Top Recruiting and Retention Strategies for Rural and Undeserved Communities

COVID-19 has interrupted workflows, retention, and recruitment processes. The way your hospital is run, how you communicate, the implementation of new technology, and how you interact with other management has been heavily affected. A typical recruitment strategy includes the generic flow of Find -> Hire -> Train -> Replace -> Repeat. This document will serve as a guide on how to reevaluate your recruitment for retention process and the process of revitalizing it through the R4R plan.

Part One: Planning and Preparation


  • Assess Need- Recruit the right position for your needs.
  • Gain Stakeholder Support- Ensure that your staff, community are on board.
  • Form Recruitment/Retention Team- Include members of your community (principals of the local schools, local bankers, members of the Chamber of Commerce).
  • Define Your Opportunity- Discover your Unique Selling Points (USPs). A fully defined opportunity will help you understand your facility’s strengths/challenges, help you define your ideal candidate, and help candidates better understand whether your opportunity is right for them. Think about why you work at your hospital. What drew you to it?
  • Define your Practice Setting: define your New Normal with COVID and COVID-19 responses (PPE), responsibilities, patient demographics, patient volume, practice setting, elaborate on your clinical/hospital facilities and medical staff, and explain what you are doing to keep employees safe. Does your community do some things better than others? Brag on facilities.
  • Define your Community: Your community can be the most unique asset in a candidate’s decision to practice at your facility. Define your local economy, its location, local organizations, shopping, education system, culture, recreation opportunities, and the demographics.
  • Define your Compensation and Benefits: What will the salary, income guarantee, fee for service, percentage, and compensation surveys look like? What about Insurance (health, dental, malpractice), PTO/holidays, retirement, life insurance, STD/LTD, education, and bonuses?
  • Define Your Ideal Candidate- Asses what strengths you need in your candidate.
  • Develop Recruitment Budget- Know what it is going to cost you to recruit.

Part Two: Sourcing for Candidates

Creating effective job ads can be intimidating and complicated. However, you only need one thing in a Job Ad: what matters to the candidate you are looking for. You do not need to state the obvious, such as that the candidate must be a graduate of an accredited medical school, calling a job candidate “the incumbent,” details about every aspect of the job, and very detailed descriptions about your organization and location. The  willwant to know that they and their family will feel a sense of belonging and be content, respected, and thrive in their new community. You can ease these concerns by providing your personal story with the community, express that their personal growth is as important as the growth of the facility and discuss if your facility offers loan repayment/competitive pay/compensation packages.

  • Generate Candidates- Sourcing for candidates includes writing effective job posts, using social media and packaging the opportunities you are offering. Posting the job ads on online job boards, virtual job fairs, with residency networks (send quarterly emails to regional programs, host “meet the residents,” and build relationships), referrals (use word of mouth), and recruiting firms can be very helpful. Be prepared with Zoom calls as backups if a virtual platform goes down and have information readily available to cut and paste in your chat with candidates about the job opportunity.
  • Writing a Good Job Ad: Include links to your website, photos of your staff/facilities/surroundings, maps and attractions, and a testimonial video from current staff if possible. Make sure the job ad is mobile phone friendly. Do not make the job ad very long with small print. Instead, use bullet points to express your needs in a candidate. Post cards, mail pieces, and non-strategic job postings have not been working well recently for recruitment efforts.
  • Tackle Social Media: Use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can share blog posts (reviews of your facility and services), job postings, events (fundraising opportunities), and resources from partners in your community on these social media platforms.

Part Three: Screening Candidates

With the current pandemic, the ‘traditional’ interview has gone virtual. Make sure your facility has an established virtual meeting format and prepare the staff for the virtual interview. Test your technology, make sure there are minimal distractions, provide a Tips Guide to interviewees prior to the interview, and remember that there will be generational differences in virtual interviewing.

  • Interview Candidates- Prep your recruitment and retention team. There are multiple approaches for interviewing, such as behavior-based questions, data gathering/fact finding, and open-ended questions. Behavior-based interview questions present an opportunity for you to find a cultural ‘fit’ for your organization.
  • Conduct a Credential Check
  • Interview the Spouse- The person conducting the spouse/partner interview should have excellent interpersonal skills, should know the community well, and should share a common background or interest with the spouse/partner. Gather information on their personal education needs, housing preferences, location of their friends and family, knowledge of the opportunity, and why your community interests them.
  • Check References
  • Prepare for Site Visits- Site visits are opportunities for interviewers to assess the candidate and for the candidate and family to assess the practice and community. Communicate safety precautions/expectations to make candidates and current employees feel comfortable, consider virtual tours, and set up Zoom meetings with recruitment teams/community recruiters.

Part Four: Follow up and Follow Through

  • Send Follow-Up Letters– Do this immediately after the site visit.
  • Follow-Up Negotiations
  • Develop/Implement Retention Plan- Learn the lifecycle strategies for employees including stay interviews, compensation surveys, onboarding (builds the foundation of the relationship), unique benefits, and satisfaction surveys.

Recruitment for Retention (Extras)

Retention success is possible in any geographic location.

  • Keep mental health a priority, communicate, be flexible, adjust PTO policies as necessary, continually update your Contagious Disease policy, and schedule routine check ins with your staff.