Clinician Relocation: The Biggest Healthcare Recruitment Trend of 2020

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In 2020, almost 16 million people relocated.1 The majority of movers were Americans who had the luxury of “working from anywhere” thanks to stay-at-home orders, but as you know, clinicians weren’t as lucky. These professionals relocated to meet the demand of patients with COVID-19 in cities that were hit the hardest. This clinician migration has led to an imbalance in the dispersion of clinicians throughout the United States, and it has impacted recruiters as they attempt to form healthcare recruitment strategies and source new candidates.

Let’s take a look at some specific stats about the current state of clinician migration in the United States:

  • Over the past decade, the United States has seen more younger, eager physicians moving to cities that offer higher salaries and significant overtime benefits such as Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, Houston, and Chicago.2
  • This clinician migration to larger cities has left states with more rural locations such as Mississippi, New Mexico, and Louisiana running out of hospital staff entirely and desperate to fill positions.3
  • The Western-most area of the United States is forecasted to have the greatest physician shortage ratio by 2030 (69 physician jobs per 100,000 people) whereas the Northeast will have a surplus of 50 physician jobs per 100,000 people.3
  • A higher number of nurses are looking to work in rural health centers in states like Florida and North Carolina.4

Handling Hard-To-Fill Positions Requires a Unique Approach

Couple clinician migration with an increasing number of hard-to-fill positions in rural areas of the country, and recruiters are left wondering where to start in creating a healthcare recruitment strategy appropriate for these COVID-19-influenced trends.

Here’s What You Know How To Do

You Know How To Use Job Boards

Posting positions on job boards source active candidates, and this is great if your talent pool is actively looking for a new role in a new city. However, not even half of physicians are actively utilizing online job boards to find new roles5, and a study conducted by found that 49% of nurses are willing to switch jobs, but are not actively looking.6 Job boards are also costly; for hospitals who are looking to fill multiple roles, using job boards as your primary source of recruitment can cost sites can cost upwards of $16,000 per year on a single placement.7

This strategy doesn’t always work because it eliminates half of potential passive candidates and is costly.

You Know How To Use Staffing Agencies

Local staffing agencies are a great resource to find talent close by, but they may not have the tools or techniques to identify clinicians from other cities, so they probably won’t address your relocation strategy plans. They may also charge an exorbitant fee (25% to 100% of the hired employee’s wages).8

This strategy doesn’t always work because you’re only sourcing local, not national talent, and it’s costly.

You Know How To Use Traveling Nurses

Travel nursing help fill gaps in areas where there are nursing shortages, but only for specific periods of time.8 Issues with travel nurses are not unlike those of staffing agencies; travel nurses charge up to $10,000 more per salary than staff nurses, travel nursing agencies aim for profit margins of 20-25% on their travel nursing contracts, and temporary nurses may not adapt as well to workplace culture as staff nurses would.9,10

This strategy doesn’t always work because travel nurses are costly, they may not bond with the hospital team at-large, and you’re left with a vacant position once their contract ends.

Here’s What You Should Do

You should supplement traditional healthcare recruitment strategies by actively displaying their employer-branded materials directly to passive candidates across marketing channels at a frequent pace. Does this sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be.

A robust database that encompasses 99% of clinician talent in the United States allows recruiters to directly target any clinician from any location in the country. And the kicker is that these clinicians can be reached even if they are not actively looking for a new job.

When this database is combined with recruitment marketing techniques, the potential candidate can be reached on an individual level through digital advertisements, social media postings, and landing pages that incorporate employer-branded material. It’s important for recruiters to send messaging across these channels frequently as employer-branded materials sent to a consumer on more than one occasion seems to stimulate recall more effectively than messaging sent only once.11

By analyzing the behavior of the candidate and his/her interaction with digital ads, social media posts, and the landing page, you can either increase your messaging to them or scale back if they’ve interacted with your marketing materials.

Learn more about Katon Direct’s advanced approach to healthcare recruitment

Future Clinician Demand Plus New Migration Equals Action Now

As the pandemic slows, recruiters can expect to see the return of the specialty clinician, as opposed to the urgent care clinician, which will influence healthcare recruitment strategies and relocation again. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the demand for psychiatrists, urologists, surgeons, and neurologists will grow significantly by 2025.12 And for nurses, there will be demands for specialties outside urgent-care roles such as neonatal nurses, nurse midwives, clinical advanced-practice registered nurses, and school nurses.13

The bottom line? Recruiters can’t afford to waste time in sourcing candidates.
We don’t know how fast hiring needs will change, but we do know that they are definitely going to change. Between the COVID-19-related healthcare recruitment trends of 2020 and a constantly shifting change in clinician need, recruiters have to be ready to expect the unexpected. Incorporating a multi-pronged relocation strategy now that uses the right digital channels to attract clinicians and is backed by a robust database will prevent scrambling for staff in the future.

Implement a Relocation Sourcing Strategy Today

  1. Bowman CP. Coronavirus moving study: people left big cities, temporary moves spiked in first 6 months of covid-19 pandemic. MyMove website. Published February 17, 2021. Accessed February 23, 2021. /covid-19/coronavirus-moving-trends/.                                                        

  2. Kingma M. Nurses on the move: a global overview. Health Serv Res. 2007;42(3 Pt 2):1281-1298.

  3. Zhang X, Lin D, Pforsich H, Lin VW. Physician workforce in the United States of America: forecasting nationwide shortages. Hum Resour Health. 2020;18(1):8. 

  4. Cohn D. About a fifth of U.S. adults moved due to COVID-19 or know someone who did. Pew Research Center. Published July 6, 2020. Accessed February 19, 2021.  

  5. How Physicians Search for Jobs. NEJM Career Center. Published 2011. Accessed March 1, 2021. 

  6. Pierman S. Tips to target valuable passive nurse job seekers. Published January 24, 2018. Accessed March 1, 2020. 

  7. Zivkovic M. The True Cost of Hiring an Employee in 2021. Togglhire website. Published May 22, 2018. Accessed February 23, 2021.  

  8. Fallon N. Thinking about using a staffing agency? Here’s what you need to know. Business News Daily. Updated October 20, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2021. 

  9. Walker A. What does a travel nurse do? Published April 16, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2021. 

  10. Bruise C. Why travel nurses make more money. Published June 17, 2019. Accessed March 1, 2021. 

  11. Zimmer M. The art and science of frequency in marketing. Zimmer Marketing website. Published March 7, 2017. Accessed March 1, 2021. 

  12. Darves B. Physician shortage spikes demand in several specialties. New England Journal of Medicine CareerCenter. Published November 30, 2017.  Accessed February 19,  2021.   

  13. Monti J. 20 best nursing career specialties. Nurse Journal. Published February 8, 2021. Accessed March 1, 2021.

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