The very first days and weeks on the job can make a tremendous difference when it comes to long-term satisfaction and success for newly hired healthcare providers. That’s why making the initial welcome a positive and seamless experience can support physician and provider retention and success. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to help your new providers get off on the right foot.
1. Start before day one
Make sure the warm reception starts well before the provider’s first day on the job. Welcome letters can both convey excitement that the provider is joining the organization and critical onboarding information.
“The first thing we do when we get the contract back is send out a welcome letter. It gives them links on where to go to get a license, where to go to get a medical staff application, and who to talk to in our billing department so they can get credentialed with all the insurance companies,” says Mark Douyard, senior physician recruiter for Bayhealth Medical Center.
Ensure facility leadership and soon-to-be colleagues are part of the welcome. At UPMC Hamot, staff receive an email with details about the newly hired physician. “We give them the new hire’s email address and say, ‘Please reach out to them on your own to express your excitement for them joining the team,’” says physician recruiter Elizabeth D’Aurora Madurski.
Whether it’s a welcome note from leadership or information about the local community, it’s all about the personal touch, says Kristine Olson, vice president of physician & professional services at Essentia Health. “The recruiter is still reaching out to them, someone in the department is reaching out to them until the day they start.”
2. Facilitate introductions
New providers will need to interact with a panoply of new colleagues, including the chief of staff, the service line director, the department head and other department colleagues, credentialing and licensing staff, and many more. It can be a lot of new names and faces.
Many of those introductions can take place well before a provider’s first day. “It starts when that provider actually hits the facility for his or her onsite interview. The level of engagement that they get from that interview continues into onboarding,” explains Russ Peal, director of workforce recruitment & retention service for Veterans Health Administration.
Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital has a similar process. “When they're here on their site visit, I introduce them to our credentialing team, so they know who they're going to be meeting with and how that process is done,” says Heather Spinney, talent acquisition and physician recruiter. So when they begin the licensing and credentialing processes, “they've already had that face to face, so they know who they're going to be working with.”
3. Ensure a smooth first day
A successful first day helps set the stage for long-term physician and provider retention. At Essentia, a new provider is welcomed as graciously on their first day as a guest would be welcomed into someone’s home, Olson says. The first day on the job is carefully orchestrated with an itinerary that’s shared with all relevant parties.
“Nine times out of 10 they're going to know everyone who greets them at the door. We hand walk them from place to place or we have a manager coming to meet them,” she says. “We've had some ask, ‘Can you come and pick me up at the hotel? I don't know how to drive in the city.’ Sure. We're going to do whatever we need to do to get you where you need to go.”
4. Provide help navigating the basics
For a provider, a new job can mean a raft of new policies and protocols to learn — but hefty manuals are ineffective at communicating crucial policies.
“For those key policies — like the opioid prescription policy, for example — all of those high-level provider-specific policies that are crucial, we would review them in a meeting with the chief medical officer or the chief of staff,” explains Liz Mahan, physician recruitment advisor for AAPPR. “At least then you know they're getting the information and they're getting it from somebody that is in a position of authority.”
UPMC Hamot introduces key policies during their new provider orientation. “Our pharmacy team, infection control, risk management, and our patient experience members come in, and speak about each topic to new providers,” D’Aurora Madurski says. “It helps providers really understand the policies and ask questions.”
5. Be deliberate about establishing mentorships
A mentorship program can help new providers adapt to your organization and its culture. At Veterans Health Administration, providers are explicitly assigned mentors. “We assign a person who knows a lot about the community. If it’s an academic appointment, we assign a mentor who knows quite a bit about the academic network that this provider will be engaged in,” Peal says. “It is his or her responsibility as a colleague to make sure that new provider is set up for success.”
6. Check in frequently to ensure ongoing success
“Rounding check-ins” for new providers are established right out of the gate at Essentia, says Olson. These rounding touchpoints come with a survey for the provider about any issues or challenges, unmet expectations, resources that are needed, and areas the organization needs to work on.
Veterans Health has an employee retention initiative that engages employees at every level about “how our department and workforce look through their lenses,” Peal says. That information is used to shape the organization “in such a way that those work environments are diverse, inclusive, and welcoming, and value each member of our team.”
Everyone wants to feel welcome at a new job, and with a little planning and preparation, you can increase physician and provider retention in your organization. By setting them up for success before they even arrive, you’ll increase your clinician satisfaction and loyalty for years to come.