such a way that their leadership abilities shine.  Confident physicians will give credit to others when it is due. The cocky physician’s leadership style is that of a bull-dozer – going straight through people and situations.  (If that’s actually the type of personality you need for a specific job, go for it! But understand that those personality traits typically don’t exist in a vacuum, and will probably carry over into all areas of a physician’s work and life.)  Otherwise, the thoughtful, confident physician whose “lead by example” mystique is contagious may be a better bet.

6)    A simple thank you will do.  A sincere verbal thank you can speak volumes about how likely someone is to be a compassionate caregiver as well as a great boss in your practice.  The lack of that small social nicety also speaks volumes. 

Most great physician recruiters do some variation of behavioral interviewing to take their physician interviewing a step further.

These tips come from 3RNet's South Carolina member, Stacey Day, MSW, LMSW/SC Office of Rural Health Director of Provider Recruitment.

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