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Due to the Department of Health’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy and the many changes that come with it, it has become harder for many practices to find GPs. Despite of the changes, there are many things practices can do to attract GPs in 2019.

Our MD, Martina Stanley, recently held a well-received presentation at Scale My Clinic. She was not only talking about the GP landscape and recent changes, but she also outlined how practices can better attract and retain good GPs in this environment.
Here is a summary of Martina’s top 9 things practices can do to attract GPs in 2019:

1. Maintain a positive culture including fortnightly clinical meetings with real case discussions

Many GP jobs are filled via referrals and medical recruitment agencies. Maintaining a positive work environment & culture ensures that your existing GPs are happy with their workplace. Your current staff are often the best and most important ambassadors for your clinic. If they are satisfied with the workplace, they are much more likely to refer their doctor colleagues to a job at your practice. Similarly, medical recruitment agencies are more likely to prioritise your position that needs to be filled if they know that the practice looks after their staff well.

Internal meetings are not only important to reflect on the work that’s being done, but also to create a positive environment and a sense of community.

2. Being better but not too different

The GP job market has become more competitive in 2019. Many practices struggle to find GPs and the recent changes preventing OTDs from working in metro areas doesn’t help the situation either. In fact, it makes it worse. In such a competitive environment, it’s vital to stand out from the crowd. Fully qualified GPs have a lot of choice in this market and they pick the best offer at hand.

So, here are a few ideas for things you can offer to stand out:

  • Higher share of billings (offer 70% instead of 60-65%)
  • Offer relocation & housing support
  • Offer a minimum guaranteed income for a set period (the higher the better)
  • Flexible working hours
  • Offer administrative support to make the GPs life easier
  • Offer teaching opportunities (appeals to many GPs who would like to teach in their clinical setting)
  • Offer salary packaging
  • Maintain your premises well

3. Offer Mixed billing

There are many pros and cons for both bulk and mixed-billing practices, yet GPs are more inclined to work for a mixed billing practice for the following reasons:

  • Bulk billing practices often attract patients from lower socio-economic backgrounds
  • Mixed billing practices are often perceived as offering better paying jobs, i.e. higher fee per consultation (While it’s not always true of course, perception matters a lot in the hiring process)
  • Financial freedom to spend more time with patients
  • GPs can see less patients per hour
  • Increased ability to get to know patients on a personal level
  • Read more on bulk vs mixed billing here

4. Good practice manager and personal involvement of the practice owner or competent senior manager

Like in any job and industry, having a supportive company owner or manager plays a big part when it comes to job satisfaction. Whilst every employee has their own preference for a certain management style, they need to feel like their superior always has their back. Becoming best friends with the people you manage is generally not a good idea, however you need to be able to connect on a personal level while maintaining a certain degree of authority to be respected. Being approachable, fair, understanding and supportive are some of the key features GPs are looking for in a practice manager. The practice manager also needs to be competent in how they run the practice. Managing your GPs well comes back to job satisfaction which in turn has an impact on job referrals and your practice’s reputation.

5. Good facilities including consulting rooms with daylight

Is your practice investing enough to maintain state-of-the-art facilities and equipment? The location of your practice is very important to attracting GPs however moving to a better area is often an unrealistic. However, what you can do is to set your practice apart from others by upgrading your equipment to latest standards and ensuring to provide a modern, light, clean workplace.

6. Track record of retention

Your GP retention rate is a very good, if not the most important indicator whether doctors at your facility enjoy their job. GP retention goes beyond the administrative efforts and costs of hiring new doctors, but it forms part of your overall reputation. A clinic with constantly changing staff members risks its reputation which not only has an impact on patients, but also on hiring new GPs.

7. Work with a highly reputable recruitment agency

It’s advisable to work with an agency that specialises in medical recruitment or even better an agency such as Alecto which entirely focuses on GP recruitment. There are many good reasons why you should engage a recruitment firm to help you find doctors. Especially when it comes to hiring GPs from overseas, a lot of practices are not always aware of the latest rules and regulations. In 2019, we have seen a number of drastic changes in the GP landscape, such as the introduction of Distribution Priority Areas, new pathways for Non-VR GPs and more. If you pick the right recruitment agency, they will not only find you a qualified GP that fits in well with your practice and team, but they also help you navigate and comply with all the rules and regulations.

8. Maintain a superior online presence

A poorly designed website, the lack of the right information and failing to address the users’ website experience are factors that contribute to a bad first impression. In our experience, this very first impression matters a lot to GPs who look for a job. Afterall, the website is an extension of your practice. This means if your website is presented poorly, GPs automatically make assumptions about your practice, for example that it doesn’t have many patients or that it’s not managed very well. As a matter of fact, we often get feedback from GP candidates expressing their concerns after exploring poor practice websites.

9. Invest in marketing to keep your practice busy

If your practice runs at capacity and is struggling to keep up with patient demand, this point can probably be ignored to some degree. However, if your practice gets quiet at times, it’s recommendable to invest more in marketing, especially online marketing. GPs are much more likely to work for you if they are reassured of enough patient demand. Afterall, the number of patients they see largely determines their salary. Online marketing is excellent for practices that want to fill more appointment slots. There are many different aspects when it comes to online marketing, but the most important factor is and always will be a well-designed and user-friendly website. You can also run paid marketing campaigns on Google AdWords, invest in SEO and maintain a regular blog. Yet all these campaigns will only work well in combination with a website that is maintained well.

If your practice needs help attracting GPs, please call us on 1800 604 332 or send an email to [email protected].