Recruitment is a difficult and vital process for all hospitals but is especially crucial for rural ones. As a whole the country is facing a physician shortage with an estimated deficit ranging anywhere between forty-five and one-hundred-twenty thousand physicians. Other qualified professionals including nurses, physician’s assistants, and business and administrative staff can be difficult to find and retain too. This has put pressure on healthcare practices to overhaul recruitment efforts and provide ever increasing wage packages and benefits in a marketplaces whose competition is only growing. The impetus is on hospitals to make themselves competitive recruiters to acquire the best staff possible for their communities. This document will briefly overview how to conceptualize your practice’s recruitment process to start catalyzing positive change.


Rural hospitals often lack two things that put them at an incredible disadvantage to their urban counterparts: (1) a dedicated recruitment team and (2) an organized recruitment process, usually due to a perceived (or very real) lack of resources to provide either.

  • Lack of a dedicated recruitment team
    Your recruitment team is the most important aspect of recruitment. Often, rural hospitals rely on a single employee, but this is unadvisable. Instead, having a core-team spearheading recruitment will improve the success of your drive.

    • Being able to answer 3 fundamental questions can help you decide if your current recruitment team is sufficient?
      1. Who from your staff and community comprise your recruitment team?
      2. Who picks up the phones when your primary recruiter is sick or on vacation?
      3. What redundancy is there within your process, how many people is an interested candidate able to contact?
    • Too CEO-centric – often rural candidates are told to contact the hospital’s CEO if interested, but this can lead to a host of issues. For instance, CEOs are often absent or busy or might change unexpectedly; a candidate inquiring at any of these times might go unanswered. If a turnover in leadership occurs, who does a candidate contact?
    • Recruiter troubles – often urban based recruiters are not able to accurately promote rural practices; contracting with a recruiter specialized in rural recruitment is advisable.
  • Lack of Organized Recruitment Process
    Having a defined process helps your practice appear organized and functional. A few things define what should be included as part of your recruitment, missing any one of these can jeopardize successful recruitment.

    • Initial communication with candidates should be at most 72 hours after initial application/contact. A quick-turn around time makes your hospital seem prepared and could make candidates more interested in your practice, which is likely one of many they have applied to.
    • Little stakeholder engagement can imperil your recruitment attempts; if a candidate does not feel like they are getting to know the community/business they are less likely to accept an offer.


A few simple steps will help you create a team that can successfully tackle the recruitment process.

  • Necessary but often overlooked tasks
    There are many ancillary tasks that might seem inconsequential but are critical to hiring the right candidate. Your team needs a member that:

    • Picks up the phone always (within business hours),
    • Makes relevant members of the community aware of recruitment efforts,
    • Assesses recruitment and retainment practices.
  • Define and assign roles within the team
    • Recruiter – the person that coordinates the recruitment process; in charge of setting deadlines and ensuring completion.
    • Contact Persons – the person(s) that are available to pick up the phone and respond to emails (remember: this should be a position with redundancies)
    • Coordinator – the person in charge of scheduling and ensuring each member of the team is kept informed.
    • Candidate Interviewer – the person(s) that are responsible for initial phone screenings.
    • Spouse Recruiter – one person that is in charge of all aspects of spousal recruitment.


Making your practice attractive requires defining and marketing the aspects that make you unique both to the community you serve and potential candidates. Doing this can seem difficult, especially for remote rural practices, but engaging with your employees and community members will greatly help to conceptualize what makes where you live special.

There are a few simple questions that will help guide this search:

  • Why do you work where you work?
  • What do you love about where you work?
  • Why do you live in your town?
  • Who are the most important people in town?
  • What does your town like to show off?