Monday, July 30, 2007

14 Must Know Facts about Physician Recruiters

Physicians are not well informed about job search methods and about recruiters, about how they really work and about their limitations. Residents in particular lack awareness of the disadvantages of working with recruiters. Graduating residents are just stepping out of an educational, basically helpful environment. They are naive in business matters and rarely understand the economical pressures that shape recruiter behavior.

The fact sheet below was developed after years of personal experience with physician recruiters, based on being a candidate looking for a new job as well as an employer looking to hire a new associate for my practice. I am writing specifically about contingency recruiters, and that these facts and rules do not refer to retained recruiters, in-house recruiters or locum tenens recruiters.

Recruiters will deny all of these facts or at least try to gloss them over. Many actually will claim to be proud of avoiding one of the drawbacks below, which is ...just marketing. I leave it up to you whom to believe: a physician without any financial interest that reports out of personal experience and research, or recruiters who defend the living they make based on marketing slogans.

Also consider that there are always the "exceptions that confirm the rule". There are those recruiters that market less "aggressively", that really care about you, that do visit the practices they represent, that are straightforward about what they are able to accomplish and what they cannot, but that does not change the big picture I am describing.

As much as recruiters may try, as nice or good hearted or ethical or hard working or well-meaning they might be, some facts will never change:
a. recruiters are hired and paid by the employer
b. they charge a $ 20,000 fee for their services and
c. they only get paid after closing the deal.
These facts lead to all the consequences and problems described here. I am not trying to indict recruiters, I am describing the basic framework they practice in.

1. Physician Recruiters are hired and paid by employers to fill a vacancy. They are not hired nor paid by the candidate. This is much more important than candidates think! Their loyalty therefore is to the paying party, the employer, not to the searching candidate. They do not get paid to consider the desires, careers or preferences of the candidates. The candidate is useful as far as he or she fills the job the recruiter gets paid to fill. A recruiter for example will never "negotiate a salary" for you, as some claim. You really think they will go against the employer who pays them and create higher costs for them? When it comes down to it, recruiters are not on the side of the job seekers. They are on their own side: closing the deal and getting paid.

2. Recruiters charge $ 20,000 to fill a position. This is the biggest handicap for recruiters, something that no recruiter can overcome. This creates a barrier to hire them. This places recruiters at a severe disadvantage compared to you, the physician, when you are looking for a job and applying for a position. You come without the price tag and instantly are more attractive.
Obviously you could argue about the significance of those 20K. Maybe the hiring hospital is flush in money and can afford to spend it, maybe they consider physicians valuable enough to spend that kind of money on recruitment, maybe the loss of revenue with an open position is even more expensive, but 20,000 are still 20,000. Maybe the yearly collections of the physician (neurosurgeon) dwarfs those 20K, but to me as an ObGyn it means about 8 complete "9 months of prenatal care plus delivery" and to a family physicians it means seeing a whole lot of patients!

3. 80-90 percent of private practices refuse to work with physician recruiters, since they are very expensive. The usefulness of recruiters in medicine is reduced dramatically by the fact that they cannot reach that 80-90% of the job market - which is most of the private physician job market and pretty much the whole job market in desirable areas.
Keep in mind that 50-60% of physician jobs are filled through networking, 10-30% through advertising by employers on Job Boards and 15-25% by recruiters. What kind of help can you expect from someone who can only reach 20% of possible jobs?
What do recruiters do in response to this? They tell you that those areas are "oversaturated" and try to lure you to under served areas, where recruiters do get jobs.

4. What does a day in the life of a recruiter look like? Recruiters are salespeople and spend their days on the phone. Recruiters spend part of their day cold-calling practices, groups and hospitals to see if they are interested in their services. Then they pay large fees to NTNJobs, eHealthCareers and numerous other Internet boards to post job descriptions. Then they spend a few hours each day cold calling physicians, sending fliers, postcards or e-mails to program directors, specific departments and numerous physicians fishing for applicants.
Candidates will usually respond to recruiters by e-mail, submit their CVs and recruiters then forward these CVs with names blacked out to the potential employers.

Recruiters love to give you the impression that they have resources or skills that you don't possess, yet, once you see what they actually do, you realize that you can do it perfectly well on your own. No, they don't have secret sources in high positions; they just want you to think that. Unlike what they sometimes claim, most recruiters do not visit practices and they do not get face to face with physicians. Usually they work nationally and seeing offices and physicians means travel and would be very time consuming and expensive.

5. Most recruiters subscribe to a background database, usually the NAPR "Job Bank". Paying subscribers store short profiles of jobs and candidates in these confidential, recruiter-only databases. Since thousands contribute to these databases recruitment becomes more efficient due to sharing of resources and combining efforts. "Maybe my candidate fits your job". Fees are usually split between the recruiter who has the candidate and the one who has the job. This is the same model that Realtors use. When a recruiter says "we personalize a search for you", (I love that slick line) he means that he enters your name in the recruiter background database and checks if there is a matching job for you. The only problem is: the whole database is filled with left-over and hard-to-fill jobs.

6. Occasionally recruiters market themselves as "screening candidates and practices carefully" to give themselves an air of quality. Based on my personal experience I doubt this. Screening does not fill positions and only filling vacant positions gets them paid.

7. Recruiters are first and foremost salespeople, not helpers. Given the fact that recruiters only get paid their $20,000 if they close the deal, they are highly motivated to sell.
This explains their behavior:
They contact as many physicians as possible per day, hoping to find the one that can fill the job. They try to convince you that the jobs in "Desirable city" are not so desirable and that the countryside jobs they have actually might be better for you.
Recruiters loose interest in you immediately if you insist on a job in very desirable area or if you are looking for part time jobs. Their chances of getting paid in all these scenarios are very low and therefore the interest in you vanishes.
Because of the pressure to sell and the strong competition, all too often the candidate becomes just a number, a meal ticket, a means to fill the job, to close the deal and get paid.

8. Physicians can easily find 2-5 times more jobs than the best recruiter. Doctors have been the target of marketers for a long time. They are all listed in multiple databases. List of doctor contact info can be easily bought from a large number of sources, some of them in a few minutes online. Check out! Since physicians are so easy to reach, candidates do not need any help from recruiters. Medicine actually does not appear to be an appropriate field for recruiters.
Please refer to my blog for excellent information how you personally can find more jobs than any recruiter.
Physicians applying to an employer without a recruiter do not have a 20,000 price tag attached and they immediately become a preferred candidate. Recruiters vehemently deny this in public, but admit it privately. In the end recruiters are more of a distraction and burden to a job seeker rather than a benefit.

9. Recruiters are not "free for the candidate". This is a common marketing myth. Yes, the employer formally pays the fee. This fee is "recruitment cost" and therefore part of the overhead, the expense, caused by the candidate. The employer will recover this cost from the employed candidate in one way or another. Getting a job through a recruiter usually means a lower salary or fewer benefits, at least in the frist year.
Although, the true price of working with a recruiter is less visible and much higher: you get a less desirable job!

10. Recruiters may have many jobs, but they do NOT HAVE GREAT JOBS. Here I have to declare my own bias. I consider jobs in attractive, large cities "great jobs", an opinion that not everybody shares.
No matter if we talk about city or countryside though, the recruiters tend not to get the best jobs. The most attractive jobs are never advertised and are filled by word of mouth or direct mail. The moderately attractive jobs are advertised in print and on the Internet. Only those jobs that employers just cannot fill, even though many physicians look at them and decline, are handed over to recruiters to fill.
Recruiter told me" We get jobs in areas where there are more jobs than applicants" and "The function of recruiters in medicine is to fill the less desirable jobs", and Pam Pohly, another recruiter writes "Recruiters get the hard to fill jobs". Do you really want one of those jobs?
Ask yourself before talking to any recruiter: Do I really want a less desirable job?
After all, why would any employer pay 20,000 to a recruiter if a job can be filled by word of mouth of with $400-800 of advertising in a few journals?

11. Physician recruiters advertise using their own language: "easy access to", "a short drive to" means the locations is 1 to 2 hours from an attractive city. "Easy access to city A and B" is even worse, this job is in the dead middle between 2 separate suburban areas. "A great place to raise a family" means there is absolutely nothing to do in that town. If you are single, you are dead!
Much more important is what recruiters do NOT mention, such as high turnover of associates, low salary, high-buy-in and other hidden drawbacks.
But how can a recruiter find out in a 10 minute phone conversation what goes really on in a practice or hospital? They can't and the candidate is the one who suffers the consequences.
Recruiters sometimes "forget" to mention drawbacks of jobs, since that disclosure would hurt the sale.

12. Recruiters advertise insidiously by masquerading as "job search experts" and "advisers". This kind of marketing is much more dangerous, since it is often not recognized as the advertisement it is. This misleading marketing includes posing questions such as "How do you choose the recruiter that is right for you?” The implication of this question is that there is actually a recruiter that is right for you. Posing this question is similar to "Should I shoot myself in the left or right foot?" NO, you should not shoot yourself at all, and NO, you should not use a recruiter at all!
Often recruiters post tidbits of helpful info on their websites, such as links to licensing boards, short "5 points to improve your CV", but that is all marketing fluff to attract you or to make your CV more marketable. They will never give you advise how to best find a job - outside of recruitment. That would be bad for business and would threaten the basis of their existence. Therefore this info is never complete nor truly useful. In the end is only a means to get you as a client. Nothing wrong with that, you just have to be aware.
Anytime you read - anywhere - that someone recommends recruiters or even considers them a good alternative to networking, you are dealing with either a recruiter or someone who just has no clue about how the job market works.

13. Recruiters are NOT advisers, helpers, career counselors, CV writers or job market experts. They are usually neither qualified nor versed in any of these matters. They may read a lot of CVs, but that does not make them experts at writing or editing them. They will not take the time to go over your CV and advise you. They check your CV mostly for one single question: Can I sell this candidate?
They are not experts in the job market, even though they spend their time trying to fill job vacancies. Recruiters know only a small segment of the job market, the segment that is available to them. Do not trust their opinions in that matter, their opinions are shaped by the marginal 10-20% of jobs they are aware of.

14. Worst of all: recruiters do not disclose their limitations. They will not tell you that they cannot get jobs in desirable cities and locations. They will not tell you that they cannot get jobs with desirable practices. They will not tell you about alternative ways of finding jobs. This is a serious ethical issue - imagine a physician not treating a patient, just because he personally is unable to perform a certain surgical procedure! We send our patients to someone else who can help them. Recruiters never do that. Physician recruiters simply tell you that the great areas where you are looking for a job are " oversaturated". In reality this is a code for "unreachable for recruiters who charge 20K to fill a job". They will never tell you: "Just mail a letter to every doctor in Desirable City and you will get a job", because this might threaten the foundation of their existence. Imagine all physicians just mailing letters to eployers and getting jobs! Instead recruiters tell you "Call back in a few weeks, maybe I have something then". The obvious idea is to keep you as a client and maybe get that commission later, in blatant disregard of what you want and need! I consider this a lack of responsibility towards clients.

Summary: AVOID physician recruiters!

The better way to find a job is a simple and very successful method: mail a letter containing your CV with a cover letter to every physician of your specialty in the area where you want to work. You buy the list of contact info online from e.g., then load it onto your computer and mail-merge it with your cover letter in Word. Voila - hundreds of personalized letters addressed to every single physician in your area of interest. Most successful!!
See my previous blog post for a detailed description.

How can all this come up after recruiters have been serving the physician community for 20 years?
Personal computers and then the Internet have changed our lives. Contact information for physicians, once hard to find and expensive, can now easily selected and downloaded on the web within a few minutes. A PC can easily produce hundreds of customized, personalized letters and the new Internet fax services allow us to fax a letter to thousands of doctors with a few clicks.

That, together with Internet job boards that are becoming easier to navigate and with physicians and hospitals becoming more computer savvy, leads to a future of job searching directly without middlemen. More and more candidates will contact employers directly and

So, what keeps recruiters in business?
It is those employers who sadly do not know how to find candidates and those employers who do not have the personnel to recruit themselves. It is those colleagues who pay recruiter fees, who allow recruiters to pay for their advertising avalanche on the web. It is all paid by us, the physicians! This can change! I have described in detail the know-how that employers need to recruit successfully. Please check past posts in my blog for this.


The Independent Urologist said...

Good stuff!

Anonymous said...

What a bummer to stumble upon! And what a lot of energy expended on being so negative!

Edmund Burke: "I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people."

Despite your gratuitous remarks that some recruiters may be ethical, or nice people, or whatever, you don't really believe that, do you?

Jim Stone said...

I have racked up 1,200,000 on American Airlines alone, visited practices in every state in the US and placed hundreds and hundreds of physicians in opportunities in communities ranging from Seattle to Tampa and Dumas, TX to Willmar, MN. I get Christmas cards every year from physicians thankful for my efforts and enjoy the work I do and the value we provide to both candidates and clients every day.

Your broad generalizations and seemingly definitive knowledge of the physician search industry are simply untrue. I've been doing this since 1995 and while your characterization may be accurate for some firms in my industry, they are inaccurate and unfair in at least one case.

You might try to use less-sweeping terms and language in the future.

ObGynThoughts said...

Thank you for your comment, Jim! From what I read on your blog I believe you are different and you do stand out. That might be one of the reasons why you are serving on the ethics committe of the NAPR. As I have written before, I respect you.
Nevertheless, your services still cost 20,000 and you probably do not get those attractive in-town jobs.
And what do you think about my request to refer clients on to other sources as we refer our patients to other physicians that can help them better?
Your Matthias Muenzer

ObGynThoughts said...

Dear Anonymous:
1. It would have been great to hear some kind of factual argument, such as: "I know a recruiter who recommends direct mail to candidates whom they cannot help" or " I know recruiters who clearly disclose their limitations, who make candidates aware that they cannot get jobs in a particular area"or" I know recruiters who actually read candidate profiles and make sure that they only send them relevant emails". That would have been good!
2. I am sorry about the negativity. "Now, recruiters call the shots on the Internet" a recruiter wrote me recently! He is right, the sheer number of recruiter websites is absolutely overwhelming. 99.9% of physician job sites on the web are "Hurra, recruiters have all the best jobs" websites. Balance is sorely needed.
Before I started blogging, Google could not find anything at all if you searched for "criticism physician recruiter" or "drawback physician recruiter". Graduating physicians deserve to hear the other side, they deserve to read the "14 Must Know Facts about Physicians Recruiters", for all the reasons contained in that post.
3. And no, I am not "indicting a whole people". I agree, I should have clarified that point. I do not mean all recruiters. I am writing very specifically about "contingency recruiters". Retained recruiters had no problem telling me that they "never get jobs in Desirable City", they were helpful with statistics and tables and other information. They were straightforward and open, no games, no sales tactics, no disappointments. The same goes for in-house recruiters and Locum Tenens recruiters. No games, no disappointments.
4. Of course, the positive message is much more important! Dear Anonymous, had you read my blog a little further, you would have found that I write extensively about the best methods of job search, which is direct mail and networking. I describe in great detail how to do it youself, and I often mention that there is a company that can do all the legwork for you - for a fee, "".
I also write about what I call passive job search methods, which search engines (e.g. Indeed) journals, magazines and webistes (NTNjobs and eHealthcareers) are helpful and worth checking regularly. I write whom to contact, I write about creating Google Alerts, about using Linkedin. I also write about other helpful information, such as links, other websites discussing job search ( and about books (What Color is your Parachute) on the topic.
And now, Anonymous, please show me one single recruiter website that gives only half as much useful information about finding a physician job than my blog! Where is it? Show me! My blog offers more help than any recruiter website, even!
Is it not the "mission of recruiters" to "help doctors find the best jobs"? At least that's what they advertise...
So, where is the help to find the best jobs on recruiter websites?
I mostly see sales...the point in question!

Jim Stone said...

I appreciate your comment that you respect me. You've quoted me pretty liberally and I'm going to come back to some of your previous posts later, but for the moment, this post has spurred me to post a 14-part response at I'm flying to meet with a client in Central Washington on Monday and will be back late Tuesday so I may not be able to make progress early next week.

ObGynThoughts said...

Hi, Jim
I am reading your post with interest. I also will be on vacation and may be delayed in a response.
It is good to hear from you.
Your Matthias Muenzer

Anonymous said...

Maybe a recruiter can clarify for a stupid MD like me WTF is worth $20k in what they are doing?

Great post! The reason recruiters still exist is the same reason why spammers don't go away: many stupid doctors who answer their spamming emails. How dare they cold-write to an email address they bought from a medical association? I am so outraged it takes a special effort not to right back FU every time. I just report them as spam to Gmail, each and every time.

Anonymous said...

All excellent points!! They gave me the runaround in 93-94 when I wasn't board eligible/certified. One came to meet me at St Louis airport wearing dazzy dukes! Gad they're bigger whores than the Drug Reps.

Young punks are the worse.

Tell them "I think I'm doing Geri fellowship."

"Doc tell ya what why don't let ME make YOU a LOT of money and den after dat if you still feel like you can do your fellowship1"

That's Chutzpah. My years of nerddom and slavery made me that money not THEM.

And if youre having problems where youre at one well known firm "we'll treat you sooo well in Hibbing Minnesota!" When I demurred "well get in your CV in case they don't like someone from university of mexico." ahhh the joys of being IMG.

one caveat there is one firm where YOU pay THEM 1500 b/c they send hundreds of cvs and "not like headhunters." but I can do THAT myself!

Anonymous said...

I was interested to know if you were able to find a job in the location that you wanted without a recruiter's help? Did not working with a recruiter improve your ability to get a job?

ObGynThoughts said...

Dear Anonymous (who posted the question "did not working with recruiters improve your ability to find a job" on December 10th 2010)

It not only improved my ability, it was the only way to find a job in Miami,exactly where I wanted it. The method consists of mass mailing your letter of interest and CV to ALL PHYSICIANS IN YOUR AREA OF INTEREST. This method is described in great detail under "Best Method" in the right upper corner of your monitor screen under the red letters "Info on Physician Job Search". Very detailed - and free - and it works.
Good luck!

ObGynThoughts said...

Anonymous - I am so sorry, I took it down. But you can find it in a slightly shortened form under WIKI-HOW "how to find a physician job"

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Anonymous said...

Agree with your blog, after attempting to work with several recruiters I finally decided to not do so again. I've been given advise by a recruiter that "not everything has to be on contract such as work hours or call schedule; that some things can be talked over, trust me"......
I think they are used to using the inexperience of new graduates to their advantage.

DK said...

As an account manager for both technical and healthcare recruiting, you failed to mention that we as human capital professionals have personal relationships with physicians, hiring managers, human resources as well as the job seeker.

We understand our clients' environment, what characteristics they look for in a candidate, understand how to craft a resume to highlight experience to match a job requirement as well as how to prepare the candidate for the job interview and broker any type of wage requirement. We hold relationships with both the employer and job seeker and both relationships are of equal value. Most of us professionals are not transaction based.

There are lots of benefits to using a human capital firm. Medical institutions and job seekers respectively are not in the employment business. They do us the honor of being in the saving lives business.

Typically, Medical Institutions do not hold the ability to create effective, attractive advertising for their open positions and job seekers typically are not skilled in marketing themselves above the norm. Can a job seeker randomly fax or email their resume to an employer? Absolutely! If they want their uncrafted resume to be on file, in a database or mixed in with many other applicants.

I'm not sure what used car lot you may have worked within, but you're not accurate to your assumption of the healthcare talent industry at large. You might as well rant about the loosing proposition of selling your home by owner rather than with an experienced agent. Respectfully, D.K.

Yellow Doc said...

A $20,000 fee is considerably less than I would charge for a typical physician placement.

I'm not going to bother attempting to argue for recruiters in general, because generally speaking, I think the author is correct. And of course I, being me, believe I am the exception to the rule.

The issue I take here is the railing on and on against "$20,000" as this is A. The correct figure to use, and B. That this is somehow unreasonable.

$20000 is about the amount that one would pay for real estate agents on a $350,000 home purchase. This is, of course, much less than the average home value for a physician.

I wonder- has the author ever purchased a home? And if so- why is he not railing against real estate agents who are every bit as unscrupulous and full of it as the average recruiter?

Recruiters charge what we charge because there are costs of doing business and we need to actually make a living doing what we are doing.

Perhaps the author has not considered the sheer amount of time a recruiter works while getting paid- absolutely nothing- because clients and candidates are just as dishonest, flaky, and all-around difficult as anybody else.

The questionable characteristics the author describes here are not unique to recruiters- but seem to plague humanity in general.

If clients and candidates- as a whole- acted with a modicum of transparency and respect for a recruiter's time, we wouldn't have to charge as much as we do because we wouldn't have to work so much for nothing.

The author also being a physician makes this whole rant particularly ironic, considering the vast amount of sums of money that physicians get paid to generally spend 5-7 minutes with a patient, make a rash misdiagnosis, order $20,000 worth of testing that concludes nothing, and then prescribing medications that do little but cover up symptoms and cause side effects worse than the presenting complaint.

In fact- this is why physician recruiters like me have jobs... because the vast majority of physicians aren't worth the paper their degrees are printed on. And graduation from a "prestigious" medical program along with a few pages of activities and professional memberships that the average physician's CV contains doesn't usually amount to a hill of beans.

Anybody looking for a quality physician- with excellent diagnostic skills and appropriate bedside manner- will actually benefit greatly by hiring the *right* recruiter to find a physician for them.

$20000 for the right candidate is actually a cheap price, considering that many of these doctors are getting paid that much *a month* and once a bad doctor is hired, they are exceedingly difficult to get rid of, and it is almost impossible to fire a physician without losing a large number of their patients in the process.

For these reasons- and more- I charge more like $35,000-$40,000 for a physician placement.

So to the author- if you would like to keep your ridiculous rant up on the Internet for all eyes to see, please update that $20,000 figure to something that more accurately represents reality.

Elizabeth S said...

Hi there,

I just stumbled across your blog and honestly, it is a little disheartening. I am a physician recruiter and while I agree with a few points that you made, the vast majority of these points are over-generalizations. I am sorry that you have had such negative experiences with recruiters but I wish you would not completely disregard the few of us out there that actually mean well.

I am honest when it comes to my clients and my candidates. Yes, you are correct, I get paid only if my client hires a physician that i presented and i am more than happy to tell the candidate this. I would never force or push a candidate into accepting a job just so i could get paid - there are numerous issues with that. For starters, this candidate would not be happy and would subsequently be looking for a job again within a year. This is not only an inconvenience for both the client and the candidate but it means that neither would be satisfied with my services. One payment of $20k is not worth loosing a client who will have many openings and needs in the years to come, as well as loosing any possible referrals that the hired candidate may have had.

I also help candidates find jobs in exceptional locations. I have many clients in Houston,TX/Austin,TX/Dallas,TX/Miami,FL/San Diego,CA, etc. If i do not have a client in a larger city with a candidate's specialty, I am happy to do some marketing for the candidate (with their knowledge and without releasing their CV)in their desired location. Actually, last month, i helped a physician get a job in Houston, TX. I did not have a job in my system that fit what this candidate desired so I did some searching and found a new client for this candidate to speak with. It was a great fit and he is in the process of moving to Houston as we speak - he and his wife are elated. (Yes, i even spoke with his wife to see what her needs were and no, she wasn't a physician and did not need a job.

In regards to candidates that may have some issues (not BC, licensing issues, malpractice settlements, etc) I tell them that i am happy to email a few of my clients to see if they would be able to help (which i do) but I give them the honest truth and say that they would be better off calling these places on their own because most clients wont use a recruiter if the candidate has issues. Every physician that i have told this too has thanked me immensely and said that they appreciate my honesty. (Once, i even gave a candidate the name of the facility and its web address so he could reach out to them on his own. I knew that they wouldnt accept him from me but that they might accept him if he represent himself.)

I hope you will reconsider some of your harsh statements because not ALL (maybe most, but not ALL) contingency recruiters are the devil - although, i have had clients tell me horror stories so i see where you are coming from.

At the end of the day, I love my job because i truly believe that i do help people. I try my best to find doctors careers and not jobs and i try to find my clients someone who will stay with them for the long term. (I have refused to send at least one candidate to a client because the candidate said he would only be there for 3 years and would leave. I told him this wouldnt be a good fit. Why? Because, this client said they needed someone who would be part of the community and grow with the practice and this candidate wouldnt be beneficial for my client in the long run.)

I know that i am long-winded but i hope that this has helped you to see that we arent ALL bad people :) Thank you for letting me share my side. I wish you and your practice all the luck in the world. Have a great week!

Anonymous said...

I read most of the comments on here. I think that there are many good points made by the author and the recruiters that replied. My biggest issue is that you the recruiters are annoying, if a physician is searching for a job they will find it because most physicians have contacts in the field. If they want to use a recruiter they will find you so buzz off stop with the phone calls and the emails every single day from the same people. If a physician never responded to any of your emails for the past 2 years what makes you think they will respond now. you are cluttering our email boxes, voicemails and calling people who are doing fellowships for primary care positions is annoying. WE DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR IT STOP.

Anonymous said...

After reading your article it is very discouraging that you speak in generalizations which is not professional at all. It could be argued with valid opinions that some doctors also are "just sales people" and only care about money. How do I know? Because every day when I talk to doctors, that is all that a majority care of them care about. Also, more people in America file for bankruptcy because of inflated medical bills; however, not all doctors are bad. In fact, I have worked with many of them who are great people and don't just care about money. My point is that I feel like this article is a generalization and not at all a fair representation of recruiters.

I am sorry that you may have had a bad experience with a recruiter; I just want you to know that not all people are the same.

Dee Ops said...

It would be beneficial if the aouthor could offer a more recent blog on the state of physician recruiters as this was dated 2007.

Alexandra said...


This was very insightful! Do you by any chance have any links or reports that show the statistic of 15-20% of jobs are filled by recruiters?

I would appreciate any thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! From a Residency Program Coordinator perspective, physician recruiters are medicine's equivalent of payday loan sharks. They will use any tactic to get their foot in the door to be able to distribute and talk to resident physicians, and are not above turning nasty to get what they need (see examples above). They are absolutely not in the best interest of physicians, and any who think they are are either true to their trade, or naive about the company they work for.

I once had a third-party recruitment firm contact me for a verification of training for a former resident supposedly considering a positing with the Department of Defense. This recruitment firm, which was not a government agency, refused to pay the fee we charge to process verifications because they claimed they were working for the federal government. The recruiter told me it was against the law to charge the government a fee. He quoted the FERPA act and the Solomon Amendment stating that we were required to give certain formation on former residents to military recruiters.

I knew better, and when I continued to insist that he pay the fee, he turned nasty and told me that "he wasn't threatening me," but that he would not be responsible for what happened to me if I didn't cooperate. He then produced, what was evident to me, a manufactured document that had had the DOD/DOE seals slapped on it. This documented quoted the FERPA act and the Solomon Amendment and was tantamount to a written threat.

I forwarded everything to my DIO in the GME office who suggested I give him what he was asking for because he effectively was threatening me. My DIO said it wasn't worth the fight. But I knew the FERPA act did not apply to residents, and that the Solomon Act referred only to military recruiters - which this firm was not. My DIO suggested if I wanted to pursue it that I should involve legal. So, I did. But first, I called the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Defense. They answered on the first ring. I told them my situation, and they transferred me directly to who I needed to talk to. I was told that this information was completely false and "off-base" and they suggested I have the recruiter give them a call.

I then went to the Department of Education site and pulled up every bit of information I could find on the FERPA act and the Solomon Amendment, including an official letter from the Director of Family Policy Compliance to a Residency Coordinator in Maryland stating that the FERPA Act did not apply to residents, only to "students" by definition. And that even under this act, institutions are only required to provide basic information.

I forwarded all of this to my Institution's legal department, which concurred that I was correct. But despite the questionable morals and business practices of the recruitment firm, they also said it was not worth the fight - that I should just provide the information.

So, I did, but not without first putting the recruiter in his place by giving him every scrap of information I had collected and telling him he was completely wrong, and not without first telling him what I thought of his business practices. I gave him the name and the number of the person who I talked to at the Office of the Secretary of Defense. I then wrote to my former resident and told him exactly what had happened. My former resident responded saying he had not authorized the recruiter firm to request any more information in the first place and that he was going to take it up with them. Needless to say, the recruiter wrote back to me sputtering that I had misunderstood him...

In short, physician recruiters are NOT in the best interest of the field.