In our last edition, we detailed why physicians are critical to the success of all healthcare organizations. The days of physicians being separate entities practicing at the hospital as an independent contractor are fading away. Now, physicians are not only responsible for the high quality delivery of care, but they also impact the hospital’s financial performance in ways not considered even a few years ago.
In this edition, we will examine the role “hire for fit” has in a large, academic medical center in the Midwest. This medical center has an all- employed physician staff, a medical school, and graduate medical education programs covering internships through fellowships, all with a world-wide reputation – and an equally competitive admissions process.
Because of their reputation as an excellent care center, this organization believed they were going to attract the best and brightest students and clinicians. What was equally important to them was their desire to attract people with values consistent with their dedication and collaboration to perpetuate their healing, intellectual, and patient-centered reputation.
Over the past several years they have developed a physician admission and hiring process focused on “hiring for fit”. They have a robust behavioral interviewing process. What makes them unique is their focus on admitting physicians to GME programs and as practicing clinicians that have a demonstrated history of exhibiting four behavioral characteristics consistent with the organization’s values.
The first is clinical excellence. This organization wants physicians with impeccable credentials, top of class grades, research and practice experience, and a commitment to professional society involvement. They ask questions in interviews to determine if candidates have demonstrated a propensity to teach, improve patient outcomes, and are lifelong learners.
The second is accountability. Physicians at all levels in this organization are expected to use their time and talents for the betterment of patient care. Participating in performance improvement processes, proactively making things happen to enhance productivity, and taking personal responsibility for both tactical and strategic results are behaviors that are identified and evaluated during the admissions/hiring process.
The third is collaboration. This organization has a reputation as not only a great place for patients but a workplace that values, develops, and encourages all staff at all levels. Physicians are a key component of how staff feel about their workplace and ultimately their level of engagement. Shared decision-making is a valued attribute. Group work, team-based patient care, and a willingness to communicate widely are values evaluated in behavioral interviewing sessions.
The last characteristic is humility. This organization is looking for physicians who are personally rewarded by being a part of a great institution and best-in-class patient care. Self-centeredness, seeking personal glory, and acting as though one is “above” others and the organization are disqualifiers for learning and working in this organization.
In addition to the usual applications, HR screening, and peer and leader interviews, physicians being considered for leadership or full clinical practice positions have an additional evaluation process on their road to a decision. This organization sends future peers to a candidate’s current institution where they interview co-workers and colleagues to more carefully determine if the candidate fits the profile of desired values and behaviors.
Remembering that “Past behavior is predictive of future behavior”, you can use the behavioral interviewing process to hire or affiliate with physicians that have values consistent with your organization. Benefits include a better staff and patient experience, less disruptive behavior, less turnover and a more collegial medical staff.
While your institution may not have the resources or the range of qualified candidates to do everything this case study organization does, their success sets a standard that we can at least aspire to. At Strategic Programs, Inc., we have a robust physician engagement survey process that can blend with and measure the application of your desired values-based behaviors. A baseline survey and follow-up could provide data that validates increased medical staff collegiality and thusly your efforts at better hiring.
In the next edition, we will present the process for designing behavioral questions for better physician hiring.