Redefining Recruitment to Retention

AAPPR Board Corner: The Power of The Ally

By: Russ Peal, CPRP
Director, Workforce Recruitment & Retention at the Veterans Health Administration
AAPPR Board Member


Chief of Neurology: “Well, with all due respect, I’m not confident that you will fill this search for me”

Physician Recruiter: “If in six months I’m unable to find well-qualified candidates for you to consider, I promise not to bother you again”

And that’s how my first meeting as the new Physician Recruiter ended with Dr. Karoubi, my first client.  His neurology position had gone unfilled for two years and he’d never worked with a specialized recruitment professional before.  Within 90 days, I presented three excellent candidates to him: he hired one, created a new position for another, and eliminated a multi-million dollar contract with a specialty group. With that, Dr. Karoubi became my first Ally!

Transforming my health care system by introducing and establishing a physician recruitment operation has been quite the journey.  Having this Ally became a game changer since physician recruiters were non-existent – and not welcomed – in the beginning.  While I made the ‘rounds’ championing the value of the physician recruiter, Dr. Karoubi shared his experience – and results – with fellow department heads and executive leaders.  Pretty soon, I had a growing network of allies that championed me and the physician/provider recruiter role.  This allowed me to focus exclusively on sourcing for top talent and providing a concierge-like experience to my clients while my Allies cleared pathways and silenced the naysayers.

Now, 14 years since that first meeting, our operation has grown from the original team of six to more than 100 projected physician/provider recruiter hires by the end of 2023.  What I learned from Dr. Karoubi, and others that followed, is I did not bear this change management burden alone!  I credit this network of Allies with making the physician/provider recruiter role a permanent component of our health care system.  There are two simple ways I keep those Allies working for me:

Engagement – Whether I’m working on a search or just ‘checking in’, I keep in touch with my allies.  An email to remind them I’m one text or IM away to deliver solutions for them, a visit to their department just to say ‘hi’ or simply connect.  This strengthens our partnership and further solidifies me as the provider recruitment subject matter expert.

Enlightenment – No, not in a TedTalk kind of way.  I send the latest on what’s trending in the provider market and our industry for Ally-awareness – AAPPR Benchmark Studies and White Papers, Becker’s Hospital Review, Modern Healthcare, etc. This keeps us connected even when I’m not working a search for them.

Over the years, I’ve learned to lean on my allies as key strategic partners that champion our profession, at the most critical stages of this transformational journey.  I challenge you to do the same by keeping your alliances alive!