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Hospital Begins Physician Search

February 25, 2014

South Central Kansas Medical Center is joining a growing trend of hospitals directly employing the physicians who practice at their facilities. According to the American Medical Association roughly 42% of physicians are now employed in some manner versus owning their own practices. This is a figure that has almost doubled over the past decade.

(Cowley County, Kansas): South Central Kansas Medical Center is joining a growing trend of hospitals directly employing the physicians who practice at their facilities. According to the American Medical Association roughly 42% of physicians are now employed in some manner versus owning their own practices. This is a figure that has almost doubled over the past decade.

In a report published by the Kansas Hospital Association, Cindy Fineran addressed the reasons for this upswing.

"Spurred by passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, today's health care environment is changing rapidly. Health reform challenges, the prospect of lower reimbursement, and the effects of a recessionary economy are driving increased consolidation among hospitals, physicians and other providers seeking to find economies of scale, streamline processes and improve their market strength," Fineran said.

While the medical center has employed physician specialists in the past, including general surgeons and most recently an OB/GYN, this will be their first attempt at employing family practice physicians.

"We need more doctors with specialties like family practice, internal medicine, or pediatrics; that's probably our single biggest need in terms of growth," said Steve Perkins, SCKMC CEO.

Recruiting health care professionals to rural communities has always been a challenge for small clinics and hospitals. Financial limitations, larger patient loads, and frequent on-call coverage requirements are generally considered hurdles that push the majority of physicians towards larger markets.

In late December SCKMC unveiled a new local networking program to solicit information on health care professionals, particularly physicians, who have local ties to the community. According to the hospital's website, the program will pay a "recruitment bonus" as high as $5,000 to anyone able to provide a lead that ends up in the permanent placement of a physician, specialist, mid-level practitioner, therapist, or registered nurse that relocates to the area in order to provide full-time healthcare services.

In addition, the hospital has recently signed a one-year agreement with the Kansas Recruitment Center to assist in promoting physician employment opportunities to upcoming graduates of the KU Med Center. Data suggests that new graduates are becoming increasingly interested in working directly for hospitals.

Merritt Hawkins is a national healthcare staffing firm specializing in physician recruitment. In a 2011 survey of final year medical residents, Merritt Hawkins staff reported 32% of the residents polled indicated they would prefer to be employed by a hospital than any other option. The preference to work for a hospital is up significantly from the 2001 figure of 3%.

"As we work with candidate physicians we will be able to offer them a choice of practice- a physician group practice by being with one of the community clinics or employed by the hospital. This choice broadens our opportunities," Perkins said.

For more information on the Family and Friends Networking Program visit www.sckmc.org.